Her tears spill out of her eyes.
In my best mom voice, I say to my daughter, “It’s ok. Stop crying. IT will be ok. I promise.” My words don’t offer a salve, instead she gets more upset and responds with a one-liner that cuts the inside of my heart,”You hurt my feelings Momma.”
“Oh. I am sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” I place my hand on her back, realizing that she is sensitive and that her propensity is to really internalize everything I say to her. An elevated tone in my voice or not paying attention to the latest drawing can cause her to exhibit some serious angst. Some days it surprises me that some of her most benign interactions can cause such a sudden onset of tears. Under my breath, I hear myself saying, “She is way too sensitive. She needs to toughen up.”
That’s my Iamyourmother advice, but in reality, I am asking her to do something that I haven’t mastered yet. Yes, I will admit here, that although I am 3 decades older than my daughter, I am unable to sometimes control my own sensitivity. Even though I was taught in my former profession to keep my emotions invisible, quite often my eyes and my facial expressions show what is at the center of the heart. For years, I’ve repeated the following Don Miguel Ruiz’s mantra in the Four Agreements: “Don’t take anything too personally.” It hasn’t worked. The problem is I probably take too many things personally. I internalize what others may say or do and deem it a reflection of what might be a deficiency in myself. My own internal crack doesn’t have a filter. I embrace whatever emotion I am feeling and lean into it.
Is this approach too sensitive? Yes. But this inner sensitivity also allows me to carry myself with a torch of authenticity that comforts me. In a world where most are playing hide-and-seek with their own internal emotions, I prefer to sink into my own fractured self. I want to hurl toward a life that is filled with a heightened sense of happiness and sadness. My own internal pendulum runs through all my fractures and every single crack leads me to a more genuine truth.
There is an authenticity in my daughter’s waterfall. An exquisite authenticity indeed.
This resonates with me. I am very sensitive and so is my son Daniel. My husband says he needs to toughen up but I think it’s good that he is sensitive and things move him so deeply . We are who we are 🙂 nice post, Rudri.
I am like you and your daughter too. My mom is actually quite tough skinned, and always felt I was too sensitive. Until recently I always felt it a burden to be so sensitive – it makes everything hard, especially friendships. I’ve distanced myself from wonderful friends one too many times because of something they said or didn’t say. But like you, too, I’m now embracing my sensitivity as a part of who I am, and trying to recognize it as a kind of “gift.”
It is hard to see sensitivity in our children, because it means they will be that much more vulnerable to hurt.
Thanks for writing about this!
I was the same type of sensitive child as your daughter, and as an adult after many years I am starting to embrace it. It still upsets me when I can’t control my sensitivity in front of others or I take something to heart. I was just thinking about “taking things personally” last night…it can be a long tough road for us sensitive ones. However, as an adult I’ve learned I’d rather live life with the full intensity of emotion than to have never felt a thing.
This is such a beautiful post, Rudri. Your daughter is lucky to have you for her momma. I am a bit sensitive myself, and was often told so as a child. That invalidated the way I was feeling. So, yes, I try to wear a mask sometimes to hide my feelings. It is what I was taught. And you are 100% correct – that is inauthentic. It is much better to be true to yourself.
Being too sensitive sounds like a bad thing but it isn’t necessarily. It does result in feeling wounded more often than someone who isn’t as sensitive. But what would this world be like if everyone was tough? Not so great. There’s a place for each of us and what we bring to the table. We need tough people and we need emotional people.
I’m kind of in between, depending on the day.
Visiting from SITS.
This could be me and my oldest son. It’s even worse when it’s a boy b/c they’re “supposed” to be tougher. But aren’t we really just making them try and be something they’re not? I’m to the point where I’m tired of feeling bad for being sensitive. I am what I am, right?