Hurt people hurt people, as the saying goes. It doesn't make getting your heart broken any easier, particularly if you feel very deeply.
Being sensitive can feel like a curse. On the other hand, neither acknowledging nor processing the pain can present predicaments far worse: Becoming one of those hurt people who hurt people.
In the West we're rather uncomfortable with pain. We suppress and medicate. Pain is relegated to our private lives, and we are faced with it alone. We rarely discuss it publicly, except when related to death and dying, and even then words are sugarcoated and scant; prayers are sent, people are sorry for your loss.
But grief is so much more than loss of life. Even healthy and necessary transitions, such as adjusting to grown kids heading off to college, or giving birth to a child, may bring about necessary mourning periods.
In indigenous and tribal cultures, past and present, there exist rituals to release the old, coming of age ceremonies, and the general expectation that individuals faced with significant loss will need up to a year's time to grieve.
Working Americans usually receive three days bereavement.
When those around us notice that perhaps we've been grieving too long, they encourage us to consider antidepressants to cope, not knowing how to sit with us through the pain. They make such recommendations believing it is in our best interest. But is it?
For highly sensitive women, the pain can be even more acute. Not only are we faced with our own wild emotion; we tend to take on those emotional energies around us unwittingly, leading to increased emotional breakdowns and the belief that we are "out of control."
Early on we're taught as women that we're supposed to be caretakers; even as little girls we've already internalized this assumed role. When confronted with feelings we don't know how to process and are unable to suppress, we feel we have failed. We learn to distrust the healthy expression of our sadness. We fear that in so doing, we may lose control and be unable to regain it.
Can we learn to feel deeply, to come home to ourselves as sensitive women? Might we acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to no longer abandon our own needs, and allow ourselves to grieve as much and for as long as necessary?
To do so might be the ultimate act of rebellion.
For sensitive women, there lives a critical voice inside that warns us not to take up too much space, speak too loudly, or express ourselves too intensely.
I've believed something must be wrong with me fundamentally to cry tears that I felt "should be gone by now." So much repressed grief surfaced when I quit my corporate career that I went into hiding for a time, could hardly rouse myself to freshen up and leave the house on necessary errands. My choking sobs pierced the silence again and again, until I felt spent enough to collapse into sleep.
Grief is intense.
Giving myself permission to hold space for those shadowy emotions in all their agonizing glory has set me free. The trappings of my past perfectionism are relaxing their stronghold. I'm feeling more joy. I'm writing again, finding my voice, doing my right and aligned work.
I'm becoming more myself.
Believing our emotions are anything but natural is dangerous to the spirit. We lose hope, deeming ourselves critically flawed.
Sensitive Ones, all of your delicate, sensual, visceral emotions and sensations have great purpose. You are picking up on energies around you. You are processing trauma. You are becoming attuned to your intuition and empathic power. You are built for this and it's beautiful.
To heal our sensitive, broken hearts we must marshal the courage to feel it all. That's it. We must honor what comes, observe, and allow ourselves the sacred space to fall apart.
We must feel it all to heal.