The GIF above demonstrates my internal feeling state. I’ve always just assumed that this is how I’ll always be, that it’s as persistent as a personality trait. But lately I’ve been questioning that belief.
“Highly sensitive” is one way to describe this phenomenon. Empathic is another. Yet another is emotional overexcitability.
Overexcitabilities (OEs) are inborn, heightened abilities to receive and respond to stimuli. They are expressed in increased sensitivity, awareness, and intensity. Each form of overexcitability points to a higher than average sensitivity of its receptors.
And I need to take a little side trip here: when it comes to hearing the term “gifted,” most people are familiar with the intellectual OE. But there are four others: emotional, imaginational, psychomotor, and sensual.
This is how Lind describes emotional overexcitability:
Emotional OE is […] is reflected in heightened, intense feelings, extremes of complex emotions, identification with others’ feelings, and strong affective expression (Piechowski, 1991). […] Emotionally overexcitable people have a remarkable capacity for deep relationships; they show strong emotional attachments to people, places, and things (Dabrowski & Piechowski, 1977). They have compassion, empathy, and sensitivity in relationships. This sensitivity may lead to interpersonal conflict about the depth, or lack of depth, in a relationship.
Astrological sidenote: Astrologically, I can explain the phenomenon of being emotional overexcitability as having a full moon in Cancer conjoined with a Jupiter retrograde in Cancer. Big, internalized feels.
The moon represents our emotions and our core, primal needs. Jupiter is an expansive planet, which can also pertain to big ideas (see: religion and philosophy). But for the sake of this post, consider it as an intensifier or expander.
The moon rules Cancer, and the moon transits through each sign every 2.5 days or so. So if you want to understand why your Cancer friends are moody, they’re experiencing personality shifts (of sorts), 12 times every month!
A full moon in Cancer is probably as moony as you could get, with maybe full moon in Taurus could be more, since the moon is exalted, or an honored guest, in Taurus.
I haven’t really felt like I could control how I feel about certain things, or for how long. Cancerian folks are known to remember everything, and that includes hurts and slights. But it also can be the more pleasant experiences in life.
But the holding onto hurts, frankly, has gotten annoying in my older age. There’s only so much brain space and heart space that I have. I don’t want to hold onto to old, dead things that cannot be revived or changed.
Although this month has brought a lot of inner peace and stability, even though my circumstances are still unstable, I haven’t wanted to go along for the ride anymore.
I’ve been playing this game online with others, and I kinda got thrown under the bus because I refused to do something stupid – even though everyone was asking me to do it. I watched as this dude was talking to these other people who were not a part of our group about me, but not by name.
That did piss me off and I vented to a friend about it. He wanted me to talk to the group about it. I’m probably going to leave because it’s a bit of an unorganized shitshow, but I was so annoyed earlier that I was dreaming about it.
I wanted to play a game to have fun, not dream about the terrible group dynamics.
I cared too much.
So instead of confront thing guy talk shit to virtual stranges, I decided to just at vent for a limited amount of time because I was really heated. I really like winning.
At the same time, I could have left after this incident, but I feel intensely loyal. Yet it hasn’t even been two weeks – which is a great reason to leave, actually.
That was three days ago. Now I feel alright. I’m still on the fence about leaving, but I’m not dreaming about the gameplay or seething in anger. By the end of the that day, I was fine. And that choice – to vent for a little bit and then leave it alone – never seemed possible to me before until recently.
Another moment that took me off guard was seeing social media updates from a few friends about romantic relationships that I had no idea about or that I barely knew about and still didn’t know about.
There was an initial pang of sadness that I didn’t know, but then it melted into resolve, into that newer aphorism of “whatever is meant for you will not pass you by.”
The sadness comes from being closer once upon a time and now knowing that I was primarily close to these people because I continuously reached out. And that is exhausting.
Cancer moon folks really love to nurture and to serve, and I overextended that part of myself, not just with these people, but with everyone. And although I really love to serve, I do deserve to get as good as I give.
It does really suck that I’m not as close as I want to be with these folks, but at the same time, no one is really reaching out to me. But life goes on and the spaces that have become open can be filled with folks who do reach out, people I don’t have to be so open so soon with.
Before, seeing those updates would have rolled me into a major avalanche of sorrow and shame. It wasn’t even that I’m still single and they’re not anymore – thank goodness, because that’s another level of hell I need to spare myself from. It was just that the connection had faded from something strong and steady to practically non-existent.
But for the most part, I was the one carrying the current, ensuring that the line stayed open. Now, that energy that was moving towards them can return back to me.
Strong emotional attachments to people…it’s a heavy torch to carry, and I have never questioned that it was the right thing to do until last year. The way I was reacting to how awful 2018 was for me, it was making things worse, in a way that made life intolerable to live.
Taking a long social media break was the hard reset I needed. I needed to face, and embrace, that most people are never going to care about me as much or as deeply as I care about them. That still stings, to admit that to myself and to you mostly anonymous but valued readers. But it’s the truth, a truth that comes with choices.
So if most people aren’t going to care that much, if at all, then I get to choose who I give all this caring to.
Some longtime mutual follower on Twitter unfollowed me this week and I was faced with a choice. Am I going to wallow in self-introspection, wondering which tweet of mine pissed her off enough to unfollow? Or am I just going to unfollow back, feel a little sad about it, and move on? I chose option #2.
I can’t just say, “it’s just social media” or “it’s just the internet”. There are real people who are at the end of these pixels, people with real feelings and desires. The internet is a powerful way to connect with people just like you.
As I was trying to explain two posts ago, I know that I’ve tried to make everyone close to me. It’s not a bug, though – it’s a feature of someone whose moon is in her 7th house of partnership.
