I was so afraid of her when I was a kid. Back then, before VCR’s or DVD’s, they played that movie on TV, once a year around Thanksgiving. The Wicked Witch of the West terrified me. This was back when kids were still innocent about media, and had to be calmed down and comforted–“it’s okay, she’s not real.” Now I see that green face, the thing she does with her hands, wiggling her fingers and leaning in close, and the crazy voice she uses, and I’m more amused than anything.
There are other things that scared me as a kid that don’t bother me so much now: the dark, an open closet door in the dark, strange noises in the dark, being alone in the dark, guns, spiders, choking, the deep end of the pool, horses, African Killer Bees, and giving speeches or presentations. But I am still easily rattled or upset, and frequently feel threatened. It’s just who I am.
As a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I am:
- affected by other people’s moods
- uncomfortable around loud noise, strong smells or bright lights
- need frequent alone time to recover from overwhelm or over-stimulation
- rattled when too much is being asked of me
I am also an INFJ, (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging), unable to close myself off from other people’s suffering, their emotional experience. I am so wide open to outside stimulus, and so connected to my own awareness that I can get completely overwhelmed.
It’s sometimes even hard for me to watch TV or movies or read books, because if something bad is happening to someone, even though I am intellectually aware that “it’s not real” and it certainly isn’t happening to me, I can’t remove myself, can’t protect myself from it. My empathy, my intuition is so intense, it is as if it’s happening directly to me, happening right now, and I have to work really hard to convince myself that everything is okay, nothing bad is happening. I rarely ever watch the news for this reason. People sometimes misunderstand and think I just don’t care about politics or global warming or the economy or the war or what ever else is happening in the larger world. I can’t watch the part of nature shows where something is getting chased or killed, and I certainly can’t watch documentaries about things like September 11th or Hurricane Katrina.
The other thing that can happen because of this is if I am too close to the person suffering, too connected, or the suffering is BIG, I sometimes can’t help them, and end up hurt myself. This usually happens when I am too tired, too run down to both be in the moment and able to act. I’m at my worst when I’m sick or exhausted or hungry or overwhelmed. I’m vulnerable. I can cry, I can make myself sick, I can panic, but that’s probably not going to help.
I don’t know how to close off, disconnect, rise above. Numbing out can work, but I’m trying to stop doing that. The consequences are too dire, and I can’t keep doing it to myself. So, the alternative is to always be sure that I am rested, that I am taking care of myself so that I can be there, so I can help.
We’ve talked about this before, though. I’m not very good at it. I keep thinking I can keep going, if I just push through the tired or promise the sick that I’ll deal with it later, I can get this one more, really important thing done. Just one more thing, just one more day, just five more minutes…bleh.
- “Take my hand. We’ll hide in the corner.”