I discovered living alone (without other humans, that is) when I was 16, and with the exception of brief sojourns with lovers or short-term transitional situations, it has been my lifestyle of choice ever since.
Living with other people was what I turned to when I first struck out on my own because it was what I had always done, but I soon realized the omnipresent relationships placed unmanageable demands on my energy. Sometime in my teens I redefined home as the place I go to get away from people and rest, and that is what it has been ever since.
I rarely invite people in. If I feel social, I go out.
Most of my friendships are situational, the sum of proximity + time. That used to feel inadequate, but perhaps my expectations have evolved as I become a better friend to myself. The differences seem less important. Sometimes, as friendships deepen, I discover there are more similarities than I suspected.
Then too, as my life feels more and more like my path, not someone else’s that I somehow strayed into, I am less afraid to reveal a truer version of myself. If someone doesn’t find value in me, that’s about them, and I am not diminished by it. I no longer feel as if I am on the outside of other peoples’ lives, pining to be admitted.
Close for Comfort
The 17 years I lived with my recently deceased feline companion is the longest I have ever lived with anyone, considerably outstripping the time I spent in my childhood home (homes, really. We moved a lot). Now I am rediscovering what it is to live truly alone, expanding into all the spaces previously dedicated to her use, following my own rhythms, answering my own imperatives.
And hearing myself think. This could be double-edged, if ultimately healthier. Did I comfort myself with purrs and fur in the face of disturbing thoughts, instead of finding solutions?
We shall see.
Closing the Sale
A headline caught my eye yesterday — what employers value most in potential employees is warmth and competence. “Oho,” thought I. “That’s why I’ve always interviewed so well.”
Like many of my other HSP qualities, warmth is so natural to me, I wasn’t really conscious of it. When employers hired me for my ability to connect with people, I was surprised, and skeptical that I had what they saw.
But when they wanted to wield that ability like a tool, shaping and manipulating customers with it, turning it on and off, I realized they were right, and more. My connections were genuine, therefore I had to honor them, regardless of the interests of my employers. In my HSP sensibility, this was all of a piece. Employers were not so happy about that. No, they did not like that at all.
However, their opportunism made visible to me what I had to offer, and how I wanted to offer it. The authenticity of the connections I make with people is fully realized at last in my relationships with my own clients.
Close to Heart
But these are business relationships, cordial, yet circumscribed. I can’t imagine how HSPs successfully navigate intimate relationships. Literally cannot. Nary a stillshot in my otherwise hyper-envisionary mind.
It’s not news to me that relationships are one of my remedial areas in life. Or to put that less judgmentally, are highly challenging. I have become more conscious of my fear of letting someone else too close to the center of my self. It’s well-founded, emotionally speaking, in a harrowing history.
I recognized many years back that I was consistently attracted to the wrong people, and stopped dating. I haven’t missed it much. I realize I have sidestepped an issue rather than resolving it, but that’s the right solution at the moment. Now is not the time, and perhaps this life is not the life, and that’s OK. I have to trust myself before I can trust somebody else.
My mental life verbalizes its way through adjustment to change. Grief happens more subliminally, below words. And maybe, though analysis has its value, its furious activity is also a refuge from pain which I can only endure in brief bursts.
For all of my words, it is sometimes music that anchors me in a crisis, providing, seemingly at random, a song to characterize this unique passage of my life, and carry me through the tsunami of feeling to peace. This time, a single line from long ago surfaced to guide me to that song:
Little pebble upon the sand
Now you’re lying here in my hand
How many years have you been here?
Little human upon the sand
From where I’m lying here in your hand
You to me are but a passing breeze
The sun will always shine where you stand
Depending in which land
You may find yourself
Now you have my blessing
Go your way
Happiness runs in a circular motion
Thought is like a little boat upon the sea
Everybody is a part of everything anyway
You can have everything if you let yourself see
Happiness runs, happiness runs
Why? Oh, because
You can have everything if you let yourself be