Too Sensitive


I am too sensitive.

At least that’s what everyone tells me. There is always a negative connotation to this that I both understand and resent.

I was not born sensitive (although I was born screaming and apparently didn’t stop for a year … the doctor prescribed morphine for me so I’d sleep and martinis for my mother). Like most overly-sensitive people, I experienced some fairly traumatic life events. It is how I deal with small, everyday adversities–by crying and just wanting to be alone–that frustrates people in my life, I think.  

To say that I was irrevocably damaged by being married to a violent and abusive addict makes sense to people. Rape victim? Sure, that must have been ugly. Parents had a very ugly divorce? Yup, I can see that causing some impact.

But those three things, probably the biggest pains I’ve suffered, are tied up in other things. The reason I married my obviously now-ex-husband is one. My close friend’s reaction to the rape–blame–is another. My dad’s sudden absence and my mom’s treatment of me for a period of time, yet a third.


Ripples that I’m pretty sure go on forever because of the empathy I feel for pretty much everybody. Even when someone does me wrong, I ache for them. I try to see where they are coming from.

My ex-husband’s childhood and early adulthood was like a Jerry Springer episode. He asked for none of that, yet it shaped who he was and who he became. Which in turn explains his addiction issues and his subsequent treatment of me and my children. I can hate him (I do) and be absolutely furious with him (I am), but nobody should have ever experienced the horrible abuse he suffered.

I can understand the monster he became.

My friend assumed that the rape, which happened at his house, was consensual sex. He and I had a history, and he thought that I was disrespecting him or trying to send a passive-aggressive message through hooking up with someone at his house.

I can understand why he felt that way.

Neither of my parents were happy in their marriage. I wish that they had admitted and acted on this before things got way beyond painful. A standard divorce with minimal drama would have been far preferable to what happened. Yet my parents have both been incredibly supportive and loving of me as an adult. I have long ago forgiven them for the pain they caused; yet that pain is still inside me, and it always will be.

I can understand that there was no other way for this to happen, and I appreciate that they spent the vast majority of life after the dust settled as wise, kind, supportive, and loving parents.

Everyone has their own story.

We are all crafted by the lives we live.

I wish I could grow a thicker skin. I wish I could develop self-confidence. I wish I could just not care sometimes. I wish I did not cry when co-workers tell me I’m undermining their authority because I stepped in when a situation with a student I know fairly well was escalating.

Mostly, though, I am glad that I care about other people more than I care about myself. I am glad that I am able to see other people’s perspectives as a means to help me understand their motivations. I am glad that I can honestly say I would give the shirt off my back to a stranger.



TOO sensitive.

At what point is it a problem?

And is there a solution?


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