Okay little Thoughts, stay here and play for a while. Have fun and don’t hurt each other. You’ve all been cooped up in my brain far too long. Brainy needs a good airing!
My brain sometimes (meaning often) doesn’t put puzzle pieces together as soon as they are presented. Brainy likes to take puzzle pieces and place them in ridiculous patterns before taking the time to put them together properly.
Donut (my next-door neighbor – the maternal hillbilly) was just outside calling Taco, her dog. I’m used to this now, but it still sounds rather funny because it sounds as if she’s beckoning a Tex-Mex menu item.
When Donut steps outside to call Taco in, Brainy likes to imagine a little four-legged fully loaded taco bounding across the yard enthusiastically to greet its human.
Today Donut was upset because Taco wasn’t responding to her calls, but finally Taco came running and Donut greeted the happy little dog by screaming, “Stupid Taco!”
Brainy first pictured a fully loaded taco wearing a dunce’s hat and sent the message down to my larynx and lungs to respond with laughter.
Then Brainy pictured a sad little taco dunce and sent the southbound message to stop laughing.
Then Brainy arranged the puzzle pieces in their proper order, remembering that Taco is an actual dog – a soul, with feelings – and sent a message down below to activate the tear ducts.
Occasionally my hillbilly neighbors provide ridiculous humor, but more often than not, they are loud, obnoxious and verbally abusive toward each other and their pets.
~ ~ ~
Credit to Leah Flores for the “Sad Taco” image used as the featured image for this post.
Leah Flores is a Boise-based artist who brings together her love of photography and illustration to create adventuresome designs. Born in the Pacific Northwest on Leap Year Day 1988, Leah is a first-generation American with Costa Rican and Scottish roots. In her work you will find mountains, forests, and wildflowers woven with hand-lettered evocations to go explore the natural world.
The year must have been about 1973. I was four years old but would be turning five later in the year. It was a beautiful spring day and Mom was making sure my brother (Scott) and I were ready for church before she left us to our own devices so she could get herself ready.
Scott looked snazzy in his little Sunday suit but I, of course, was in a dress. I much preferred wearing Scott’s hand-me-down overalls but that was not proper Sunday School attire. I didn’t like wearing dresses but had not yet grown to utterly despise them. I hadn’t quite reached the age when I was expected to behave differently when wearing a dress. I was still young enough that I was allowed to be a kid rather than a proper young lady.
Scott and I had been told to wait for Mom on the front porch as she finished getting ready. I was told, specifically, not to leave the porch, touch anything or get dirty.
Mom used to call me her “Bold One”. The term was part of an advertising campaign for Bold laundry detergent back in the 70s, which was advertised to be so powerful it would even perfectly clean the clothes worn by your “bold one”. Mom used to claim I could go out perfectly clean, stand in one spot for fifteen minutes and come back filthy … and that’s what happened on this particular morning.
When Mom came out to take us to church, I had dirt on my face and dress, so in Mom took me to wipe off the dirt and put me in a clean dress.
We were a few minutes late to the Sunday service but quietly found a spot at the end of one pew and were seated. Scott sat on Mom’s left and I, to her right.
I pulled out my coloring book and crayons and proceeded to do my thing. As far as I was concerned at that age, church was the place where I went once a week to participate in structured coloring while wearing a dress and listening to monotone men speak. I use the word “structured” because this was not a normal coloring session. I had to listen for Mom’s cues to stop coloring and bow my head whenever a prayer was said. This little game always ended with all the members of the congregation saying “amen”. I would yell out the word with gusto before resuming my coloring.
I was busy coloring a masterpiece when Mom tapped my arm. I obediently put down my crayon and bowed my head waiting for the prayer, but there was no prayer. Then Mom tapped my arm again. I looked up at her wondering what had gone wrong with the prayer. She pointed to another row of pews, over to our left, and said, “Why don’t you go sit with her?”
Mom was pointing to a woman in her 30s who had just limped in carrying a cane and found an empty seat at the end of a pew. The other occupants of the pew gradually got up and found other seats, leaving her with the entire pew to herself.
