Where it Began for Me. Can You Relate to Any of This?
June 12, 2015 marks the day that I began my transformation. It was the day that I FINALLY began to figure out just who I am.
In early June of 2015, I visit my primary care provider to get on an anti-depressant because I am severely depressed, crying all of the time and cannot bear the thought of living another day feeling like this. I feel as if my life is literally crumbling before me. Almost all of my closest relationships, except the one I have with my dad, are shattered.
I tell my nurse practitioner, “My dad is dying and I am feeling crazy AF.” I have my head in my hands, crying uncontrollably as I continue talking. I tell her that I think I have Borderline Personality Disorder. In fact, I am pretty sure of it because all of my relationships are so unstable….and it runs in my family. She starts laughing at me. It startles me but she snaps me out of my self-pity quickly.
You see, to start out, I’d recently dumped my two girlfriends who I considered to be my “best friends” for almost 20 years. It’s as though I finally woke up and went, “what the f?” Our principles are completely opposite. I am deeply sensitive and both of these gals are much more “surface” people. For years I wrote it off thinking that we were a good compliment to each other, being that we are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I was sure that somewhere in the middle was the perfect place we should all be. Initially, we had some things in common, but over the years, unfortunately, that became less and less. And honestly, when the really big things happened in my life; the times that left me knocked down to my knees, (like my mom's funeral and other really painful times), I needed these gals but they just were not there for me. There was a lot of history between us, (plenty of fun nights out together), but it became very evident that they were only best friends by title. Suddenly, I realized that going forward, I want and need only authentic relationships in my life. I don’t have time for shallow relationships anymore. They just left me feeling empty. My heart has always been about forming meaningful connections with others. I figured it was best for all of us to wish each other well, love each other from afar, stay Facebook friends and go about our lives.
And as I said, at this time in my life, my dad was in the last stages of his life AND had recently been thrown out of his assisted living facility with NO warning. Literally, I got the call one Wed night in April of 2015 that he has been transported out of there by the police and paramedics; that I can pick him up at the emergency room and that he cannot ever come back to the facility.
So, as this was going on, I was also struggling to deal with a male alcoholic neighbor who had been sexually harassing me for several years. He'd repeatedly tell me stuff like he wants to lick my “hulili.” I mean, what is a damn hulili? I guess I figured it out by the context of his statements. In fact, many other several sexually graphic things "that he would like to do to me" were mentioned over a period of several years. It was degrading and awful and I felt violated by it all. Weirdly enough, he would do most of this while we were both present at our neighborhood social gatherings; other times via text message (but sometimes even during neighborhood group text messages).
So, as you can imagine, it is fodder for everyone there to witness and laugh about.
AND they, (meaning my neighborhood friends), all think it is hilarious! The weird thing is that most of these people are women and they still feel that there is NOTHING wrong with his behavior. I am told “I am just too damn sensitive." “Mac is just being Mac.” "He does that when he's had too much to drink." "You know he just does it to get under your skin."
I continued to go to these neighborhood social functions, even though I had no support. Being invalidated by other people for years affected my self-esteem and kept me in relationships with people who didn't have my back.
Don't get me wrong... I wasn't a complete victim who sat there silently when he harassed me. I would tell him to shut up, or honestly, I would say, "shut the F up!" That would only make him laugh. It was awful, but I put up with it for many years until one day when I'd had MORE than enough of his shit.
I realize now that my low self-esteem was the core of the problem and without it, your success in relationships, work, in pretty much all of life, will suck. I wanted everyone to like and respect me in the neighborhood; even this disrespectful loser, because my neighbors were all friends with him, too. I didn't want to be left out of the neighborhood gatherings. I mean, these were my friends. Yet, not one of my friends in the group would validate my feelings. I was "over-reacting," according to each of them.
