Down the Twisty Slide – and Up Again

Yesterday was a highly emotionally charged day.  I like to say that I had what I call an “HSP flare-up” yesterday.  It began the night before, with someone telling me what a group of people whom I serve in ministry thought of me.  I admit, I did solicit this information. The answer was what I had expected, but not at all what I actually wanted to hear. *steps onto the spiral slide*

Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling miserable; questioning my whole reason for being.  I resolved that I wanted nothing more to do with this people group.  Ever.  *sits down on the spiral slide* This would be a tall order, considering that I have been involved with this group for seven years.  They are my community.  Cultural differences and misunderstandings abound.  But they are my community, and I love them.  And I can’t stand them at times.

I spent the morning questioning the Lord:

  Why did you put me with them? 

        Or did I really put myself with them, and you didn’t want me with them in the first place?  

        Have I wasted my time with them?  Learning their language? 

        If I’m not working with them, what purpose will I have in my life? 

    Is there anyone is this community whom I can still trust? 

        Where will I find community?  

        Who? What? Why? When? Where? How!?!!! 

Suffice it to say…this is not an exhaustive list of questions and thoughts racing through my mind.

*pushes off and begins descent down the spiral slide*

There was a catch to all of this:  A woman from this particular people group had invited me over for my favorite meal from their country.  I’d have to put my resolve on pause long enough for me to enjoy the delicious lunch.  (Don’t judge me!)

When I got to my friend’s home, a woman whom I (most likely unfairly) suspected of being one of my “most-(un)wanted” list was also there.  She spoke to me in their language, and I informed her that I would only be speaking English on that day.  I never have English-only days, even if I’m alone all day! In any case, seeing her started priming the pump on my tear ducts and got my heart all twisted up in knots. Fortunately, she left after just a few minutes.

Really, friends, if you saw this woman, you would never-ever-ever believe that she was on the list.  I don’t even believe it myself.  

The meal itself was straight out of an HSP food nightmare for me.  You see, there are two ways of making this soup.  The kind I like is the clear broth. This one had a generous amount of rice flour, which added a creamy, slippery feel to the noodles in the soup.  In textural anguish, I ate half of the bowl.  The hostess was very understanding, a fact of which I am very grateful.

She could see that I was not okay, so while making all efforts not to bawl in front of her, I explained what had triggered my emotional state.  I didn’t go into the spiraling details, though.  She was understanding and attempted to offer some insight.  Earlier, I’d received some other helpful insight, but I was still upset.

At this point, the “most (un)wanted” lady returned.  Since I had least allowed a few tear droplets to escape, I managed to act somewhat normally with her for the rest of my quick visit.  She actually needed me to help with something; and I was able to suggest to her next steps to take in solving the issue.  *pause mid-spiral*

Feeling a little better, but not completely cathartically satisfied (yes, I just made that up) and definitely gastronomically dissatisfied, I rushed off to work; with no time remaining to grab something a bit palatable on the way.  In the parking lot, I hastily dashed out yesterday’s post on my phone app.  Then, I read some of the blogs I follow.  One of the blogs had a particularly touching post, which I could not even read all the way through for fear of, ummm, catharting (made that up, too) too much right before work.  *resume sliding*

On the way into the building, I got stopped in my tracks by an intriguing – but dead – group of flower blossoms.  This resulted in an impromptu pre-work photo session.  *pause again*

During work, I usually listen to Christian songs in the (un)wanted language.  Yesterday was not an exception, and I continued to listen on my drive back home.  As I approached my neighborhood, I started singing one of the songs that I’ve sung in church before.  The next song is a song about looking back on the mistakes one has made, in the interest of building friendships.  Then, it implores God to lead back onto the straight path.  This song perfectly fit the situation that had me so upset.  I envisioned myself singing the song and giving a testimony in church – sort of a confession and an apology. *sliding mode: on*

Singing this song with all of my heart, I pulled into my driveway.  And the dam was broken.  The tears flowed.  All of the pain that had been imprisoned in my heart all day finally made its escape.   *destination end of spiral:  reached*

Following this much-needed catharsis, I somewhat expected to retreat into a state of self-pity on the sofa.  I did.  And I finally also did what I had needed to do from the very beginning of this awful day:  I took some time with the Lord.  I read from the Bible study I’m doing now.  Ironically, we’re going through the book of Job right now.

In a complete contrast to yesterday, I felt a renewed sense of joy and purpose today – even with regards to that community.  Yesterday’s despair hardly seems reasonable, or even real, anymore.  How does this happen?  How could I spend a night and an entire day in complete mental torment, and then have it dissolve the next day?

To be clear:  I much prefer this renewed state.  I prefer to be at the top of the slide, but not even planning to go step onto it.

How can I stay here?  And if I happen to start down, how can I prevent myself from reaching the bottom?

That remains to be seen.  I want to learn how to, at least, shorten these rides.  While I’m in the midst of them, I can’t even conceive of there being any other way to look at the world.  Afterward, I have no idea how I possible allowed myself to sink so low – even if only for one day.

The Lord.

The Lord is with me.

The Lord knows that I am an HSP.

The Lord is unchanging, even though I am ever-changing.

The Lord is faithful, and He always does the following:

 

      3He restores my soul;
       He guides me in the paths of righteousness
            For His name’s sake.

