It happened again, that thing I hate so much. In less than 5 seconds, I went from feeling okay to feeling like I was in middle school and that my feelings didn’t matter. It took me by surprise. With no chance to prepare myself, I couldn’t mask my emotions quick enough. I didn’t want to be frustrated and sad and certainly didn’t want my unwanted feelings leaking out my eyes for others to see.
Being sensitive can stink. The down-side to being hyper-aware of feelings is that it’s hard to act normal when your own feelings are enormous. I despise that certain things cause me to feel small. Those same things aren’t even noticed by others, but for me, it’s like a gigantic neon sign. I can’t not see it as much as I wish I could.
And can I just say that feelings are stupid? They don’t listen to reason easily. It takes a lot of practice to talk the big feelings down off the ledge. I know this about myself. I try to talk myself through it. I tell myself that I’ll feel better after a good night of sleep and a chance to process it all. 90% of the time, that’s what happens. A quick retreat from the situation is what I need. Don’t engage. Just step back and breathe and pray. I get all my messy, unfiltered and irrational first-draft responses out with my husband.
That quick retreat is integral to my emergency exit plan. That’s the safest way. I’ve learned the hard way that removing myself from the situation while keeping my mouth shut is my best shot at averting a disaster. Recently, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, I ended up in the least safe place. A place where there is no getting out without being vulnerable in a situation I knew wasn’t safe.
I put on my bravest face and opened up. It was my Charlie Brown moment. I backed up and took a run at the football, knowing that Lucy would probably pull it away at the last minute, but hoping she wouldn’t. I needed some empathy, but Lucy did what she always does and I ended up flat on my back.
I can’t think of worse place for a sensitive person than an unsafe environment where they are forced to be vulnerable. After the dust settled, I did what any over-thinker/over-feeler writer does. It was time for a post-mortem. I took apart all the pieces and untangled the parts that I needed to take ownership of from the ones I needed to leave alone.
This is what I discovered.
I need to own my feelings and realize that sometimes my hurt feelings are coming because of the way I view life and not because anyone else has done anything wrong. Most of the “Lucy’s” in my life are fabulous and if I end up in a situation with them where I feel hurt, it was an innocent thing that will probably never happen again and if I told them how I was feeling they would empathize.
Sometimes, after evaluating a situation, I come to the honest conclusion that this “Lucy” is a nice person, but she’s going to continue to move the football time and time again. She can’t help herself. It might be something about her personality or a way about her. She’s a fabulous friend to many people. I’m just not one of them. Our interactions leave me feeling drained.
It’s my job to figure out which Lucy I’m dealing with. In either scenario, I can only work on my own response. Am I dealing with “Lucy #1” or “Lucy #2”? If I’m dealing with “Lucy #2”, the right decision is to stop playing football with her. Forgive her (possibly without her knowing I was ever struggling) and create some distance. Doing this gracefully is hard.
Both Lucy’s need grace and forgiveness. I know because I’ve been her. I’ve been the friend who has done and said insensitive things I wish I could take back. If I want someone to be willing to accept my hurt feelings as valid without defending themselves, I need to offer that kind of friendship in return.
“Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.” – William Shakespeare
Friendships are hard, right? Have you had any Charlie Brown moments with friends? How did you deal with it? I’d love to hear your experiences.