This morning I checked Yahoo news to see what was up in the world. There was a local article about 1000, yes that was the number, 1000 trees that were going to be taken out to make room for a new overpass here in Portland. 1000 lives, 1000 homes for critters, 1000 sources of oxygen for all other living creatures, all lost so traffic can move a little more smoothly. I don’t know for sure but I suspect no one in the Oregon Dept of Transportation sees those as lives. I began to weep.
I’ve known for decades that I am a sensitive, someone who feels things more strongly, my own emotions, those of others, the suffering of the world. And for more than five decades I’ve used sugar, and then alcohol, and then sugar again to put a buffer between me and those feelings. As my heart ached for those trees, I felt a surge of panic. How am I now to buffer myself against all the suffering?
From clinical studies done, an estimate 15% of people are sensitives; some believe we are born this way, others that it is the result of early trauma. Either could be true in my case. I’ve met lots of sensitives—they’re often in recovery from drugs or alcohol, they’re often spiritual seekers, they’re often artists or other creatives. We’re loners because the world gets to be too much for us; we avoid conflict and anger because it paralyzes us; we’re highly observant of details and small changes that go right by other people; we sometimes feel raw and exposed and battered by the world. No wonder we seek comfort in substances.
I wrote in my journal about this for a while, then went to the gym, came home to breakfast and a shower, started my work day. But I was just putting off my feelings. I tried to sit with it, to really feel my anguish but it became more than I could handle and so I got busy again. I didn’t eat, but I’m not sure whether that’s a victory or not. I’ll see my spiritual director tomorrow and we will have much to talk about it.