      4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
            I fear no evil, for You are with me;
            Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4

Turnaround

I’ve had lots of great days of embracing my HSP traits lately. Today is not one of them.

Today is a day in which I’m grateful to work alone in a small, locked room where very few people enter or exit during the day.

My nerves are poking through my skin like a 5 o’clock shadow right now. Cannot handle anymore stimuli.

I need the Lord so much. And I repent of having looked everywhere except to Him for comfort, reassurance, and healing this morning.

HSP? Or not?

As I’ve been learning more about what it means to be an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I’ve started examining pretty much all of my little quirks under a highly-sensitve microscope.  Everything I do, I think, “That must be because I’m an HSP.”

Here are a couple of the suspects:

1. Soggy food:  I absolutely cannot eat soggy cereal or waffles (or any other soggy thing) without feeling ill.  Even as I type this, I feel a little creepy.  Once, when I was young, I put too much syrup on my waffles.  As a punishment, my mom made me finish them anyway.  It probably took a half hour.  It was awful.

2.  Oatmeal and grits:  I think it’s safe to say that I have issues about food texture.  Oatmeal and grits just feel awful in my mouth.  Can’t eat them.  Can’t be near someone eating them.  Can’t think about them for too long. Oatmeal more so than grits, but grits are yucky, too.  They’re all grainy, and then they get hard and flat if they start to cool off.

My dad recently told me that he also can’t be around people eating oatmeal.  I didn’t grow up with my dad, and I only see him once or twice a year.  So, making that little discovery was fun.

3.  Nuts or fruit chunks in food:  Okay, this one might not be as legit, but it still bothers me.  Aside from the fact that I don’t like the taste of nuts, I can’t bear to be eating a nice chewy (NOT soggy) muffin, or something, and “crunch!”  There’s a nut.  If you’re going to be crunchy, be crunchy.  If you’re going to be cake, be cake.  You can’t be both!!!

As for the fruit chunks…when I make a smoothie, I use mango and peach pieces, along with yogurt, ice and some other fruit.  On occasion, the fruit will not get thoroughly blended.  When I drink my smoothie, then, there will be slimy surprise-chunks of fruit, destroying my ability to enjoy.  I can’t just eat them.  Oh no… those things get thrown out.  Blah.

4.  My cat:  I love my cat.  I have always been a cat person.  Even so, I do not appreciate when she rubs all up against me, trying to force me to pet her.  For that matter, I don’t even like to see her rub all over the side of the sofa, the door, or any other object that she deems worthy of petting her.

There are a few others, but I’ll just keep those to myself.

Seeing these in writing kind of makes me aware of how silly they are. I’m curious, though:  do any other HSPs out there get bothered by the same types of stimuli?

Happy, with a Blue Tongue

I’m feeling particularly cheerful today.  Thank you, Lord!!

This weekend, I determined that I would make a conscious effort to start nurturing the extrovert in me as much as I have been protecting the HSP in me.  

I think I’ve kind of started overdoing it, in terms of HSP care.  Since I don’t go to work until mid-afternoon, I stick around the house, doing chores, relaxing, whatever.  The idea is to coat my nerves with so much downtime salve, that they become resilient for when it’s time to face the day and go to work.  

The nature of my job allows me to complete all of my tasks with very little need for human interaction.  The nature of myself causes me to find ways to infuse human interaction into my day.  Still, the lack of interaction within my general duties is actually quite exhausting to me. 

I’ve become kind of mousy, quiet and stiff lately, too.  My previous job had a slightly more open office layout, and the job required a great deal of interaction with clients, which was energizing in itself.  My coworkers and I also had quite a bit in common, so that lent itself to more lightheartedness. Now, I’m just old and boring, it feels like.  

It seems that “en vogue” thing recently is for some (not all) introverts to trumpet the exhaustion they suffer from us energy-sucking, extroverted Nosferatus. I’m just here to report:  there are ways to drain the lifeblood from extroverts, too.  

Extroverts lose energy from isolation and lack of contact.  

It’s not superficial.

It’s not selfish. 

It’s just so.  

Back to this weekend:  I semi-spontaneously went to visit a family, on whom I hope to have a positive spiritual influence as time goes on.  While I was there, their relatives came to take them to the park.  On the spur of the moment, I decided to tag along.  

It was so refreshing to go and enjoy some spontaneous time with friends! 

Saturday was a fairly major fail, in terms of extrovert care.  I actually had a mini-panic attack as I began to think that my destiny would be perpetual isolation, save for work and required events.  (Yes. I am slightly given to extreme shifts in thought.  Go figure.) 

Today, I was out most of the day.  Near the end of the day, several members of my church went to the park for a barbecue.  What a large amount of meat have I consumed today… 

I had a few moments of inner despair, but for the most part, it was an enjoyable, relaxing evening.  

The evening ended with an ice cream truck pulling through the park and me getting a blue Screwball ice cream.  Truth be told, I do miss the red ones, but this one was pretty good.  Really, I just wanted a Mickey Mouse bar, with the chocolate-covered chocolate ears, vanilla face, and chocolate mouth and eyes.  

But being able to proceed to the supermarket as a nearly 40-year old woman, with a blue tongue, kind of made it worth it.