Let the (HSP) Buyer Beware: HSPs and “Wounded Puppy” Men (Part 2 of ?)

When we last saw our heroine, (that’s me, in case you weren’t keeping up), she was feeling crushed at discovering this wonderful Christian guy, who had a sketchy past, well…let’s just say that he hasn’t put his sketchpad away yet.

So…in the interest of not writing this entire post in the 3rd person:

It happened to be about 4:00 am, when I made the discovery.  I woke up in the middle of the night, as I often do, and looked at my phone.  For some reason, I thought this would be the optimal time to check out his Facebook profile again.   As I scrolled down further than I had the first time, I saw the incriminating pictures.  You would have thought I was discovering information about a long-term boyfriend. I felt so betrayed and hurt, and started formulated how I would approach the subject with him. Surely, I was owed an explanation.  That’s 4:00 am logic for you.  Well, it’s my logic no matter what the time of day, given the right circumstances.

By the time I woke up for real the next morning, I felt a lot less upset.  This usually happens.  Sleep is one of the best HSP medicines I’ve found so far.  I was disappointed, but not in the same way.  I decided that I need not even seek out an explanation.  It was clear: he had lied to me.  So, no matter what excuse he offered, he was not the kind of guy I need in my life.

Later that day, or maybe a couple of days later, I peeked in on his Facebook page again.  He had posted a couple of statuses about being all alone, looking for someone to share life with; looking for someone who won’t leave him.  Heart.  Melted.

“I want to share my life with you, Wounded Puppy Man!!  I will never leave you!  I will help you through all of your emotional woundedness!”  Rest assured: that was an internal dialogue only.

This sent me into a melancholy tailspin.  I just wanted to rush to him and take care of him and love him.  Of course, once my emotions went there, there was no coming back.  Fortunately, I was at work, so I had some sort of distraction.

Later that same day, he sent me a message out of the blue.  I talk about that here.

We have not had anymore contact since that evening.  I have looked at his page a few times, but I have no hopes at this point.

The thing that is so confusing is that he was so sincere in expressing his faith.  And we did have an amazing conversation, as I speak of in Part 1 of this saga.  Also, we had talked at great length about our past experiences.  I told him about a period of time during which I was egregiously lied to – by another Wounded Puppy, no less.  So much for the HSP’s ability to practically read other people’s minds and discern whether or not they are being sincere…

So, what are my takeaways from this silly, yet disappointing, waste of time and emotional energy?  We’ll get to that next time.

Let the (HSP) Buyer Beware: HSPs and “Wounded Puppy” men (Part 1 of ?)

I acknowledge that there are men with the Highly Sensitive Personality trait, but as an HSP woman, I’m going from that point of view.  However…if an HSP man stumbles upon this blog, I would be very interested in his point of view.

I’ve had my fair share of disappointments in the relationship department; and being determined to honor God in my dating choices and behaviors has greatly limited my options.  Of course, that’s a very small price to pay when it comes to being obedient to my Lord and Savior.

Because of some recent heartaches, I decided to make a list of things I need to know before becoming too interested in a man.  To be clear, things like salary, car make and model, or education are not on the list.  It’s more a list of questions I need to be able to answer about him and his faith, situations I need to observe him in, and how to behave and how not to behave while waiting to gather all of my information.

Here’s one of the biggies.  Well, they’re all big, but this one is most relevant right now:

Observe where unresolved issues may lie.  What is he doing to resolve them?  Are they issues that will get in the way of a healthy relationship? 

The Lord has been so faithful to have brought so many of my own issues to my consciousness in recent years, and has given me the heart to work on them.  Surely, I’m not done, but I’m taking steps to keep moving forward.  So, how wise would it be for me to become involved with someone who isn’t doing that same thing?  Anyone?  Yeah.  Didn’t think so.

Anyway, I recently met a guy who is about my age, a Christian and single.  I knew he had noticed me, so I was curious to get a chance to meet him.  When we did meet, we had a great conversation.  We agreed on several points about our faith.  That’s so rare, because I’m quite conservative with my beliefs.

He told me about his past.  He talked about jail, drugs, alcohol, told me about major fights…  But it was clear that all of that was in his past.

We had such a nice time talking that evening.  Ultimately, he asked me to see him again the next day.  That evening, I floated home in an HSP-induced haze of premature, blind love.  Then, I slept for a full two hours, waking up 7 hours before I was scheduled to meet him again.