I was upset that Mom wanted me to leave her and sit with a stranger. Strangers scared me!
Mom had warned Scott and me of strangers on numerous occasions and with me being a highly sensitive and perhaps more than slightly neurotic child, my fear was ten-fold. Mom had only wanted to instill a healthy fear within us, but I had the tendency to magnify all dangers to equate them with death.
Mom urged me again to go sit with the lady and appealed to my emotions.
“Look … she’s sad. She’s sitting all by herself. Nobody wants to sit with her.”
I had no idea at the age of four that the reason nobody wanted to sit with her was because of the color of her skin. I don’t think I even knew at that age that some people weren’t accepted based on their skin color. As far as I was concerned the world was made up of adults and children – some were boys and some were girls.
I had never before seen this woman in our congregation. In fact, I had never before seen any black person in our congregation, but that wasn’t even an issue to my four-year-old self. My only issue was that Mom was sending me to sit with a stranger, but her attempt to appeal to my emotions worked. I was still terrified to sit with the lady, but at the same time I felt sorry for her because nobody else wanted to sit with her.
Mom had given me specific instructions not to tell the lady I had been given orders to sit with her. Instead I was to politely ask if she minded that I sit with her. So I took my crayons and coloring book with me, walked over to where the lady was sitting and asked if it would be okay if I sat with her and colored.
The brown-skinned lady beamed, reached out and put her arms around me and sat me next to her while complimenting my excellent coloring skills.
I was delighted!
Mom had never been so proud of my art work as was this woman! In gratitude I tore out the page and told my new friend she could put my masterpiece on her refrigerator, which she agreed to do.
My new friend then raised a finger to her lips to make the sign to ‘Shhh!’ or ‘don’t say a word’, then she opened her purse and pulled out a small stash of candy. We each had several pieces as she draped her arm around me and cuddled me close.
I felt like the luckiest person in the world that day! I met a grown adult who raved about my excellent coloring skills, was thrilled to have a piece of my art work, gave me candy and held me so tight I felt like I was the most important person on planet Earth.
I don’t remember the woman’s name but I do recall seeing her many times after that day. She was baptized and became a member of the church. Sometimes, when she didn’t have a ride home, we would take her home to a place that reminded me of something out of “The Jetsons”. She called her huge futuristic home “the projects”. I thought she was rich and was proud to know someone who lived in the projects. I was equally as proud that a piece of my art work was displayed in the projects.
I sat with her a few more Sundays after her first visit. She always greeted me with enthusiasm, shared her candy and held me close to her. Gradually, over time, people stopped getting up and moving when she came to church. She made a few friends and several members would take turns making sure she had a ride to and from church.
One Sunday I sat scanning the chapel for her. I finally spotted her and asked Mom if I could go sit with her. Mom looked in the direction where she was seated and noticed that she no longer had to sit alone. She turned back around, smiled and said, “No, she’s okay. You stay here with us.”
I didn’t understand what she meant by “she’s okay”. I just wanted to sit with my friend and eat candy. I hadn’t realized she hadn’t been okay before.
Why nobody wanted to sit with her those first few times was beyond my comprehension. It wasn’t until a few years later, during a conversation with Mom, that I realized what had happened that Sunday morning.
“Do you remember that time when I was little and we went to church and you told me to go sit with that black lady?”
“Yes, I remember.”
“Why did you do that?”
“Well, I couldn’t very well sit with her myself and leave you and Scott sitting alone. If all three of us had gone to sit with her in the middle of the service we would have drawn attention to her and I didn’t want to embarrass her. I sent you, instead of Scott, because I thought she might be more comfortable with a little girl than a little boy.”
“Why did people get up and move when she sat down?”
“Because some white people don’t like black people for some reason. They don’t realize that underneath the skin we’re all the same. You can have a red shirt and a blue shirt, both made of cotton that was picked out of the same field, and some people are going to think the red shirt is better than the blue shirt, not taking into account that it’s the same cotton and God created all the colors of the rainbow. No color is better than the other.”