So, back to my story... I am at the doc's office, meeting with my nurse practitioner (NP). I am a physical, emotional and spiritual mess. I am stuck at this point. I just dumped my two "besties," my dad is dying and there are all sorts of problems centered around his care AND I hate living in my neighborhood. I don’t have the energy or the wherewithal to know what to do to get out of this place. All I know is I don't want to live another day like this, but I HAVE to be strong for my dad! His days on this planet are limited and given all that he has done for me, I want to be strong for him and do the best I can to make his last days here the best that I can.
Honestly, at this moment in my life, sitting in the nurse practitioner's office, I am a hot damn mess. Just picture me making a capital L with my hand and putting it up to my forehead while having a swollen face filled with snot and tears.
It wasn’t just those things that lead me to depression and feeling absolutely CRAZY. In fact, most of my relationships were similar. They were unhealthy and left me feeling invalidated.
Does any of this ring a bell? Most of my friends fell into one of these categories: People who had issues with respecting boundaries, such as this knuckle head neighbor, people with substance abuse problems (and many times these two went hand-in-hand), and people with narcissistic, egocentric, self-entitled personalities. Anytime there was a disagreement, I tended to take full responsibility for it. I really began to feel like there must DEFINITELY be something wrong with me because “I know they did this or that” but anytime I confronted any of them on their behavior, their responses were either flat-out denial, lies, deflection and they never took responsibility for their actions. I REALIZE now that I was being gas-lighted. It was crazy-making at its finest. These were my normal go-to "peeps."
The common "thread" in my life was I needed to give, give, give (because THAT is where I got my value from). And yet, "funnily" enough, I always felt awful about myself in return. My thinking was seriously flawed at this point.
On a quick side note, I took a course given by Dr. Christiane Northrup called "Dodging Energy Vampires" and learned that Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) are magnets to narcissistic types of people. This is because we are so giving and loving. Our nature is to lift people up (which feeds their egos). They latch onto us because we feed them with "Narcissistic Supply" and in return, we love them deeply. In the beginning of these relationships, they put us up on a pedestal, we feel esteemed by them; we feel needed & wanted. These relationships "give our lives meaning." In actuality, these types of relationships always end up tearing you down and lowering your self-esteem. The terms narcissists and "Energy Vampires" will be used interchangeably on this site.
It was amazing and VALIDATING to learn that I am not alone and that most HSPs find themselves in this dynamic at some point in their lives.
I also learned from Dr. David Hawkins, in his book, Transcending the Levels of Consciousness: The Stairway to Enlightenment, that 78% of the human population are not living their lives at the level of integrity. Most humans are still very ego-driven (p.30). The planet Earth still has a distance to go to raise our level of Consciousness. A scary fact here is that one (1) out of five (5) people are "personality disordered" (NBCNews.com, 2008).
After studying these works, my whole outlook on life changed. Perhaps I am projecting my own morals, values and principles onto others and that is not who they truly are. Perhaps not everyone on this planet has other peoples' best interests at heart when they form their decisions to take action. It was disheartening, but it was the moment that I stopped taking responsibility for every damn thing that went wrong in my relationships!
Here I am in my middle ages, feeling mostly invalidated by others. I am physically, spiritually, emotionally overwhelmed. I think I am damaged and therefore, unworthy. I spend most of my time as a hermit, that is unless I am going to spend time with my dad. The bottom line is that "people = pain" to me.
While I don’t wish to disparage anyone in my family, I will say that the relationships in my adult-life mirrored the ones in my years growing up.
I felt as if I gained my value and worthiness when I attached myself to people who needed me to help them; to boost them up, to make them feel better about themselves. I was a great fixer of people and situations and excellent when it came to lifting a person up. He or she would leave our meeting feeling 100 times better and I would feel polluted with the toxic crap they just dumped onto me. Yes, I was a codependent mess. And when you are a sensitive, you feel this stuff 10 x stronger than if you aren't. We feel every emotion so deeply. As an HSP, we tend to put ourselves last. This is the stuff that really messes up your health and well-being.
My self-esteem continued to plummet. But this was the best thing to happen to me because all of these crummy relationships were my teachers!