But I don’t have to apply this feature to every single person I find likable.
With the people who have gone last year, you may be wondering why I’m not trying to reconnect with anyone. I know from reading MWF Seeking BFF that friendship does involve a lot of initiating, which is something that comes and goes with me.
But with all the people who have faded or disappeared, I was a different person choosing then. In 2018, I could see myself catch up to the changes I had wanted to make in myself. And that could be why a lot of people left. Transition does that, causes relationships to shift or just plain ol’ die.
So ultimately, it all comes down to what I value in myself and in others. If I value myself, then I value my feelings, as broad and plenteous as they are.
But I don’t have to be swamped by my feelings. I can choose to engage in the swirling eddies, and I can jump out when it becomes too much.
In her article, Lind goes on to say that folks with emotional OEs need to accept all feelings as is, regardless of intensity. And that’s something that society has been trying to force me not to do since I’ve been alive.
And I’ve been helping in that effort to suppress my feelings. I’ve been biting my tongue. I’ve been holding space. I’ve been over-intuiting. I’ve been “anticipating needs”.
I’ve been bloody miserable.
It’s hard to interrupt automatic processes until something or someone else does. For me, it was the hellscape that was 2018. The way I was coping, self-berating which lead into abject hopelessness…well, if I was actually interested in living, this was not a way to live.
I made a lot of things that weren’t really about me about me.
And now that 2018 is over, and I’ve made a real concerted effort to not take 2018 with me into this year, I have more of a bird’s-eye view of my life. And that view gives me a better sense of control over how I see it. Being immersed in the everyday highs and lows can feel overwhelming.
But really, a lot of this stuff just isn’t that serious. And that’s a welcomed relief.
I don’t have to keep reacting in the same ways to the same people. But it can be so hard to break lifelong patterns. There’s a comfort in the ordinary lives we make for ourselves, even if they’re seeping with things we don’t necessarily need or even like.
I know, trust, and believe that the people who have left are not the only ones in the world for me to know and love. There are people who aren’t going to be weirded out by my emotional intensity, people who, in fact, love and will revel in it.
I don’t have to be so desperate. I don’t have to seek my ultimate security within relationships, even my natal chart is like…um, yeah, girl, that’s how you roll. I feel like I’ve been able to seek it within, more and more.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t been wanting to be a part of something close. I honor those pangs of longing, but I don’t have them dictate my identity anymore. I just let them inform me as to what I’m valuing at the time.
I’ve been choosing poorly because I haven’t valued my journey enough, and a lot of it is marked by abandonment.
I’ve been revisiting a book on recovering from abandonment, and it’s not that even feel that abandoned anymore…but I have in the past, and I want to lick this wound so I don’t make bad choices in the future. If you’ve ever had a bad breakup you can’t seem to get over, then I highly recommend that book and any others by Susan Anderson.
One thing the book talks about is how feelings of abandonment aren’t meant to be feared, even though they are at the core of all of us. We can better handle when people unexpectedly leave us. We don’t have to haunt the graveyards of our past relationships forever. We can return to the land of the living.
I’m still on my The Divine Comedy kick, and this song, “Love What You Do” has become a bit of an anthem. The band/Neil Hannon doesn’t usually sounds like this
(but I tell you, that look he has circa 2001 is still somehow the aesthetic I prefer! 🤣). It’s a lot more orchestral and lush. He’d be a great lounge singer, and I mean that with all respect and affection.
Musical sidenote: This sound is Nigel Godrich’s doing, the famous producer who has worked with Radiohead and Thom Yorke’s solo work. And if this sounds like Kid A and Amnesiac, then you have a good ear, because this album, Regeneration, was created right after those two.
Fangirling for foreign boys and the lovely bass groove of the song aside, it’s the lyrics that stick with me.
Hannon can get very clever and literary with his lyrics (e.g., he has one song just listing out a bunch of authors). But this is pretty straightforward, maybe even too straightforward for his arch lyrical style:
If you want it, you can have it
If you need it, go and get it
Whatever it is you’ve got to love it
That’s the chorus. The song is basically like: live your life, don’t let yourself get in your own way, and don’t settle for shit that you don’t love.
It’s interesting how strangers can sometimes give us permission do to the things we need to do, like live a life that isn’t steeped in misery and heartache. Like wow, there’s a different choice I can make here.
This song somehow became a permission slip to embrace the beautiful parts of life, however brief – and that includes feeling good and thinking about the people who allow me to be my full, “too much”, loquacious, overly sensitive, multi-faceted self.
And, I don’t need to wait to be open to the good and to express those feelings. I don’t have to keep fixing myself to be acceptable.
So what do I want and need? To let go. I choose to hope for things to get better – however cautiously I’m doing that right now.
I want and need to let these intense feelings rise, crest, and fall. I choose to not let the feelings carve into me like some sort of wearying tidal emotional erosion.
I want and need to be separate from my feelings, for these messengers to not be little tyrants I try to stuff down and hide, controlling me from the inside.
Even more so, despite that I’ve had to separate myself from mostly everyone (and vice versa), I want and need the right people to be around me. And I don’t have to try to contort myself to be overly accommodating, patient, and sometimes obsequious. I can be patient with myself, with the unfolding of ourselves.
I can look at being alone and be content while still desiring community and a partner that finds all of this ever so charming, not something to be withstood or tolerated.
Separation and loss and isolation: all of that can still feel bad and at sometimes excruciating, but that doesn’t have to be my complete story, as it has been for the past few years.
I want and need to lay down the resentment, shame, and bitterness of this decade, of this life. And based on how I feel right now, it looks like I’ve gotten closer to getting those wants and needs met.
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