Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Growing Up Sensitive

by Deb Baker/Hannah Reed

I was overly sensitive as a child. Especially when it came to animals. I wound up with someone else's dose of compassion right along with my own. I cried watching Lassie.  I sobbed during Black Beauty. Call of the Wild (book and movie) practically killed me. Even Flipper could produce tears.

And as I grew up, that aspect of my personality remained the same. Seabiscuit, Fly Away Home, Babe, the list goes on. Whether shedding tears of terror or tears of joy, I can hardly stand all that extra emotion.

And it's embarrassing to be crying during an animated film with my granddaughter next to me.

I take a little comfort from something Anne Lamott wrote in her wonderful book Stitches. "...almost everybody worth his or her salt..had been an overly sensitive child."

I like that. Although...maybe I wasn't "overly" after all. Maybe I was the perfect amount.

And I'm convinced that I'm in good company here at this blog. Am I right?

22 comments:

SueAnn said...

It is called "having heart". We are all born with one. But....from birth, Life has a way of hiding it, burying it, destroying it, hardening it. Keeping "heart", requires strength, and it is not easy. A decision has to be made...to keep heart, or lose heart. from that, comes compassion, and love.
You are not alone in your tears....Emilie Richards last book out, had me in tears..., for about 200 pages.
The hardest part of being sensitive, is knowing when to hold it....like with our kids, in teaching them different life skills. It kills me to have to say "no", or, to ignore a whine...when I know it is a learning moment.....
Be proud you can cry...and feel. So many people have forgotten how.

Leann Sweeney said...

You are absolutely right, Deb. Lots of us out here. I was often embarrassed by my tears in elementary school. Anything could make me cry. But I think a lot of the "overly sensitive" end up being writers! (Oh, and I still cry all the time. Too late to stop now!)

Deb said...

Wow SueAnn, that's powerful stuff you just spoke. Thank you. (sniff, sniff)

Deb said...

Leann, I bet you're right about writers. Readers, too!

mary kennedy said...

A wonderful post, Deb! I was the same way (still am, in fact.) I was probably the only adult in the theater crying when Bambi's mother was killed. I refused to kill insects for a high school biology project--which meant an automatic F for the course. The teacher wouldn't consider an "alternative assignment," and I refused to dissect a frog in a college class. (Another F, there goes my GPA.) And I picketed the circus as a kid because of the horrible treatment of animals. I'm glad that nowadays people are speaking up against these abuses. At the time, I felt quite alone in all this. I'm proud that you, Deb, and all my writer pals, are "sensitive" and love people, animals and the environment. You rock, Deb!! Not just as a writer, but as a person.


Jeannie D. said...

I think all creative people are overly sensitive. Actually, I think we are just right. As cold and cruel as our world can be sometimes, it needs us sensitive people for the world to still have a soul. When I was little, I would cry when a butterfly would get hit by a car. I had a little baby squirrel die, that grew up in my tree a few years ago, he was tiny so I think he was just born with something wrong with him. I had even named him (Peanut). I found him under his tree one morning. I cried for days. So, no you are definatelt not alone.

Lynda said...

I'm with you. I cry at movies, reading books, and some of the stuff on Facebook can bring on a river of tears. But I think it's like others have said - it shows you have heart.

Unfortunately, the task I chose for myself when I retired was rescuing animals, which can just about guarantee tears on a regular basis. I volunteer and foster at the County animal shelter and with a feline rescue group. The fostering usually turns out with happy tears, but, as a volunteer, the things you see from within a shelter environment can tear you apart. But even though we are sensitive, and we feel things more deeply, doesn't mean we avoid situations that evoke those feelings. Our basic sensitivity won't allow it. So we just make sure to always have Kleenix handy and keep on.

Deb said...

Mary, I really wish Bambi's mom hadn't been killed:( (sniff, sniff). And I'm so proud of you for standing up for what you believe!

Deb said...

That's a sad squirrel story, Jeannie. And you're right - the world needs us!

Deb said...

I helped at a wildlife crisis center and also at the local shelter. A few times I went out to capture a wounded animal and later release it back into the wild. That was the best!

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Lovely post, Deb. You sure aren't alone. I like to make sure I have my sunglasses with me, just in case I have to cover the evidence of being too sensitive.

I think you have a highly developed sense of empathy - not "too" anything!

Hugs,

MJ

Deb said...

Thanks, Mary Jane. Happy you are part of this club:)

LD Masterson said...

Bambi, when his mom gets killed. Or the end of Old Yeller. And I went through a whole box of tissues the first time I saw E.T. Isn't it nice that we can enjoy moving stories with our tear ducts?

Lynda said...

That would be a great feeling. I have found and healed a few birds and let them go when they were well. When you can help heal an animal (physically or emotionally) and then see it to a good home (or return it to it's own home) it is a great feeling. It's not always easy to let them go (especially my fosters that I had for a long time), and I shed a few tears when they go. But if I know they are going to a good, forever home, it helps. It's why I do what I do, even when it doesn't always turn out well. We can't save the world, but saving even one life makes a difference.

Vicki said...

My youngest sister was like that. At the drop of a hat she would cry. Oh man would she cry. You had to be very careful how much you teased her, what you let her read or watch. Luckily she doesn't cry quite as easily now but we do "cry rate" books and movies for her even though she is now 42. Grin.

To me one of the oddest things is that when she worked as a photo tech she would cry over hunting pictures (ie pictures of the kill) but she didn't get too upset at pictures of dead people (crime scene pictures.) I knew she had finally evened out when she started feeling sorry for people as well as animals.

Aurian said...

I can so relate to that. Reading about, or hearing about, cruelty to animals makes me sick, animals can't defend themselves to the sick humans who like to torture and abuse them.
I almost always cry over the books I read or the movies I watch, I have been called too empathic as well. Happy tears or sad tears and even angry tears on behalf of someone else.

Deb said...

I loved E.T. (and pretty sure I cried)

Deb said...

It's still animals for me. They are so helpless!

Deb said...

I'm with you on all of that, Aurian!

Barb W. said...

I went to see Mary Poppins by myself when I was about 22. You know the scene at the end? the one where Mr. Burns goes out to fly a kite with his children? I started sobbing uncontrollably. Unfortunately, it was the end of the movie, and when the lights came up, there I was with that crying ugly face!

Deb said...

Barb, you have to see Saving Mr. Banks!

Heather said...

There are certain movies I refuse to go see in the theater. I want to watch them and will at home with my Kleenex box. :) When I was a kid it was Fox and the Hound that was my undoing. Sigh..........Oh and when the showed Where the Red Fern Grows in elementary school, it was not good. But I was just as sad when they showed Glory to us in High School. Oh my and Dances with Wolves..........the straw was when they shot the wolf!