Highly sensitive people get highest grade

I feel I have just awakened from a dream. I see a mother, a father, as well as a  brother and sister smiling at me.  Each one is new to me. Each is the member of a family I have wanted to belong all my life. Ones that would understand and support me, no matter how different, how strange, how unlike others I may have appeared to the more “normal” people in the world.

I need this home where they seem to congregate and live. I need the unconditional love they offer. Unquestioningly. Almost anxiously awaiting my entrance, as if anticipating that after all these years. I would finally realize that I am one “with” them. One “of” them. And, be brave enough to admit it to my self.

I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP),

Not sure what it all entails, but after hearing from some 20 members of a group this weekend in Ambler, PA, a small borough outside Philadelphia, PA, in the USA, I  simply wanted to ask: “where have you been all of my life?”

They’re part of groups that have sprung up in recent years for people who go through life comforting others, providing that shoulder to cry on, the friend’s ear that you know will always be “leant” to listen and, now and then, that wise sage who might offer sound advice. They suffer inside. I suffer inside, taking on the anguish, the hurt another feels, needing one like me to “vent” to, a someone to “bitch and moan” to about a job, a relationship, an often crappy hand life seems to have dealt them.

Are we ‘Empaths?” asks the leader of this group. And each relates an individual story. A woman serving as care-giver to a dependent parent; a father of a son who has difficulty dealing with feelings of compassion and love in a world of jocks, geeks and over-achievers. What’s love gotta do with  getting ahead in a business world, a fast-paced universe that seems to award its highest grades to success, achievement, “getting to the top” at almost any cost, with no room for “sensitivity,” a trait, that at best, is tolerated, and at worst, viewed as a detriment?

We’re like sponges” one young man attending with his wife says. “We take on all the feelings of people around us.” he offered, adding that, often while at work, he must consciously view some people as “ghosts” in order to turn off what I call an “emotional sonar detector.”

The HSP comes from many walks of life. I heard from therapists, artists, medical practitioners, as well as teachers, college administrators and computer analysts. There were even two lawyers, who once faced each other in courtrooms representing opposing interests — those of a defendant, and those of the state committed to seeking  justice for a victim of a crime. Each attorney had cut back on that part of their courtroom practice, but not without scars.

I remember representing a young skinny white guy, a junkie, who broke into the home of a 76-year-old woman, knocking her to the floor of her doorway and beating her with her walking cane when he found no more than a measly $26 on her South Philadelphia kitchen table. Sharing this with the group, I’m told I might be an “Empath” when taking on the pain of not only my client’s deed, but the hell he forced on an unsuspecting innocent human being.

We exchanged many stories like these. And too soon, the meeting ended. I don’t want closure just yet, I say to myself. I just met a woman I want to know more about — I “sense” she is as “sensitive” as I am, and her husband is a Buddhist . . . I want to continue talking with the fellow who’s “into” mediation and tells me of research being done for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) using the drug Ecstasy. (Shades of Timothy Leary and the higher consciousness of a Ram Dass). Let me finish my discussion of right brain therapy with these others who have obtained this knowledge. I feel at home now.

Don’t want to leave. Don’t want to . . . face a world where I wonder if I’ll ever fit, ever belong, ever feel that I am not . . . alone.

Today, fortunately, things are much different. I know there are others like me. I feel joyful, elated — filled with more reasons to get out of bed and take on the sufferings of the world each wonderful day.

For more, see Elaine Aron and Highly Sensitive Persons Meetup Groups 

10 comments on “Highly sensitive people get highest grade

  1. Michael, I’m so glad you found this group to love and support you. And I agree with Ordinary Sparrow about sensitivity being a two-edged sword..certainly has been in my life..though now, all that’s “compost” for my growth….I’ve also found that without an awakening to what your new Tibetan friends call “absolute bodhicitta” I don’t see how one could become a bodhisattva; no “normal” being could take the pain and the near infinite demands.

    But, that’s just my musings, the big thing is how happy I am for you!



    • contoveros says:

      Like a faithful dog, I often feel I get more out of “showing gratitude” than the person I am tryng to share my gratitude with. Thanks Steven.


  2. sparrow says:

    Michael J. being a sensitive is a “blessing and a curse”. . .For years felt i lived in the world without skin. . .people would talk about shielding and calling in protective light to reduce the receptivity. . .found no relief there. Somewhere along the way accepted it and claimed it as a gift rather than a detriment. . .What has worked has been to not shield the world but to bring awareness to the places that have blocks to the natural flow of receptivity and its passing through. What i have found is pain and suffering occurs when something externally touches something that i have not cleared and there it gets sticky and stays around too long. . .

    Michael it seems to me your life path has brought you great wealth for the deep arising of compassion. . .which will be benefit for many. . . You are blessing. . .


    • contoveros says:

      I bought two “ordinary sparrows” at a hospital gift shop today. Felt drawn to them. As much as I feel drawn to you and your teachings.

      Yes, I call them teachings, because I am learning so much from you.

      This student bows to the Light you provide to all of us.

      michael j


      • sparrow says:

        Michael thanks for your kind heart and words. . .let it be known those two sparrows and this one in the Heartland will be sending you prayers as you see your Doctor today. . .May it is good news. . .We are all in this together, walking side by side. It is blessing to find cyber nest with such gracious people in the last few weeks. My heart recognizes you as friends. Thanks to you Michael. . .


  3. kim says:

    The last time I reached out to someone, I got slapped back so hard it shook me to the core. A friend finally pointed out that empaths just don’t think like other people. When we go out on a limb, we set ourselves up for abuse. Sometimes people don’t want to be helped. Perhaps they feel they deserve pain. It never occurs to us that compassion can be so badly misinterpreted. I learned a valuable lesson.


    • contoveros says:

      Licking our wounds, we return, gingerly at first, like a kitten or puppy dog . . . to lavish our compassionon on the nest sentient being. Shyly at first. Maybe even more timidly. The child in us knows what it’s like to be batted away like an unwanted caress given to yet another child who’s angry, hurt and full of misunderstandings that altruism given requires absolutely nothing in return.

      Still, we give of our “Self.”

      Whether we want to or not.

      It’s in our make-up, isn’t it?

      Would we want to have any other way?


  4. sparrow says:

    Thanks for this one Michael J. . . .very interesting. . .


    • contoveros says:

      I think many men suffering from PTSD may have had a streak of “sensitivity” in them during the trauma they experienced. Thank God, their “humanity” enabled them . . . “us” . . . to live through those moments — unprocessed — until we could experience them later near someone who’s better able to help us deal with our wounds.


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