Thin Skinned

Why is it, that people point out sensitivity as though it were a handicap? “Oh, she’s just very sensitive.” A statement often given in ‘that’ voice – I’m sure you know the condescending tone I’m referring to.  A comment often delivered in a somewhat back handed compliment approach.  You find yourself forced to return a smile to your insulter as they grin belittling you all under the guise of charm, pointing out your ‘endearing’ quality that friends and family must begrudgingly endure because…. well, after all – she can’t help it!

Yes, I am sensitive. I feel everything with monumental force and passion. I’ve tried my darnedest to become thick-skinned, I’ve envied those who are and tried to mimic their responses, but for the life of me I cannot become it. I have resigned myself to the fact, that I am and always will be, thin-skinned.

I find it interesting that ‘one in five’ people are born thin-skinned, highly sensitive people – as well ‘one in five’ women in America are currently prescribed anti-depressant medication? Coincidence? I wonder. When did the powers that be in society decide thin-skinned people were weak, in some cases considered sick? I believe that once upon a time sensitive people were considered gifted, healers, prophets, not ‘sufferers’ of illness but instead these traits were nurtured and revered.

It’s taken me forty-five years to realise that being ‘thin-skinned’ is in fact not a character flaw, but my strength. Yes, it takes me forever to make decisions, as I break down every possibility and how it will make everyone feel – Yes, I am passionate and sometimes react to things in an over the top manner, which might seem dramatic to those who don’t feel things as powerfully as I do. I find it hard to ‘let things go’ until I know that everyone is ok, that everything is sorted. I cry a lot! I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad. Due to my range of emotions, a psychiatrist once told me that despite my diagnosis I would just be a downright pain in the a*se to live with! Geez, thanks for that!

I get how these ‘sensitive’ character traits can be irritating to those who are thick-skinned. I grew up with a big brother whom I loved dearly but, he was as vastly unemotional as I was overly emotional. I remember many a one sided feud, one-sided in the way that he could not see the point of expressing himself, which made me furious and frustrated. He would stone faced watch me rant and then ask, “Are you done?” I would yell back, “No, I am not done. I want to know how you feel!” I may as well of been asking him to fly me to the moon. I was asking the impossible, just as asking me to feel less was equally impossible.

In fact this very situation arose for me yesterday. I’m a little cranky with myself over it. Silly Silly me dropped my guard, dragged out those rose coloured glasses of mine, the ones I thought I’d hidden away, I opened my heart and invited someone into my world with  expectations that they would respond to me, as I would to them. When will I learn! Just as expecting a lamp post to hug me is unrealistic, so too was it for me to expect support from someone who see’s the world so differently. Now yes, I know, ‘different’ does not always have to mean one is wrong and one is right… it’s just different. I know this. I’ve spent years parroting this to my boys. But, I’ve got to say – my heart is bruised and confused. So now I fight the negative thoughts, is this me? Is this me being too ‘sensitive’? Why do I care so much? Why do I care that a loved one is not interested in my world.

I honesty cannot help it. I utterly feel too much. Think too much, expect too much from others and from life in general. Sadness, anger, betrayal all felt to the extreme. Ok, so I know you’re wondering how exactly is this a strength? Well, I also feel too much love, empathy, kindness and joy. I have a heart that wants the whole world to feel loved, I see goodness when others see imperfection. I feel when you’re hurting, I am aware of your pain when others would just keep walking, not because they don’t care but because they are not sensitive to picking up on others emotions. My mum calls me a detective because I always push her to tell me what’s ‘really’ going on, despite her smile and “everything is fine” – I can feel it is not and will call her on it.

Living in a house full of boys, it’s no surprise that they often joke about my emotional neediness. Needy? Me? Yes, I am and how lucky their wives will be one day after the training I have put them through. Due to this rigorous training, they now get when to offer no advice and just hug me, when mummy needs cake or when it’s easier to give in and tell me what’s ‘really’ going on rather than dismiss my enquires. They still struggle with the amount of words I need to use to convey my feelings, they have requested I try and keep it to four words – if not, they cannot guarantee to remain focused. Four words of course is impossible, and sometimes, God love them, mid sentence they hold up four fingers to remind me I’ve used my quota, I need to wrap it up.

So to all the hard-skinned ones out there who find it difficult to cope with what comes out of our heads, just imagine how exhausting it is for us inside our heads! Be patient with us thin-skinned, we really are trying to toughen up – we just struggle a little.

Now to my fellow thin-skinned
If your wondering… am I thin-skinned? Have you ever used the term ‘kindred spirit’ to describe someone you connect with? If so, you’re definitely one of us. So my loves, guard your fragile hearts, be discerning with who who share your inner world with, so that you are not crushed my those who misunderstand your incredible powerful strength. You are needed in this world to bring light and wonder. You have a gift of seeing beyond the surface. Be brave and proud.

Love Meli x

One thought on “Thin Skinned

  1. Hahahahaha…. Oh Meli you make me laugh, I love reading your blogs and find they always hit home no matter the topic. I guess I would say I am thick skinned, I don’t let most things get to me and I’m such a control freak with my emotions. But when I crack – that thick layer is like safety glass smashing – the hits can come and come but eventually it all falls down. We ‘thick-skinned’ people need to value our ‘thin’ friends as they reflect so much back at us that we often don’t see. You keep being thin honey…..the world needs more of it!


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