I’m HSP, I am.

I’m HSP, I am. I’m HSP, I am. I know I am, I’m sure I am. I’m HSP, I am. * :p

For those who know me, you may (or may not) have noticed that roughly 9 months ago I came upon a personal epiphany where I discovered that I am what is known as a Highly Sensitive Person.

Here is a very well written introduction to an HSP as found on HighlySensitivePeople.com:

Now, as an introduction to the trait of high sensitivity, see if some of these statements resonate with you, or relate to someone important in your life…

You, your partner, or someone important to you have a heightened awareness of subtleties in your environment, whether it’s sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell.

You can become stressed out and upset when overwhelmed and may find it necessary to get away, maybe into a darkened room, to seek solitude, relief and comfort.

You are very creative.

You are very conscientious, hard working, and meticulous, but may become uncomfortable and less efficient or productive when being watched or scrutinized.

You feel compelled to file and organize things and thoughts, also enjoy simplicity and may become overwhelmed or even immobilized by chaos, clutter, or stress.

You are very uncomfortable when feeling things are getting out of your control.

You get a sense of comfort and well being when around a lake, river, stream, the ocean, or even a fountain.

You may experience mood swings, sometimes occurring almost instantly and can also be affected by other people’s moods, emotions and problems.

You have a deep, rich, inner life, are very spiritual, and may also have vivid \s.

You are very intuitive and you feel that you can usually sense if someone isn’t telling the truth or if something else is wrong.

You get concerned and think or worry about many things, and have also been told “you take things too personally.”

You have had the experience of “cutting people out” of your life.

You were considered quiet, introverted, timid, or shy as a child.

So, by “sensitive” it does not just mean emotionally sensitive. It covers all the physical senses too. And basically, that’s me in a nutshell.

I hadn’t intended on going into too much detail about it right here, in this blog post. But if you are wondering if you might also be a HSP, there is a very awesome Self Test available here. This is the test that began the epiphany that has since given me the courage to gain the elusive empowerment I have always faked, but never truly grasped. I’m finally embracing my instincts (or “spidey sense” as my husband affectionately calls it) rather than marginalising it as paranoia or overthinking. I’m learning also that I cannot control how people react to what I say and do, because no matter how sensitive I am, I’m not superhuman. How they react is their responsibility, not mine.

Unfortunately, as much as I am now growing to love and respect my spidey sense, it has also highlighted (and explained) the recurring pattern of damaging friendships I’ve had in my life…

*sung to the tune of “H.A.P.P.Y”

Ring out the Old; Ring in the New

I’m not quite sure how yet another year has swung by me without me noticing, but it clearly has. More to the point though, how have a whole 7, SEVEN, months passed since my last blog post? I must have regained some semblance of ‘life’ IRL for me to neglect blogging.

Or if I’m honest, maybe I just hit writers’ block.

Nevermind. It’s never too late to start afresh – and there’s never a better time for that than in the New Year. Let’s take a look back at the [unrealistic] resolutions I made for 2011

How many of my 5 resolutions did I manage over the last 365 days? Hmm… How many… Let me see…

1) Save: Fail

2) Go to the bank: Once

3) Practice forgiveness: 0.75

4) Appreciate my Mum more: 9 out of 12 months… 0.75

5) Make time for family – it’s the most important thing and you never know how long you’ll have it for: Achieved.

So that’s approximately 2.5 out of 5. Not a complete failure. Not what I had envisioned and definitely not a complete success either.

It’s been a funny year though if I’m honest with myself. Less about my relationships with the people around me (which, btw, saw a lot of activity/changes/adjustments/edits) and more about my relationship with Me.

I thought that all the postnatal nuttiness had pretty much passed by the time 2011 began, what with Madam being around 18 months of age I felt that surely the hormonally charged funk would have waned, and sanity would resume.

I was wrong.

Having my two beautiful young children has taught me, particularly this year, that you should never rest on your laurels and think for even the minutest of seconds that you know what you’re doing, or that you have this parenting/family life “thing” nailed, with your eyes shut, in the dark. N-uh-uh. Nope. It didn’t work like that for me.