My turning point began to happen a week or so after I started taking my antidepressant. June 12, 2015 marks that special day of my new beginning. It happens when I am searching for some sort of soul soothing relief on YouTube. I am looking for meditation videos to calm me down and help with my depression. You know how YouTube recommends videos for you to watch on the right side of your screen? Well, there were videos about being sensitive there. I first watch the recommended video entitled, “Why Are you so Sensitive?” and then another video called “Highly Sensitive People and Chronic Fatigue." After watching these two videos, it is like I was whammed over the head with a frying pan... but it didn’t hurt! A light switched on in my soul...
Suddenly everything just started to make sense. I realized I have something special about myself to offer the world and I can be happy and fulfilled, too! All of these difficult people and situations are my teachers. All of this pain has a purpose. It is human nature that most of us we need to hit bottom before we are willing to make any substantial change. I decide right there and then that I don't care how long it takes. I am committing to myself that I will seek out information about HSPs. I will learn everything I can about how I got to this place. I will move past my blocks (and let's face it, my self-esteem is at the root of it all). I will do all of the work necessary to uncover new tools for success and I will figure out what all of my gifts are. I will not only heal. I will turn my life around! AND, once I do this I will help others make this transformation.
I am going to help other HSPs on their journey!
So, on June 12, 2015, I suddenly began to realize that I am intact and whole. I am not crazy. In fact, I learned that it is quite common for a highly sensitive individual to wake up one day and say "Enough is enough! I cannot and will not live a shallow life of meaningless relationships!" I KNOW now that I am unique and special. In fact, I am part of a special and elite group of only 15-20% of the world's population.
And hey, GUESS WHAT, the neighborhood dynamic is really unhealthy! I deserve better and I've had enough of all of the drama. I don't have to live like this. I began to distance myself from a number of people (besides my two "besties"), and I was OK with that. I didn't care anymore what other people said or thought. I was going to do what was best for me.
I begin OWNING the fact that I actually have gifts! I mean these are real God-given talents! I can sense, pick up on and process so much more information than most of the world can! And, I learned, thanks to Dr. Elaine Aron's work, that having a dysfunctional family/traumatic childhood actually helped to build my sensitivity skills.
As an adult, I picked unhealthy people to relate with because that was all I knew. That was "MY normal." I hadn't known any better, but damn if I do now!
My model of how relationships work came from what I experienced in my childhood. Luckily, that began to change at my moment of discovery on June 12, 2015.
After June 12, I distanced myself from the whole neighborhood social gatherings. Not one of my neighbor friends supported me with my situation with "Mr. Perv on the second floor" and there were many arguments and fights and upheavals that seemed to occur almost every time they all gathered anyway. It was a little like attending a Jerry Springer show while spending time with these folks. I finally realized that becoming an “outsider” of these regular social events is the best thing for my health and sanity. I have to admit it wasn't easy and times it felt icky. I would see them congregating and even snickering and saying things about me under their breath as I'd drive by the pool area and wave. Also, things they said would get back to me by the people in the group who were talking outside of both sides of their mouths.
While it hurts a bit to be an outsider and to be vilified for speaking up and putting my foot down, I know I made a healthy choice.
So, to come full circle, June 12, 2015 marks the first day of the rest of my life. I have been reading and researching the topic for three years. I've learned so many valuable tools and technologies that I've used to transform myself. My relationships have begun to change. Now that I am aware of old patterns, I am capable of making much healthier choices in the relationships I chose.
I still take responsibility for my short-comings but I am also able to differentiate what is "their mess" and what is mine. I truly love and accept myself for being 'perfectly imperfect.' I am much kinder to myself which makes me able to be more kind and forgiving of others. Life can be amazing, but everything starts with you. Once you fix your inner world, your outer world will blossom!
It is my goal to help others make it to the other side of their sensitivity and fully realize their life’s potential. I send love your way and welcome you to my site.