I never regarded that Sunday when Mom sent me to sit with the brown-skinned lady as a lesson taught … but I suppose it was. She taught me something about racism before I even knew that racism existed, before I had even learned to identify people as black and white, before I had ever heard of the N-word or was aware of our country’s history regarding slavery and oppression.
I don’t know if my outlook on race relations would have been different without this lesson, but what I do know is that Mom gave me a beautiful memory.
Mom died 25 years ago this last February, at the age of 52. There are so many things I’ll never know about Mom but memories like this one give me insight into what she was made of and make me proud to have been her daughter.
I wonder if we have duties in the afterlife. If we knew what our deceased loved ones were up to, we would probably make it a part of our daily conversation.
“My grandfather is one of the tour guides. He takes all the new arrivals under his wing and shows them the ropes.”
“Oh yeah? Well, my mother is a part of the welcoming committee. She’s one of the first souls you see when you get there.”
It’s probably best that we don’t know. We’d probably fight wars over whose ancestors had the most glamorous jobs.
I hate the N-word! I don’t care who says it! As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the filthiest words in the English language. I know there’s a difference between the definition and the implied meaning, but it’s the implied meaning that counts. When people try to justify their use of the N-word by referring to the dictionary’s meaning, they just sound more racist.
My original working title for this piece was, “The Adventures of an Insanely Sensitive Person”. The title was meant to poke fun at myself and not to be insensitive toward other highly sensitive persons, but it occurred to me that using the word insanely instead of highly serves no one in the end. The HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) is still so terribly misunderstood that such self-deprecating humor would only serve to encourage more criticism.
HSPs are gaining more and more understanding due to increased awareness but there’s still a huge stigma to overcome.
Traditionally we’ve been called too or overly sensitive, cry babies, too/overly emotional, touchy, thin-skinned, etc.
We’re accused of not being able to take a joke, of not knowing when somebody was “just kidding” or “being playful”, of taking things too personally or of not being able to recognize sarcasm.
The truth is that a HSP is the one who is least likely to laugh when you fall, the most likely to respect your dignity when your crooked toupee falls off your head at the Dollar General store and the most likely to empathize with you during a moment of humiliation or pain.
I would venture to say that most of us regard the janitor with the same level of respect as the CEO. We’re not easily impressed by titles, fame, wealth, physical perfection or nice things. We’re impressed by and value integrity, authenticity and fairness.
We rarely have to be reminded to “walk a mile” in someone else’s shoes. We live our lives constantly trying on other people’s shoes and are deeply affected by it.
Our feelings get hurt – personally – when we see a disabled person being mocked and ridiculed – especially when there’s an audience of spectators looking on – or when we see anyone being treated unfairly or inhumanely – especially as the result of prejudice, arrogance, sheer hatred, etc.
We despise those who consider themselves to be superior or chosen and therefore “more deserving” than others “beneath” them.
Cruelty, insensitivity, egotism and narcissism are our kryptonite.
We just want everyone to be kind to one another – to work out differences calmly and peacefully. We tend to have extreme negative emotional reactions to name-calling, fighting, screaming, bullying, etc.
Thus is the plight of the highly sensitive person.
To give a real-life example of how such a sensitive nature affects a HSP, I’ll use a recent example from my own life in regard to a friend’s misfortune.
I have a friend who I shall refer to as C.F., short for “Canadian Friend”.
But what if I ever decide to mention any of my other Canadian friends in my blog?
I can’t call them all C.F. That would be too confusing to my readers – all ten or fifteen of them.
Maybe I should go provincial.
No, Canadian provinces are pretty large.
Perhaps I should just personalize their secret identities.
Yes! That’s what I’ll do!
On second thought, scratch C.F. I shall now refer to her as L.M., for reasons which will be made clear in the following paragraphs.
L.M. and I have never met in person. We’ve been Facebook friends for nearly four years but have only started having real conversations during the last couple months.
Because I don’t do small talk. I don’t think she does either. I think we both needed a conversation starter, which turned out to be her unwillingness to watch the movie, “Titanic”. I needed to know why, which opened the door to further chats.
