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Friday, August 16, 2013

My Own Worst Enemy

  I have always been a very sensitive person. Over the years, experience has toughened me but deep down, I feel pain more exquisitly than most healthy, non-depressed people. During my lifetime, I have learned to go from suffering silently to the extreme of being overly aggressive with my words. Now, as I am 'mellowing' with age, I would say that I am learning to choose my battles and preserve valuable energy for other problems. I still feel pain but I know to wait until my emotions die down a bit before I decide how to handle what I feel.

I wish I knew if my hyper-sensitivity started with my conception. Am I simply a product of biology? Was there one particular traumatic experience that triggered my growing brain to stop developing some important survival structures that would help me to bounce back? The questions are endless. I have no answers.

I remember so many instances of painful experiences growing up. Was that the majority of what I experienced or did I just set aside good memories and hang on to the sadder ones?

 I can remember feeling that I had trouble 'fitting in' when growing up. Yet, I wanted to so badly. I would parrot popular sayings, behaviors...anything, as long as I felt acceptance. I became ultra-agreeable. Whatever it took to be part of the flock-that's what I did.

I hate that about myself now. How pathetic! If only I had the courage to be an individual - unafraid to express myself! Of course, that was many years ago and I have forgiven myself those weaknesses, however, thinking about those times makes me feel so shallow.

The bottom of it was that I would not give myself permission to express negative emotions until finally, the toxins in my mind were violently pushing themselves out through my skin and through various physical ailments. I began to break out on my face, vomit in the middle of the night and get caught up in horrible panic attacks that made my heart race and left me gasping for breath. Agorophobia had me in it's clutches until I finally forced myself out, little-by-little. Before that, I could barely walk around the block without feeling incapacitating anxiety.

That was when I began to learn about myself and accepted the fact that I needed help. I kept looking for answers in books, magazines, herbal remedies, exercise-anything that might help me get emotionally stable.
I also started to express my anger. I was the 'yes man' to whoever seemed most dominant. I knew that was not the best way to go, so I began to disagree, to give myself permission to say no. That was definitely the hardest lesson to learn.

When I look back on all those many years when I made choices to be accepted rather than think things through and decide on what I really wanted, I still get angry with myself.

 Even in my adult life, when I should have known better, I still took the path of least resistance...just to keep the peace. I would swallow my dreams. I put all of my desires, my needs , aside so that my children and ex-husband could have their dreams, their desires fulfilled. I threw myself on the ground and became the #1 doormat in town.

How does this behavior fit in with being overly sensitive? It's the realization that all I did until very recently, all I said and had become was due to the fear of being rejected. I devised a way to short-circuit the trip-wire in my mind that made me feel too much. I turned my hurts into depression and tried hard to mask what I felt. I turned the dissapointments inward and stifled them.

Not knowing positively if my depression is biologically or emotionally-based, I can only guess why it follows me around all day. I assume much of it is environmental and some is hereditary, (both sides of the family had anxiety and depressive illness.) All I know is that my medications have helped me to stay steadier and have lessened the all too familiar attacks I sometimes encounter.

My overly-sensitive mind brings me to paranoid ideation. I obsess, I over-think and drive myself crazy. A word or lack of one can send me spiraling down, second guessing myself and trying to resist the temptation to aggressively fight back somehow, yet I ponder : Is my hurt really justified or am I paranoid once again?

One day I hope to be sure.