Last week I got way off track with my schedule for a number of reasons, a big one being that my daughter began another nine week session of online school from home due to COVID-19. My family has been here in this house together for 99% of the past five months, so you’d think more school from home wouldn’t be too big of a deal, but that turns out to be false for me. The fact is, because we are all here together, a change in anyone’s routine means a change in the routine of the entire household in a more profound way than usual.
Add to the mix the fact that I am a highly sensitive person. This is a term I’m only beginning to get used to. I only became aware of high sensitivity being a thing when my daughter exhibited some behavior as a very young child that our pediatrician recognized as potentially due to her being acutely aware of certain physical sensations or emotional undercurrents. The more I’ve learned about high sensitivity, the more I’ve recognized that I, too, am prone to being acutely aware of what’s happening to and around me.
It would have been helpful for me to know this about myself much earlier in life, but since I’m adopted, I didn’t grow up around other highly sensitive people. No one ever made it okay for me to feel all that I felt in the way that I now try to do for my daughter so that she understands her own reactions as well as what she needs to do to best protect her own well being. As a result, it’s much easier for me now to comfort her than it is to accept that I also need comforting sometimes.
Last week was one of those times for me. I always find change difficult; it always takes me a while to settle in to new routines. I’m sensitive to how everyone around me is feeling, so my daughter going through her first week of school from here in our home meant that I was going through it with her in a way. I’m always in a sort of on-hold state during the first week of the school year, but having it play out right in my own kitchen really felt like a lot.
I struggle with knowing from firsthand experience that not everyone will understand or be sympathetic to how I react to certain situations, so I tend to keep my sensitivities to myself, often to my own detriment. Sharing this publicly here is a huge change to how I’ve dealt with this sort of situation in the past. The experience of helping my daughter cope with these kinds of reactions has taught me that the way I’m wired is perfectly fine, that it’s okay for me to take breaks when I need to process something, and that being so sensitive is not a weakness or a failure. It is simply the way I am.
Being able to own this aspect of my personality and to speak about it openly is freeing. It’s another step toward learning how to live an authentic life.