While I was driving home today, pieces of Eve Ensler's "Manifesta to Young Women and Girls" came into my mind. The first half of the poem resonates with me, but the second half is what came to mind: "...fight for tenderness/care as much as you do/cry as much as you want.../ why am I whispering when I have something to say?/ Why am I adding a question mark at the end/of all my sentences?/...Pretending it doesn't mean that much to me?" And of course, the ending:
You know the truth:
Sometimes it does hurt that much
Horses can feel love
Your mother wanted more than that
It’s easier to be mean than smart
But that isn’t who you are.
In my mind, I keep moving into what I want to say tonight, but I know I've said it already. What I want to say I've written a thousand times before. It just doesn't feel worth saying again.
But I'm going to say it anyway. Maybe if I write it now 1001 times, then I'll reach some sort of conclusion.
Here's the problem (that I've said before): I am deeply sensitive to everything around me. I have always been this way. I will always be this way. There was a time when I hated this about myself. I don't hate it anymore. I think I am learning to channel it better, and it is not as overwhelming. It is who I am -- not just part of who I am, or a piece of who I am...this "sensitive" thing is who I am in the very center of my core. It's more than just an emotional thing. I am 100% convinced that it is a neurological thing. Medications effect me more, what I eat effects me more, lights, noises, other people, environment...it all effects me more. I mean, good lord, even my skin breaks out or gets angry if the wrong thing blows the wrong direction. I don't really know, obviously, if it is different for me, seeing as I've only ever been me (that I remember, anyway). But I just think that it has to be different. If everyone was this way then more people would "get it," right?
This is triggered because I (again) had someone tell me "you just care too much." Too much. You care too much. I hate hearing this. "You're just too sensitive" and "you care too much" are two things I wish I could never hear again. It feels like somebody saying "Come on now, Auto, your hair is just too brown. Your eyes are just too green." It doesn't make sense. I don't choose how much I care. I don't wake up in the morning, put on my glasses, turn on the coffee maker, and start up my Care-O-Meter. If I had one, believe me, I would choose to turn it down a notch some days. But I can't. I just can't.
Maybe people think it is something I can just turn off, though. Maybe they think that, if I really wanted to, I could just shut that whole caring thing down. And maybe, if I figured out how, I could do it. I do know that there was a time when it felt like my heart was shut down. It felt like I could not let anything out -- like there was a wall, and a mote, and a big metal lock on my heart. It was awful. I felt like a robot, or a zombie, and not only could I not let anything out, I also couldn't let anything in. I would rather feel too much than try to live that way.
Am I the only one that hears "sensitive" as having a negative connotation? Sensitive is like...people who cry because they think somebody looked at them funny. Sensitive is someone who gets prickly or upset easily. Sensitive is someone who cries at toothpaste commercials. Sensitive is someone who can't handle "real life" issues.
With my job, I'm pretty sure I handle as much "real life" as a person can. I don't cry at toothpaste commercials. I don't get prickly or angry or upset easily. Maybe it's not, then, sensitivity as much as it is intensity. I've been told that, too: "you're too intense." "Just lighten up, you're too intense."
Or maybe the problem isn't so much with the word itself as it is with the descriptor: "too." Too much. Too intense. Too sensitive. Too caring. It's like I am just overflowing with excess that I can't see, but that people around me would rather I get rid of. They would rather I just rein it in a little. Make it fit. You can't just have women going around spewing sensitivity, right? Can't just have intensity falling out on the floor. Nobody wants to be picking up extra caring lying around after I've been there. Pack it in. Pick it up. Keep it neat.
There is a quote from Andrea Gibson that I love: "A doctor told me once I feel too much. I said 'so does God. It's why you can see the Grand Canyon from the moon.'" If there was such a thing as a Care Detector up in space, my body would light up like its own small planet.
To quote Lady Gaga: "Baby, I was born this way."
It's not easy. But it is who I am.