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By Candy Crawford

I turned the big 50 this year and have been reflecting more than usual.  I am taken back by how profound my entire life has felt and how numinous the future appears.

May I begin with a conclusion that life appears stuck in fast forward? No matter what I do or how I try to slow it down the weeks quickly vanish and calendar page turns. Can someone just slow life down and allow us to be in this moment for a few minutes longer than the last one?

Is there a term for external claustrophobia? I don’t know about you but it appears someone is on a mission to fill in every single piece of land with a building or road. I was recently driving back from the north woods where there are very few buildings and roads and the closer I came to suburbia the more I felt closed in and dare I say, claustrophobic? The opposite occurred while driving to the lake, trees and open sky. My entire system began to relax as though the physical surroundings were capable of massaging my nervous system into a delicious state of peace and stillness.

On another note I’m finding it harder to engage in small talk. It’s been a stretch for me since a young age but the older I get the less tolerant I am for discussing sport team victories and the latest technology. No wonder I was reading Wayne Dyer and Elie Wiesel in high school!  Pining for this frequency can deepen and yet distance my relationships. The majority appear content discussing the weather. It’s painful to get through many social situations. Another hsp referred to this as “cow sitting.” It’s as though everyone in the room were content watching tv where I am  wanting to discuss how the stars change or discuss the connections between suffering and beauty. It can be easy to conclude I don’t fit here.

I wish there was a small pamphlet we could hand each neighbor, teacher, healthcare worker and relative to explain the unique dynamics of living as a highly sensitive person. Word is getting out but it’s not fast enough. Even when the word gets out who really gets this but another sensitive soul?

Is there anything more painful than being over aroused? It’s treacherous physically and giving the critical time for the brain to recharge is often just as toilsome. It’s those times I’ve often felt misunderstood, frustrated and dare I say, impaired.

As difficult, scary and risky being transparent is, each time it occurs I note to self “never forget how satisfying and delicious this feels.” A blatant reminder we were created for community. That being said, I am never ever “caught up” with all the relationships in my life. I’m always behind and letting someone down. The desire is there but who has the brain stamina to engage with all these wonderful folks that inhabit my world? I don’t. It’s one of the hardest realities of life.

Our bodies are sensitive. Add on raging hormones, poor diet and idleness and feel what happens. How sobering to reap what we sow. Thankfully the reverse is true. How wonderful to inhabit a body that responds rather quickly and positively to movement, good touch, clean eating, water and rest.

Being highly sensitive can be painful, uncomfortable and isolating. It can also be deeply rewarding and meaningful. Last night a simple encounter with the pizza delivery man reminded me of that. Our topic turned to his day job of treating trees with diseases.  I disclosed how distressing it is for me to observe ancient trees being cut down. I told him his day job is not to be undervalued. My comment led to his disclosure that he is a recovering addict and his future looked extra bright. My eyes filled with tears as I thought of the deep inner strength this man had befriended. As my tears appeared I quickly wondered should I hide them or be who I am. I was impacted by this moment so I chose to not hide and instead reached out to shake his hand and told him I admired him. His look was one I will not forget. I walked into the kitchen and told a family member “I just cried with the pizza man” and as goofy as that sounded I knew my sensitivity had just gifted us both.