Last summer I lost all three of my senior cats – aged from 13 to 15 years old – so when L.M. told me recently that her beloved 22-year-old cat’s health was failing, I instantly empathized.
Her cat’s name was Lassie, which makes my friend “Lassie’s Mom” or L.M.
On March 8th Lassie passed away. L.M. had mentioned that someone in her life didn’t understand the bond between human and furry friend so I wanted her to know that someone did understand. I checked in with her daily, just in case she needed a shoulder. I understood that she wouldn’t feel like chatting but that was okay – I didn’t expect her to.
A side effect of all this is that I’ve been afraid to mention the word “cat”. For the last two weeks I have dropped the word out of my vocabulary in regard to public posts.
Not only have I felt obligated to avoid the word – I have also avoided any posting of cat cartoons, photos, videos, etc. I have them all stored away in my “saved” file for future use. I did accidentally share a St. Gertrude of Nivelles (the patron saint of cats, travelers and gardeners) image on St. Patrick’s Day. I meant to hide it so L.M. couldn’t see it but I forgot to do so and the next day, once I realized she may have seen it, I emotionally punished myself for being so insensitive.
Then, a few days ago on my “Just Plain Vicki” Facebook page, I posted one of a series of fictitious text messages with my imaginary robot in which the robot asked for a kitten. (Side note: I am not crazy! You’ll just have to check out the page to fully appreciate these bizarre texts.) It wasn’t until L.M. made reference to that text that I realized what I had done. Her response to the text was positive, however, and my heart rate returned to normal after realizing I hadn’t destroyed her.
So this is what it’s like to be highly sensitive. In some ways the torture we put ourselves through is somewhat amusing. It’s not all about being a cry baby or taking things too personally. It’s about being wired in such a way that we’re emotionally pained to the core when we feel or sense pain … especially when we’re able to relate. We don’t simply get over things. We learn how to live with the pain inflicted upon us – whether intentionally or unintentionally – and we are changed because of it. It’s not about being thin-skinned – it’s about feeling deeply.
There are episodes of “I Love Lucy” I simply cannot watch, for instance, because of the perceived humiliating situations Lucy gets herself into. The same goes for many other sitcoms which notoriously use humiliating situations to get laughs. Likewise, every episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos features so-called “funny” clips of people getting hurt, falling off of trampolines, crashing into trees, being pranked, etc. I’m aware of the fact that many people find these situations to be funny, but in most cases I simply don’t understand why. Pain and humiliation simply aren’t funny to me.
I used to hate being so sensitive. It was particularly excruciating in my teens. Besides being highly sensitive, I also had an extremely low self-esteem and socially awkward tendencies that made me the perfect target for bullies. It’s not so bad in the adult world, but every HSP has had to deal with the occasional friend, family member or coworker who finds the need to point out that they are sensitive to a fault.
In recent months I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching and self-exploration. I have come to realize that the sensitive souls in this world are not the problem.
The real problem is that we live in a world that has little tolerance for gentleness and way too much tolerance for hardness, coldness, arrogance, boastfulness, prejudice, insults, the infliction of humiliation and bullying.
This seems awfully backward to me.
Instead of advising gentle souls to toughen up, we should be encouraging the more calloused souls to gentle up.
I have more respect for the gentle soul who’s easily bruised than I have for the calloused soul who thinks nothing of bruising others to boost his own ego.
Social media is one of an introverts favorite ways to socialize. The usual stressors which are present when spending physical time with people are greatly diminished in the social media world … but that doesn’t mean it’s completely stress free.
Social media offers its own unique brand of stress, leaving the sensitive introvert with enough stress to cause her (or him) to feel like a social experience has been had, without having to leave the house or see anybody!
Let me demonstrate by taking you along with me for a condensed tour of a fairly typical Facebook session.
My internal monologue is in blue italics.
(Opens Google Chrome. Clicks on Facebook shortcut.)
Oh my goodness! 33 notifications!
I think I’ll do a quick scroll-through before checking my notifications.
(Scrolls through newsfeed)
Oh, look! Jane’s in a relationship … for the third time this year … and we’re just in the first week of March.