Guess what I did for all that time?  I lay, alternately, on my bed and my sofa with my stomach tied in awful knots.  My brain knew that there was nothing about which I needed to be that anxious; but my body was hearing none of it.

The visit was mediocre, compared to the previous evening.  So, I left feeling sad and defeated, overthinking all the way…

During that visit, we did add each other on Facebook. Here is a good time to mention another item on my list:

If available, have a look at his Facebook, Instagram, etc.  What kinds of statuses, pics, jokes does he post?  Does he have lots of “hot girls” on his friend list and/or in his pictures? 

A couple of days later, I decided to follow my own rule; I decided to give his Facebook profile more than a cursory glance.  I’m so glad that I did!!  Closer “inspection” revealed a series of pictures and status updates that proved that he wasn’t really past his past..

This new information left me crushed.  I wish I could say that I just abandoned all notions of him right then and there.

Ron Burgundy’s Finger on the Pulse of Highly Sensitives

I know everyone has seen the Will Ferrell/Ron Burgundy memes.  I mean, they are everywhere.

That’s kind of the feeling I get when faced with, well, any kind of stimulus.  One minute, pretty much okay.  Next minute, tears may be forming, voice may be shaking, heart may be beating.  This is what probably seems to the untrained eye to be an overreaction.  Really, it doesn’t matter how strong the thought might be.  The body just takes it upon itself to behave as if the world might be coming to an end at any moment.

 

A Little Setback

Well, today kind of got derailed.  It started out okay, even though there were a few unexpected things this morning that could have brought me down.  Fortunately, I had a bit of time after my morning errands to get in a quick, nerve-soothing nap before getting ready to go to work. The start of the work day was decent.  Then, I saw that a certain person had posted something on Facebook.  Enter downward spiral.  This is a person who would really not be healthy to have in my life, yet I want them there.

Anyway.

I started thinking of “why” I am so drawn to this person.  It’s because my heart goes out to them, and it wants to save them.  Why am I saying “them?!”  It’s not a “them,” it’s a “him.”  Anyway, wanting to “save” a person and mend their broken places is not the same as actually having feelings for a person, with whom I could actually have a healthy relationship.  It seems that I fall into that trap a lot, without realizing it.

Well, now I’ve realized it.  But guess what?  That doesn’t mean I just stopped feeling like that.  However, it does mean I’m in a place to begin to work on getting past this tendency!  But it still doesn’t mean I just stopped feeling like that.  (Thank you, overly-active nervous system.)

Later in the evening, he sent me an inbox message out of the blue.  It was casual, but then I asked him about something that I guess he didn’t want me to ask.  It was just something I’d observed on his Facebook page.  At that point, he stopped answering me as quickly, and really wasn’t answering at all.

Do you think for a second that I was just like, “Well, whatever”?  If you do, you might want to reread this.  🙂

What did I do?  I felt horrible for the rest of the night.  As has usually been the case lately, I completely rationalized the situation.  There was no need to be surprised at his behavior.  And anyway, why should I be worried about his behavior, since I don’t want to communicate with him in the first place.  I want, but you get the picture…

From this point on, my only thought was: “get home, get on sofa, feel sad.”  I did force myself to finish loading the dishwasher and then started running it.  Major accomplishment, since the sofa was singing its siren song.

I did land fairly quickly on my sofa.  Even before we started exploring HSP, my counselor had asked me to keep a daily record of feelings and issues that come up each day.  So, I wrote about this.  Immediately, I started to feel better.  Then, I mindlessly watched some videos online, which honestly, also made me think less about this.  I realize that there is pretty much no spiritual value in these activities.

And here I am now.  I have forced myself to write, because I want to be consistent here.

So, my issue in all of this:

Why can’t I just bounce back?  Why does it take this whole feel awful forever thing?  What if this would have happened much earlier in the day?  Then, how would I have found the wherewithal to function for the rest of the day?

Lord, I need your strength.  I need you to help me push through from day to day.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

Please tell me:  how do you respond when there is no chance for “downtime”?  How do you manage to “push through?”

Bad Nerve Day

For some reason, I did not sleep for more than 4 hours from about Saturday to Tuesday last week.   Tuesday night,  I slept a little better. I woke up feeling fresh and ready to go on Wednesday morning! There was a training at work that morning, so I needed to be there early.  During the training, we had to do one of those group activities that everyone always loves.

