An open letter

Dear family,

I do hope you know I love you, no matter what. You are the reason I am who I am today. I cannot imagine my life without you, and I can no longer see the road not taken; it’s that far behind me now. But there’s something you should know about me.

As an emotionally intense gifted adult, you all wear me the heck out. Emotional intensity is soul-suckingly exhausting. It’s one thing when you’re trying to manage your own intensity, but when you feel the emotions of everyone around you as I do, it’s doubly so. And when I can feel how you feel about me? Enhanced by a measure of infinity. I can feel your love, I can feel your pride, I can feel your disappointment, I can feel your frustration. Do not think it is hidden from me; I wish it was. It is strong, it is real, and it is felt. And sometimes, it hurts.

When I want to run and hide, it is not always because I want to be alone, though as an introvert, that may be the case. I may just want to be away from the emotions that vibrate off your very being. I can feel your good days and bad. I know before we speak how you are feeling. When your life force comes pouring into the home that I strive to be a safe place for you, it targets me and knocks me askew. I feel it from behind closed doors and try as I might, I cannot stop feeling it.

Please do not take offense at this. I cannot change myself and I’m tired of trying. I’m tired of staying awake late into the quiet night attempting to detox others’ emotions out so I can sleep. I’m tired of waking in the morning, knowing only that the first thing in my day is the grumpy irritation of young boys being roused from their beds. I’m tired of mollifying the emotionally intense twice-exceptional tween I’m homeschooling. And I’m tired of doing doing doing all day long, with very little being in there.

So, my sweet family, now you know. I can read you like a large-print book. You may think it’s an invasion of privacy; I think it’s an invasion of my soul. I cannot turn it off. I can see you and read you and feel you, and there’s not much any of us can do about it. Don’t think it’s just you, however. I can see and read and feel most people and it is exhausting. Comes in handy for some social situations, but for the most part it is not a whole lot of fun.

With that, my loves, I go on. There is nothing else I can do. You are my life and my loves and I have nothing without you. I just ask…beg…that you give me a tiny bit more space. To think, to breathe, to feel. I promise it will make me a better mom, a better wife, a better person. And a little more of the pride and love my way, instead of disappointment and frustration, would do wonders as well.

Love to all of you,

Jen

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11 thoughts on “An open letter

  1. Yes. That. I miss sleep.

  2. I am sensitive and empathic and can relate to that level of intuition *and* I no longer ask for the time I need, I take it. Care yourself and care others so that the bi-directional dynamic is a sustainable one. Free yourself from thinking about the noise of others as something that is being done TO you, you are strong and can create healthy dynamics with the people in your life. Relate to the dynamic as a designer, and in time you will come to know your power.

    • I absolutely agree with you, 100%. And then I get into the thick of things, and I yet again put myself last. I do not think that plan is sustainable much longer.

  3. Excellent, and well-put.

  4. As always, thanks Jen for your heartfelt candour. I *really* (really, really) hear you. Sometimes your blog helps keep me (some sort of) sane, just knowing I’m not the only one trying my hardest to raise an incredibly bright, intense and sensitive kid.

  5. Thank you for speaking from my soul – I feel relieved to know that when It all feels crazy – I’m not alone! ;-)

  6. Thank you Jen for writing this. Although I do not have children, my existence is this experience in which you describe. Absorbing the emotions of every being we come in contact with in addition to experiencing the intensity of our own emotions is exhausting. Hearing someone express this uncommon ability gives me great relief in knowing there are others out there that understand. I applaud your transparency and your model of self-care that is so detrimental to our nature. Thank you

    • I love going out with my family, to events out in the city. Museums, shows, things like that. It’s just wearying, as I’m not able to recoup as I’d like once we’re home, as I need to tend to the things that need tending.

  7. I was woken this morning by an intense child in an out-of-control situation with his hold-everything-in brother. I tried to work with both of them and eventually fined one fifty cents and gave up. Four hours later I exploded at both of them and realized I’d been tense ever since. I can sometimes deal with their emotions and not internalize it so badly, but if it happens before I’m fully awake, I just can’t. I know this about myself and I haven’t gotten any better at dealing with it.

    • I’ve been suffering from random insomnia. The days after the nights I lie staring at the ceiling for hours on end I am a total bitch. Like…today. I don’t feel irritated or mean, but my patience is less than zero and I don’t realize it until I respond to something. My poor family.

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