“You’re so hyper-sensitive…” This is something I have heard my entire life. I’ve heard my family say it, I heard my “friends” say it, and I heard a therapist say it… I mean… confirm it. Its interesting though, when you hear those words being thrown at you, its like rocks piling atop of you. You want, with all your might, to get out of this heavy pile, unscathed, but those words lay heavier, crushing you. You then think, way to kick me when I’m already down.
I recently saw Glennon Doyle at her book release event, for #Untamed, sitting amongst a venue capacity well over 2,000 people, and it looked FULL. Hearing her speak bravely, truthfully, and confidently was transformative. She didn’t waste a word with any sound she made, and I tried diligently to write down as much as I wanted to remember.
“You are not broken because you’re responding appropriately to a broken world,” she said. Wow, did this sentence stop time and slap me hard across my face. I sat there letting the story’s context that brought her to that conclusion linger in my head. It was about her daughter learning about the endangerment of polar bears, and the melting ice cap – from Global Warming – dooming their existence. I related to her description of her daughter’s paralysis when hearing this information. I remembered my own paralysis in so many instances, where the depth of words or images or stories cut me deep. I remembered all the moments I needed to power signals to my brain to move on to my next obligation as a person in this society, especially as our responsibilities grow bigger as we grow older.
I had an epiphany about a month ago, after listening to an interview with Lady Gaga, and hearing her courageously speak about her battles with mental health, her past, her pain, and persevering quest to promote kindness as a source of stability within our world. Then I thought about my beautiful friend Deena, who not only valiantly turns her emotions and experiences into art with intentional lyrics, but also lives her songs as she voices empathy toward me, even when I fire burning thoughts in her direction.
Why is it that the people we declare “fame” are also the ones that remind us of our humanity.
Of our vulnerability? Of our struggles? And yet, we get frustrated and awkward when someone isn’t acting accordingly to the demands of society, when their name isn’t Lady Gaga… or Maya Angelou?
“The opposite of sensitive is NOT BRAVE. Its not brave to refuse to pay attention, to refuse to notice, to refuse to know, and feel, and imagine. The opposite of sensitive is insensitive, and that’s no badge of honor.” – Glennon Doyle.
These past couple of weeks have tested my heart and mind. Nashville had a devastating tornado. And while I was fine and those around me were safe, I got ready for work while answering texts and calls of check-ins throughout the morning. My routine drove me to work, a bit late, but nonetheless, I was standing at my desk by 10am. All of sudden, a wave of anxiety hit. There was an invisible object pushing down on my chest, as I read 25 deaths across my phone screen. My project list was open, but it could have been written in a foreign language – I was not able to read what was in front of me. All I could think about were those 25 people. How their loved ones now had to cope with the fact that they were gone from us. Just.Like.That. I started to tear up, paralyzed at my desk, unable to apparently function like those around me practicing business as usual. I closed my laptop and left.
I made the stop I needed to make to someone’s door.
Then I donated what I could and worked from home. I got back to my job responsibilities that I do care for – and the job that allows me to leave for personal matters and donations.
A week later, I was sitting in a meeting and tears started rolling down my face. Luckily, I was tucked at the end of the table. I couldn’t hear what was going on, and it wasn’t because the noise had trouble carrying. My heart’s sadness was yelling over this boardroom of people. My thoughts became loud and untrustworthy. I got up and slipped out the back door, of the room and of the building…
I made the stop I needed to make to someone’s door.
This time is was a couple I love. I showed up to Meagan and Brian’s, unannounced in the middle of a work-day because I knew I needed to feel safe again. And when they opened the door, I did. A part of my breaking heart felt like it was ok to have some pieces missing for the moment.
Meagan and I went to a coffee shop, with our laptops, to finish our responsibilities for the day.
I felt less alone, and I felt seen – and I knew I had things to do.
As Doyle said in the same chapter: “Wait, stop. That thing you said about the Polar Bears… it made me feel something and wonder something. Can we stay there for a moment? I have feelings. I have questions. I’m not ready to run outside to recess yet.”
Sometimes I’m not ready. I am hyper-sensitive; sometimes I feel something and wonder some things. I need to stay there and let it process. I need to ask questions. We should all have permission to be human. To be afraid. We should all give grace and kindness to those that are having a harder time….
Because in a world today where there are tornados, pandemics, and more uncertainties to come – don’t you want to feel certain about the people you surround yourself with?
Don’t you want to respond appropriately to this broken world?
Don’t you want to answer someone’s call?
Open the door?
Don’t you want to donate bc you have more?
Buy the toilet paper… and share?
I think, we’re in this together.
This is OUR world.