“And if you hurt me
That’s OK, baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages you just hold me
And I won’t ever let you go
Wait for me to come home…”
Ed Sheehan, Photohtaph
“Will you hold my hand?” he said.
It was our anniversary, and we had a fight.
We don’t get many date nights since we entered the world of parenthood, so I had been looking forward to our night out. But it didn’t go as I envisioned, and our dinner was soon filled with frustration.
I told him I was ready to go home. We got the check and walked outside to hail a cab.
But then he stopped me. He asked to hold my hand and walk for awhile.
I was so tired, and longed for my bed. But I agreed.
And so we walked. Hand in hand. Connected despite our emotional splinters. And from that connection, we found the words to heal the wounds. And our commitment to our unity led us back to each other.
Hand in hand to arm in arm. I closed my eyes and leaned on his shoulder. So thankful for our marriage, for a partner who wants to hold my hand more than a grudge.
“Take as long as you need,” she wrote to me in card. “I will always be here.”
I was in my first year of law school and I had midterms. I was young and broken and constantly allowed myself to drown in overwhelm.
But she was my best friend since high school, and we were emotionally inseparable. Kindred spirits who constantly healed each other’s broken pieces. We seemed to speak the same emotional language and travel on the same electrical current.
And she wanted me to know, that despite my overwhelm, she would be there when I came up for air. Her gentle stability cradling me as I walked forward into my stress and chaos.
“Miss me” she said to me months later over the phone. It was early September, I was starting a new school year and had a brief due, and she was busy with her finance work. We weren’t going to speak for a few days and for some reason we were both in tears. A few days just felt too long. It seemed so silly in that moment.
“I will,” I promised. Never imagining that those would be the last words we would ever share. Her life stolen from this earth just a few days later.
But to me, her love is always here, just as she promised. Constantly reminding me of what friendship can feel like. A feeling that shapes the sisterhoods I hold today.
“I will always protect you,” I told my three-year-old the other night in bed.
I was just starting to teach her the dangers of talking to strangers. She was asking so many questions, and I was trying to choose my words carefully.
“If someone ever tries to make me go with them mama, I will always stand behind you.” And with her innocent words, I knew just how strongly I would always fight for her. For her safety, for her well being, for her self-acceptance, for her voice and power.
I wasn’t sure I ever wanted children. I had wounds to heal and was afraid of having that much influence over a child’s life.
But as my daughters grow, I see how powerful my sensitive heart is. How it both cradles and empowers them.
Just as my husband’s stability and commitment cradles and empowers our love and our home. And how my friend’s gentle words constantly cradled and empowered my spirit when it was at it’s most broken.
I thrive in gentle relationships. Whether there are disagreements or scary issues to address, my sensitive cells flow peacefully.
In my younger years, I had a harder time. I always felt like the sensitive “misfit” of my family. Very well intentioned people, I just came with a different blueprint, which always presented challenges for me and for them. From the comments I receive from readers, I know many sensitive souls experience struggles of this sort. And that can come with a lot of pain and misunderstanding.
Relationships can feel hard, intimidating and unstable. Emotionally draining.
To a sensitive soul it can feel like love is harsh and vulnerability is a liability. You might long for love that holds you in peace and stability. Love that cradles when you’re at your worst, and empowers when you’re ready to fly.
If you struggle as a sensitive soul with feeling misunderstood by your family or feeling like your values simply don’t match theirs, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. People love differently.
Being born into a family doesn’t mean your souls will share the same values. The younger you are, the harder it is to understand that. How each person finds peace with that is a unique journey but you cannot force others to love the way you want them to love, just as they cannot force you to do the same. You cannot make someone adopt your blueprint for love.
Relationships are hard and part of learning how to manage them is learning how to adapt to or set boundaries with those in your life who simply love differently than you do – whether right or wrong, good or bad, it’s different.
2. Your reactions determine everything.
If you’re sensitive, you likely have very high standards for words and tone that others in your family may not share. But you may also struggle with being overly reactive, especially when you’re worn down by external factors. After all, your emotions are strong, your triggers are sharp and you deplete easily. I used to be so reactive to every relationship I struggled with, and quite frankly, those reactions never got me anywhere.
“A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.” Rita Mae Brown
Stay in control of who you are and who you strive to be. Don’t let your triggers determine your behavior. Choose your responses carefully, instead of allowing emotional reactions to steal the best of you.
3. You must do the work.
The harder your relationships were, the more work you’ll need to do to understand those struggles and, if necessary, heal your spirit. It’s life work we must all do, with no completion date. But slowly but surely, with each story you share, each book you read, each new relationship you nourish, you can heal any bits of yourself that got scrambled up in someone else’s story.
Trying to ignore any pain from your past will only make you enter relationships with the same mismatched values. Do the work to learn who you are and what you need to thrive in your relationships.
4. Tough relationships have great value.
The fastest way to learn what you want is to experience the opposite. Some relationships, family or otherwise, just won’t work out. Some will remain but require strong boundaries. Some will stay as they are with large amounts of acceptance for each other’s differences. I was once in a terrible relationship with a man, but I’m grateful for it, as it taught me so many lessons on love. Lessons that led me to my husband.
All of the struggles you experience create a set of ideals. Ideals that are unique to you that you can then carry forward into new relationships. Ideals you never would have valued so strongly if you hadn’t experienced what it’s like to live and love without them.
5. You have power over all of your relationships.
You have power over the relationships you were born into through the boundaries you set. And you have power over each new relationship you create because you get to choose who’s in your life, and there’s such magic to that. You can create an entire family of people who love in ways that flow beautifully with your unique love blueprint.
My husband and I could not be more different, but the way we love fits together perfectly. Trust in your ideals and they will lead you forward towards those who share them.
6. You can give the love you long for.
When you’re born into a family, you don’t get to choose how you’re loved. And that can be hard if your souls feel like a complete mismatch. But as a sensitive soul, learning about love is a likely a strong suit of yours. And you can apply all that you learn to the relationships you create for yourself.
As I raise my daughters my biggest hope is not that they succeed in ways I’ve predetermined for them. My hope is that I give them the kind of love that both cradles and empowers them so that they live wholeheartedly as their fullest selves.
And so they always know that in our home they are free to be exactly who they are. At their very best or their very worst, they can come exactly as they are, never needing to prove or change themselves to be worthy of my love.
7. We are all just learning about love.
I used to think the value of life was measured by how successful you are and what your accomplishments or degrees are. But the more I learn about life, the more I think we are all here to learn about love. To learn how to love, how to heal from love, how to love again, how to love in ways that empower, and ultimately, how to love ourselves and others better.
We are all on our unique journey through and towards love, and each member of our families is on theirs. You can love them, and all of the other relationships you create, in unique ways.
And when you find the relationships that put your soul at ease, that fit your unique blueprint, hold on to them. Through the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, let them come exactly as they are. And watch as those relationships cradle and empower you, gently walking you to your destined home.
“Loving can heal
Loving can mend your soul
And it’s the only thing that I know”
May you always feel held, worthy, loved, cradled and empowered by the relationships you cherish. xx
Overcoming Cruel Words Cheat Sheet
Never allow cruel, belittling or condescending words to steal your self-esteem again. Use this cheat sheet to quickly heal and turn those words into something empowering.