As a child, I was called crybaby a lot, by my peers as well as the adults around me. Looking back it feels like it happened at least once a day, but who knows, it could have been more, could have been less. I was a sensitive child raised in a time and place where there was little willingness or capacity to understand my sensitivity. Instead that sensitivity, and I, myself, was seen as weak and bothersome. “Weak” and “Bothersome” were beliefs my childhood self easily internalized and labels I readily carried around for many years thereafter.
Although I still feel uncomfortable crying in front of all but a select few, I have for the most part made peace with this part of my life. I wish that things had been different, and that younger me had found more compassion, understanding and support from those around her. But I also see, looking back as an adult, people who were working incredibly hard to support themselves and their families: at times struggling to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. It was a world with no room for weakness and no time for comforting over what probably seemed to those around me nothing more than inconsequentialities. When I look back at my childhood, I see people who were doing their best, even though in my case that “best” left me with scars and baggage that has taken many years to heal.
Discovering my own unique strengths and finding my voice has been essential to healing my childhood wounds. Especially crucial to healing has been learning to honour my sensitivity. As a trait that is not very well understood or valued by our culture, learning to understand and value my sensitivity has also been an exercise in learning to understand and value myself. For example recognizing that my sensitivity has given me gifts, such as a natural talent for observation and a heightened intuitive perception of the events and people surrounding me. This heightened observation and intuitive perception has given me a unique perspective and understanding of the world, and of others. I’ve also come to honour how being sensitive affects me physically, recognizing how my senses can become overloaded in loud and crowded environments, and learning how to give myself the care I need physically in order to function before, during and after being in such environs.
The thing that I am most grateful for out of all of this is that my experience and insights can help others, most particularly my incredibly sensitive daughter, who is as sensitive as I am if not more. I don’t know the likelihood of the world becoming a welcoming place for those of us who are sensitive, either in my lifetime or my daughter’s. I do feel like it’s becoming a friendlier and more understanding place. Regardless, I also know that being a sensitive parent of a sensitive child will enable me to be her biggest cheerleader, advocate, and mentor in the skills of how to not just survive but thrive in the world as a sensitive human being.
Latest posts by Elizabeth Holt Handlovsky (see all)
- Getting Off the Emotional Rollercoaster: Time to Feel the Feels and Then Let It Go - July 28, 2015
- To My Former Friend - July 7, 2015
- Honouring the Gift of Sensitivity - June 30, 2015