When we were supposed to start, people just started grabbing materials and building a contraption for our egg.  (It was the egg drop game.)  Anyway, I wanted to take a moment to look at the materials and think of how it might be good to put them together.  One teammate said, “Um, you need to help!”  I was helping.  Just not in the way “they” did.  Did this snappy remark cut me to my core?  Yes.  Even with my good night of sleep.

When I did feel ready to offer input, I apparently did it too loudly for another teammate’s taste.  She looked at me dead in the face and said, “So, you’re just gonna tell everyone our business?”  I looked and waited for her to crack a smile.  Didn’t happen.

So, I spent the rest of the training feeling like a worthless human being.  Clearly, I knew this was not the case.  In fact, I also knew that they probably forgot their remarks as soon as they left their lips.  Doesn’t work like that for HSPs.  And certainly not for this HSP.

Shortly after the training, my supervisor said she wanted to talk with me.  She was kind of asking me to justify something I had requested of her.  Though there wasn’t a need to, I started crying while talking.  Last thing I wanted to do! So, here comes the “HSP talk.”  She did understand, and it was fine.  But this, along with two rude comments had already started eating away at my nerves.  There was a very thin layer between my nerves and the harsh elements by this point.

A few minutes after this, I ran into a coworker.  She asked me if I had spoken to someone from an agency that we work with.  I hadn’t, so she explained that there had been an accident near our workplace – and it was someone affiliated with our organization.  Ripped that last little protective layer right off!!

Fortunately, there were no other such irritants that day.  I probably would have had a breakdown.

Later, we got news that the victim of the accident was in stable condition.  Lots of broken bones, but bleeding stopped.  I gave up on feeling badly about the girls’ comments during the training.  And as I said, my supervisor and I were fine before we even finished our meeting.

Do you think my body got the memo that I was okay?  Do you think it said, “Okay, she’s fine now.  Nerves, retreat.”  Of course not!!!

Later into the evening, I still felt a cloud over me.  I still had tears in my eyes.  My body didn’t receive the message until the next morning, unfortunately.

Must find a way to recoup from rapid fire nerve irritants!  This is part of what made my previous job so hard for me.  There was always some sort of stimulus.  Not enough time to recuperate.  So, when it got really stressful, I had no layers left.  Not pretty.  Of course, at that time, I had no idea about any of this highly sensitive stuff.  I just thought I was “too touchy,” and something was just wrong with me.

Neurons are not meant to be exposed to wind, rain and sunshine.  You have to do what you need to do to keep those things covered up, people.  And if they get out, go out and  stay in and find something to cover them back up!  Like rest.  And quiet time.

Gift or Torture? Hard to Decide

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with who there is no variation or shifting shadow.  James 1:17 NASB

One of the spiritual gifts imparted by the Holy Spirit is the gift of discernment.  So, I suppose that’s one way it manifests itself: through HSPs.  But I would like to know how some of the other aspects of HSP can be used to God’s glory, and not as personal torture devices.  Am I the only one who sees certain traits as tortuous?

From where I stand right now, I’m failing to see a lot of this as anything other than that.  I’m just sayin’….

Getting all worked up and not being able to settle down – even when I know perfectly well that there’s nothing to be worked up about?  Crying at the drop of a pin?  Feeling like I need to retreat every 20 minutes, in order to recalibrate?  It’s like the birthday gift where several boxes and a lot of tissue are nested inside of each other.   The gift is way down inside in a teeny-tiny box.  “I know that gift’s in there somewhere!!! I just haven’t dug deep enough yet.”

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh,a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions,in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NASB

Ah, ok.  Well, I guess God just answered my question.  I just wanted to include the “I pleaded with the Lord…sufficient grace…” but when I looked up the passage and read it all, I was convicted with the answer to what I had said before.  Maybe this will be my thorn.  But Lord, please  don’t render me unable to cope with life, because of this!  Being on edge and wanting to cry a lot of the time is not  conducive to functioning well in society, I’d say.

In what ways have you seen your highly sensitive personality as a gift and/or burden?

 

Unbelievable

I am completely overwhelmed right now.  At least it’s in a good, let’s-marvel-at-God’s-timing way!  Recently, I became acquainted with a young lady who reminds me a lot of myself at her age.  So, I thought I might be able to give her some valuable advice, so that she might not make the same mistakes I did.

I had a chance to speak with her again this evening.  She said a couple of things about herself that completely resonated with me.  Then, she asked about my MBTi.  We compared, and are almost the same.  Shocker.

