I Bounce Back Like a Ton of Bricks

The Lord has helped me become more even-tempered lately, with these verses coming to mind quite often:

[a]What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? [b]Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask [c]with wrong motives, so that you may spend it [d]on your pleasures.  James 4:1-3

Keeping that truth in mind helps me not get to the point where others’ words or actions bother me to the point of that I plunge into the quicksand of my emotions.

That’s how it’s been going lately.

That is not at all how it went today.

When I woke up, I looked at my email on my phone.  (I should have had prayer time before checking my phone, but that’s not what happened.)   The first email I saw was an unnecessarily condescending work email.  An innocent bystander would not view the words in the email as condescending. The innocent bystander is also not aware of the subtext.

After reading the email, my heart immediately started beating quickly.  I was mad.  For the rest of the morning, I did not stop thinking about that email.  Instead, I chose to stew on it and nurture my anger at the person who sent it.

At work, the same person had a conversation with me – about a different topic – that was much more condescending than the email from this morning.  The tone of voice was actually on the pleasant side, but again, subtext ruled.  There was nothing I could do, except meekly acknowledge that I was in the wrong.  (I wasn’t, but it’s often best to just go with it.)

Just writing about today’s happenings brought on a much-needed cry.  It was more of a half-cry, because I got distracted.

This evening, the bulk of my mental space was used on crying out to the Lord that I hate this person.  Again, probably not the best thing to do; but I figure it’s better than saying it to the person or talking behind their back.  The rest of my mental space was used on crying out to the Lord to help me not to hate the person.

19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. Romans 7:19

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from [r]the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25 

This is what makes being an HSP so frustrating to me. There is absolutely no reason why I should still be upset about the email or the conversation.  These incidents are just par for the course, and are not a true reflection on me as a worker or as a human being, in general.  Yet, they still cut so deeply when they do happen. It is a longstanding battle for me not to sin in my anger or self-pity at the toxicity of this situation.

PS: I have changed the settings, so that work emails don’t come through on my phone anymore.

My Prayer

Last night, I prayed that God would let me not be an HSP anymore.

I know he made this way for a purpose, but to me, it just feels like I can’t have a productive life:

Feeling exhausted, because I lying awake all night from sheer excitement over who knows what.

Not being able to eat, because my stomach is tied into a knot. Again, for no reason that deserves that much stress.

Not being able to hide or turn off emotions in public places. This is fine when the emotion is a good one; but being in heart-wrenching pain does not wear well on the face, I’m realizing.

How am I supposed to work, feeling like this? What kind of job allows you to come in earlier or later, depending on your previous night’s sleep? Which job allows for interaction with others, but gives enough space for unwanted tear leakage?

The Lord will give me strength to get through this. The Lord has an answer to all of my questions.

I must trust Him more.

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 ENFP/J ISO: Balance

Now that you’ve had your alphabet review for the day.  haha.

The further I go on this journey of understanding this part of me that is a Highly Sensitive Personality, the more paradox I discover.  As we know, only about 20% of the world’s population is HSP.  Then, about 30% of that 20% is extroverted.

Guess who falls into that teeny, tiny, imperceptible crack in the personality pavement?

I’ll give you a hint:

It’s me.

I fall into the crack.

The first time I took a Myers Briggs type test was in high school, over 20 years ago.  (Oops!  Just told on myself.)  Since that time, I have consistently scored as Extrovert iNtuitive Feeling, usually Perceiving, sometimes Judging.  Hence, ENFP/J.  Of course, I have never needed any old personality test to tell me that I thrive off of being around people, socializing, and talking.

For the most part, I spent my childhood years as an only child, so I always wanted to be out, playing with friends.  In college and afterward, I remember very few spans of time where I was alone, without plans of going somewhere or hanging out with friends.  That is, unless I was sleeping or studying.

Once, as a young Christian, I decided to offer to God a fast of my social life for several weeks.  I only participated in church activities and bible studies during that time.

To this day, I get much more done around the house when I have a guest or am talking on the phone.  To be sure, no one rushes over here to watch (not even help! just watch) me clean, but if they would, my house would be a lot cleaner.  🙂

In the past several years, I do feel that I’ve become more of an introvert.  I can’t imagine that I will even completely “convert, ” but I appreciate more and more the need for some alone time.  Some quiet time.

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.