In college I had a girlfriend that reminded me of myself. She overanalyzed, lamented, and chain smoked her way through stressful nights. One day she called me from the basement of her work and through inconsolable tears told me that her boyfriend had broken up with her. She couldn’t face her clients because she couldn’t stop crying long enough to pull herself together. I grabbed some coffee and ran over. There she sat, slouched at a metal table, bawling like a sad little mess. She was right…she couldn’t pull herself together regardless of how long we talked. I returned to work and an hour later she called me in tears. She had gone to Tim Horton’s to buy coffee for herself and her staff and as she rounded the corner with her tray of coffee, a man plowed into her, smashed the coffees into her chest soaking her shirt and then they fell and exploded as they hit the ground. It was the tipping point. As the man stood in shock asking if he could replace her coffee, she collapsed to the ground in a pile of tears unable to cope with anything else. She just sat there crying until she ran out of tears, oblivious to anyone around her.
This is a person that feels to much. She is one of them. I am one of them.
I’m sure we all have a story like this – a story that seems natural to you as the one that experienced it but if someone else heard it, might shine a little light on how extreme it is. I heard another story of a woman that was so tired of feeling things so strongly that she decided that she was going to sleep until she woke up not feeling anything. Every time she opened her eyes and a wave of sadness would come back, she would pop a Gravol and go back to sleep. Yikes!!! (I don’t know if it worked or not). I know another man that got really drunk at a baseball tournament and when we found him throwing up in the bush (we thought it was a bear), he cried, ‘I just want to drink until I don’t feel feelings. I’m tired of feeling feelings!”
As I type out these examples I’m not sure if the theme of this story should be more focused on coping skills (or lack thereof) but I suppose coping skills and extreme feelings are intertwined. I talked to someone once about my fear that my extreme feelings were abnormal and that I wanted to find a way to desensitize myself. She said to me, “The world needs people like you, just like it needs people that feel on an even keel, and people that don’t feel at all. Together you create balance.”
Have you ever had one of those days where you wish you were one of the people that felt things ‘normally’ or not at all? Some days the extremity of my feelings is exhausting and I would give anything to be the kind of person that thinks, “Meh, whatever!” or “It will all work out” or “Life goes on!”, and just carry on with my day stress free and ignorant of any responsibility towards the outcome of a situation. Some days it sounds like bliss – but some days I am not so sure that it would be the best thing for me.
What if you were a person that didn’t read too much into things? What if you had trouble feeling? What if your partner expressed to you how sad and alone they felt in the relationship and told you they were thinking of leaving you or were in fact leaving you and your reaction was, “Hmmm, okay, best of luck”, and you just moved on without even bothering to understand your part in it? Holy shit! What’s that like? Or, what if you spent an entire day outdoors hiking a mountain and finally reached the summit and didn’t take the time to enjoy the view over a lunch up top and to feel the fresh air drying each droplet of sweat on your face? What if you were in the dark woods on a winter night and didn’t soak in the silence and the feeling of the snowflakes melting on your face? Would the experiences be the same if you didn’t take time to feel them? Would they be just as meaningful? I wouldn’t know.
My sister once said to me, “Make sure that when you decide to get married, you marry a man that loves you more than you love him. You want to be the one that feels less, not more.” I didn’t understand her reasoning – I couldn’t even fathom it! Why would people even get married if they didn’t love each other equally? Then, as I aged and gained more experience, I learned that the one that loves more is always at the mercy of the one that loves less. The one that loves less puts in less effort. The one that loves less doesn’t fear loss. The one that loves less doesn’t worry because the one that loves more has all of the worry covered. For all of these reasons, the one that loves less feels safe because without a life of worry and intense feelings, they are content.
This is a person that feels too little – or just enough. I am not one of them.
I suppose the world does need all kinds of people to create balance. Because I am a person that feels too much, I find it hard to understand people that don’t feel as strongly about things as I do – but I still do envy them every once in a while. And I am sure people that don’t feel anywhere near as strongly as I do about things have a hard time understanding where I am coming from half of the time – and that makes perfect sense as well.
Feelings are a balancing act. Life is a balancing act. I suppose we just have to do our best on the tight rope and pay equal honor to the importance of the safety net.