Should I congratulate her or wait until next week when men are dogs and she’ll never waste her time on another one again?
I think I’ll wait. Maybe I’ll just pretend I never saw it. She could be single again by lunch time.
At least when I say I’m through with love, I tend to wait for three to eight years before I embarrass myself again.
(Scrolls through newsfeed)
(Scrolls through newsfeed)
Why do people have to be so mean? I don’t like Trump one single bit, but I don’t go around insulting people who do. I simply hide their posts so I don’t have to see them.
How did we end up here?
How were our only two choices Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?
When are people going to realize his character has never been honorable? Even when he was featured in the media back in the 80s he was arrogant … and he’s always been a braggart.
And when are people going to realize that defending his behavior isn’t winning any converts?
Why do people have to be so mean? Why can’t people just be nice?
I’m glad my mother’s not having to live through this. Character meant everything to her.
I can’t believe she’s been gone for 25 years now!
I wonder what she would think of me today. I wonder if she’d be…
I need a tissue.
(Blows nose. Scrolls through newsfeed)
Oh, cool! Somebody started a share-your-favorite-childhood-photo thread. I think I’ll post one.
Scott was so much cuter than I was.
Aww, Shadow was such a good cat. I still can’t believe he dragged a 22-pound turkey from the kitchen to the front door!
I sure loved those overalls.
(Scrolls through photos)
Hmmm… I don’t really know these people but there are some really cool photos here.
I think I’ll like this one …
and this one and…
THIS one’s so cool! I’d bet it was taken between 1948 and 1952.
Let’s see if I’m right. …
What? Why didn’t they post a date?
History needs to be documented!
(Sighs. Continues scrolling through photos.)
Oh my gosh! What an ugly kid! I’ll bet she wasn’t very popular in school. She was probably teased and bullied and came home crying every day and felt worthless and ugly and…
Poor thing!!! I sure hope she grew into herself … or at least developed a good sense of humor!
Nobody has even bothered to like her snapshot! Some of the others have 15 and 20 likes.
There! I hope that makes her feel better. I need to go back through and like the other ugly kids.
(Reviews photos again, liking all of the ugly kids or those who haven’t received any likes yet. Continues scrolling through newsfeed.)
Sandra just posted a video – says it’s hilarious. I guess I’ll check it out.
(Watches clip of kittens being cute and acrobatic…)
Aww! It’s not hilarious but it’s cute!
(The next clip on the video shows a man sledding down a hill and is stopped suddenly when he accidentally scissors a tree)
“NOOOO! NOT FUNNY! No! No! No! That’s awful!”
(Stops video one-third of the way through.)
Oh my gosh! Poor guy! I wonder if he’s okay. How can people think people getting hurt is hilarious? He could have died!
I need another tissue.
(Scrolls through newsfeed)
If they didn’t turn these images into dares by adding “Share if” I might just share some of them, but I’ll be a fire hydrant in Dogland before I let some meme tell me I don’t love God because I didn’t share.
When did one’s loyalties start being defined this way? It’s like a 21st century digital chain letter that uses guilt and bandwagon techniques to get you to prove love, loyalty or memory simply by clicking a five-letter word.
How did we prove that we loved God before Facebook? It’s not like we sent postcards to all our friends twice a week reminding them that we love God!
God knows how I feel without having to…
(Scrolls through newsfeed)
Oh, look! Laura just posted in our introvert group. Let’s see what she has to say…
What the ****?
Somebody just insulted her! Her comment wasn’t even offensive!
That’s not fair!
That’s just wrong!
I better say something to this bully before Laura has to read this crap!
(Leaves comment for bully. Firmly puts her in her place, without being unnecessarily mean – but just enough so she should feel ashamed of herself.)
I sure hope Laura doesn’t get her feelings too awfully hurt. Poor Laura! She didn’t deserve that! Why do people have to be so mean?
I’m so mad I’m shaking!
I can’t do this! I’ll check my notifications later.
I need to go on a bike ride or something.
(Logs out of Facebook. Spends next two hours obsessing over the troubling Facebook posts. Decides to post the experience on blog and returns home to write.)