Torn: Highly Sensitive and Highly Self-Centered

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14

 Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker…  Does the clay say to the potter: ‘What are you making?’ Isaiah 45:9

While reading and learning more about HSP, I have noticed that it is considered to be a gift to be grateful for.  After all, the Lord made us this way. Just days into starting this blog, however, I composed an entry in which I expressed doubt that there could possibly be anything positive about being an HSP.  The only use I could see for this trait was to make me cry or become very angry and tense at what would appear to be inopportune moments.

Much of the literature I’ve read on Highly Sensitive Persons mentions that HSPs are very in tune with other people’s feelings and thoughts.    Intuition and insight into others’ feelings and thoughts are part of the gift.  This is why HSPs often find themselves in helping/human services, I’d imagine.

In all my reading about HSP, my life has basically been flashing before my eyes.  So many aspects of my life started to make sense through the lens of my Highly Sensitive Personality.  Hurts, heartaches, mistakes, embarrassments…

There was a glaring exception, though:

The bits about being sensitive to what others felt and needed did not resonate with me.  At all.

How could this be possible?!  I am a model HSP in so many ways!  How on earth did I miss out the empathy part?

Then, it came to me.  My greatest downfall in life has been self-focus, or self-centeredness.  Let me be clear:  I never, ever had the thought, “I’m more important than everyone around me.  Therefore, I will put all my needs first and expect them to do the same.”  That may have seemed to be the case, but it simply is not true.

Looking back at my childhood, I can see some ways in which I could have become this way.  Though I am not an only child, I was one for several years before my mother had a second child.  As an only child, and after my brother was born, I was given most of what I wanted.  I was taught to think highly of myself from a very early age, with regard to physical appearance and intellect.

(side note:  if I ever have an academically gifted child, this child will not be made aware of high standardized test scores and percentiles.)

These circumstances are a breeding ground for conceit and self-centeredness.  Let’s also not forget that every, single person living on the planet is a sinful human being who, to some extent, is inherently selfish.  It’s just that some of those humans grow up in situations that teach them to think more highly of the needs of others.

I didn’t.

But can God redeem that time?  Of course, he can!

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten….”  Joel 2:25

In hindsight, I only remember very few situations in which I was very open to sense another person’s feelings.  Mostly, I remember being so wrapped up in my feelings and needs that I (unknowingly) built a wall between myself and the other person.  This wall prevented me from recognizing their needs and/or intentions on deeper levels, and possibly prevented me from being able to speak life to a person who may have needed encouragement.

Again, God can and does redeem our lost time!  Even before I began to learn about HSP, I’d been working to be less self-centered and to focus more on others.  It is a work in progress, let me tell you!  Still, God has been changing me step-by-dying-to-self-step.

How can I make the most of this part of my HSP “gift”? And if you also experience the sensitive/self-centered dichotomy, how can you? 

I’ve actually composed a list in answer to that question, but I’m going to take my own advice and pray before posting it.  It just doesn’t read right; and I want to step back and think it over.  Maybe even rewrite.  Let’s see.

 

Let the (HSP) Buyer Beware: HSPs and “Wounded Puppy” Men (Part 3 of 3)

I’m thinking I can only eke out this one more post on this topic.  So, let’s get to it.

Most of what I’ve read about HSPs includes that we are very sensitive to other people’s emotions, as well. Very empathetic.  It’s mentioned that HSPs seem like we are psychic, because we can perceive others’ emotions so well.

I won’t go much into being “psychic.”  However, I can see why this would make us susceptible to these types of troubled guys, the “wounded puppies.”

First, we see the surface.  Ohhhh, this guy is trouble.  Then, we talk for a couple of minutes.  Or maybe more.  In between all of the rough, tough and rude, some little phrase or personal information slips out.

That tiny crack in the veneer is not a “tiny crack” to an HSP.  It’s a wide-open door, with a sign that says “look into my heart. Rescue me.”  It probably doesn’t actually have a sign, but we create that sign in our imaginations.  We want to know who hurt him.  When?  How can I make it better?

“Project!!!”

These guys very well may need help.  But guess who should not be the one to give it?  You got it:  the HSP female, who will fall in love with his wounded-ness.  In romantic love.  An actual canine puppy? No problem.  We can cuddle it, we can nurse it back to health, but we will never envision a relationship with this puppy. Because, well, it’s a puppy.  That’s why.

On the other hand, Puppy-Man should not be seen as a potential mate.  Puppy-Man may not even know that he needs/wants our help.  He will probably be resentful and push us away.  And what will that do to our tender hearts?

So, HSP sisters, back away from Puppy-Man.  You can’t fix him.  You can – and should – pray for him.  You can – and should – seek out some strong Christian brothers who might befriend him.  However, this must NOT be with the goal in mind that they will fix him, and you can date him.

This is not to say that Puppy-Man is 100% undateable.  It’s just that it can never be your goal.  If it ever comes back around to the two of you, that’s wonderful.  But please, PLEASE do not date him during his healing time.  And if you don’t date him, don’t sit in the waiting room, while he’s in the Puppy ICU.  I can’t decide which of those two actions would be worse.

I’ve realized that all of what I’ve said has come from a place of protecting your HSP heart.  Let me also talk about Puppy-Man’s heart.  IF he falls in love with you in this state, it will not be a healthy love.  It will be a selfish, needy love.  He’s too mired in his issues to truly love you in a godly way.  He may not even truly have a relationship with God, that is based in love, fear and obedience.  That’s why he’s in the state he’s in to begin with!

Anyway, there will come a point where you’ll discover the unhealthy nature of his love codependence for you.  You will decide that this is not what you desire.  And you will want to leave the relationship.  (Worse yet, you’ll be like me and stay, anyway.  Two years ago.  Not with this one.) If you leave, his heart will be broken.  Puppy-Man can neither give healthy love, nor respond to it.  So, when this love is withdrawn, it will cause him further damage.

What is the most loving (and healthy) way for an HSP to handle a Puppy-Man?  Kindly back away from even a friendship.  As soon as it becomes clear that he is in such a condition, and is not doing anything to seek help, you need to end the friendship.  Please trust me on this.  If you don’t, you’ll both fall in love for all of the wrong reasons.  You will not be able to be “just friends.”  Please trust me on this.  I’ve been through it too many times.  And no, it won’t be “different” for you.

Every, single person you will ever meet has issues, hurts, insecurities and sins.  No one will be fully healed and sinless until they are with the Lord in heaven.  But look at how the wounds are being treated.  They are being treated in one of two ways:

1.  He is licking his own wounds, using alcohol, drugs, fighting, and/or rudeness.  Or he may be licking his wounds with good old denial that they even exist. There are countless other “home remedies” that may be employed, but these are the ones I usually find in my Puppy-Men’s cabinets…

OR

2.  He is rushing to the only One who can bind his wounds.  He is giving up all of his “over-the-counter” meds and tossing all of his home remedies.  He is repentant and ready to follow the “Doctor’s orders.”

Only the men from the second category will be able to truly love you and receive your love in a healthy and honest manner.

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.