Then, I started wondering if she could possibly be an HSP.  I have not been around her nearly enough to formulate such an opinion, but we were running parallel on some many other things.  I didn’t ask, but I did ask if she felt like was sensitive.  Just sensitive.  No bells and whistles. Just that word.

Here is what she said,

“I’m currently reading a book about HSP, so…”

Did I almost fall over!?  Yes!!!!  I think it may manifest itself differently for each of us, but I couldn’t believe how we made that connection.  Well, I guess one HSP trait is being extremely intuitive and tuned in to other people’s feelings.  A lot of times I’m not, but then, there are times like this.  Wow, Lord.

 

Coping Strategies

There are several strategies for coping with HSP.  Since I’m fairly new to this, I haven’t tried out many.   So far, though, here is what has been working for me:

Sleep

It is said that HSPs need to make sure they have at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  Here it is, 2:00 am, and I’m preaching about sleep!  Anyway, I have found that when I have a very good night’s sleep, I am a lot more resilient the next day.  If not, I’m just an exposed nerve walking around.

Downtime

This one is a challenge for me, because I am an extravert.  Still, I’ve realized how very, very important it is for me to pull away from stimuli and relax.  I find that when I bounce from activity to activity, I get over-stimulated and it’s difficult to relax again.  So, I have started trying to space out my activities more.  And I try to plan ahead to rest, before entering a situation where I could potentially get hurt easily.

This approach makes me feel very lazy, but I know it’s necessary, in order for me function well when I do need to be out and about.

Telling People

I’ve been slowly explaining the HSP trait to friends and some relatives.  I cannot lie, I worry that people won’t take this seriously, or think I’m just saying, “poor me…”  Up until now, no one has said that.  I think telling trusted people is helpful, because I now have the confidence that they will understand some of my reactions to things.  They may, or may not, change their way of relating to me, but (as was the case today) they may kind of tell me that my impressions of their communication style are not a reflection on me.  As I mentioned in another post, worrying about what people think of me is a huge issue.

Prayer

Okay.  I will be completely honest on this one.  I have not really begun to adequately involve the Lord in my HSP journey.  He is involved, but not because I’ve turned to him on it.  I’m the kind of person who has a running dialogue with the Lord throughout the day.  So, there are times that I do ask for strength to handle certain situations.  I also feel that the Holy Spirit is helping me to have greater insight into recognizing when things are amiss.

**I will talk more about the spiritual aspect of my coping as it continues to develop and evolve.

I know there are so many other things I can do to replenish myself and to regain resiliency after it has been worn down on a given day.  However, these are my starting points.  They are really helping, and I can now see the negative difference made on the occasions that I do not implement these measures.

For the record, I don’t have to be at work until almost 3pm tomorrow.  So, I will get to get a good night’s sleep!  Let’s just hope that I can stay asleep, once I get there.

How about you?  How do you cope?  Most importantly:  how is God helping you along this journey?

My HSP “Symptoms”

I wanted to list some signs that led me to seriously consider that I may be an HSP, Highly Sensitive Person.  Here you go:

1.  When I get angry or upset, it takes me a long time to calm down.  Even if the conflict was satisfactorily resolved, I am still reacting physically.  I may have tears in my eyes long after the event; my chest gets really red – even to the point that people ask me about it; my heartbeat remains high; and other symptoms.

2.  I cry or get choked up very easily about things that other people wouldn’t.  Once I was talking about how several kids I knew were graduating, and my voice started to shake, and tears formed in my eyes.  Mind you, this was at a statewide service-provider meeting…

3.  I overthink.  Everything.

4.  I can never let go of worrying about what people think about me, or worrying about someone’s reaction to something stupid that I said.  I’ll ruminate on it for long after the moment has passed.

5.  Though I said I’m not sensitive to light and sounds, there is a major exception:  in the bathroom closest to my office at work has an alarmingly loud flush.  It reminds me of the toilet at school in kindergarten.  I hated to use that particular bathroom, because it was so loud.  I am also really unnerved by the loudness of my workplace toilet.  It’s not just like, “Oh, that’s loud and annoying.”  It makes me uncomfortable. Again, this is not usually an issue.  My favorite place in the world is New York City.  I have been to, and enjoy concerts.  I just can’t get past that toilet…

That’s all I can think of right now, because it’s late.  I’m SURE there are more.

What are you sensitive to?  What led you to explore what it means to be an HSP?