When Madam reached the grand age of 2 whole years, she attained a whole new developmental milestone. She’d been talking for 7 months, so had that on her CV already. She was more independent and self sufficient in that way that only little girls can be. The Little Man had finally grown in self confidence in all areas of life that he too was able to communicate proficiently his frustrations and needs. Life seemed to get good. Life seemed to get straightforward. The kids actually seemed to get easy. I know, right. You can see my mistake coming from a mile away.

And so, I plodded on, each day, nursery pick-ups, playgroup set-ups, laundry, dinner, groceries: The minutiae of daily life. As the days passed, I found the children becoming more draining. Requiring more discipline and thus creating more stress. I was at my wit’s end, wondering what the hell was going wrong. Why, when they should be reaching a plateau, were things suddenly becoming such Hard Work? I fumed, I ranted, I moaned, I whinged. For about 2 months. That’s quite a long time. My poor hubs. Then one evening, en route to a new Zumba class with a good friend, I was trawling through my activities that day to begin my usual listing of ways in which the children had been annoying/naughty/misbehaving, only to find I had nothing: They had been good as gold. All day. And I hadn’t noticed.

The Epiphany struck: I was Bored.

I came home that evening and lamented to poor old hubs that I was well and truly bored of my daily life. I was no longer feeling challenged. My brain felt like it was dying and I lacked any mental stimulus. Hubs stared at me, agog that I had finally seen what he’d known all along, but couldn’t say for fear of being executed. Thrilled and exhilarated by my epiphany he declared sanctimoniously: “You need A Job.”

Er, steady on…

So, I ignored him. And I carried on with a new fitness regime. With Zumba and Ju-Jitsu in my life, I found a physical outlet for frustrations and simultaneously discovered a love for exercise that I never knew I could be capable of. I choose a Zumba class that is known to be choreographically more complex (it’s way more fun, truth be told). And having attained my Ju-Jitsu white belt (and gii, and budo pass, and a whole bunch of great new friends) I’ve found myself to love the aches and pains that follow a really good session of learning new throws, locks and kicks. It’s simply awesome fun! About a month after I began this new weekly routine though, I could feel the boredom creeping up on me again, closely followed by hubs’ quiet smugness. It was time for me to find some work.

I had several suggestions thrown at me, but I trumped for good old fashioned evening food work in the end. One night a week with a view to increasing it to a few nights once I’m comfortable not only in the job, but also with leaving the kids so many nights. I leave them to hubs to do the bedtime routine on his own 3 or 4 nights a week now. The mothering guilt that entails can be awful. But it is a great comfort to know that they are with their Daddy, who is far more patient when it comes to Suicide Hour (4pm onwards), so in many ways they’re gaining a lot in my not being there. Still. The guilt pervades. I’m coping better with it now. It is now 9pm before I contact hubs, asking how the kids are. That’s a vast improvement on 4:30pm, 6pm and 7:30pm. Hubs and I are much better for it too tbh as I have a better understanding of his emotions when he goes to work, and he has a much calmer and fulfilled missus who is no longer scratching at the walls [and his face] from frustration on a daily basis. And to think that I thought maintaining the kids were the hardest part about parenting and family life. HAH. Never underestimate the importance of personal development and maintenance.

So here are my five New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 (I’m not writing them off the top of my head at all, honest):

1) Gain 3 new Ju-Jitsu belts before the end of 2012 (Yellow, Orange and Green)

2) Be working at least 2 nights a week by the Summer Holidays

3) One compulsory date night a month with hubs

4) Leave the children to stay with Grandparents (plus Aunties) for at least one night before the end of 2012

5) Practice tolerance with my parents dysfunctionality. (Long story – maybe another blog post someday)

And that’s it!

So, let me wish you all a very Happy New Year: May it bring you many happy reflections on 2011 and hopes for the coming new year :)

My final thought:

The Chinese Aging Process

Thanks to Erin for this.

SO amusing!! I’m still laughing…

The Average Asian Aging Process

…until menopause hits, that is.

High Maintenance; Low Return.

I have a friend with whom I have a love/hate relationship with.  I love her, and I love to hate and complain about her. She’s fabulously thick skinned and tough though – one of her greatest personality traits is that she is unapologetic about herself. So, I can complain to her about what she’s done to annoy me. But she won’t apologise for it; She won’t get hurt by it. She takes it on the chin, explains herself, but ultimately we just agree to disagree. Rarely does she acquiesce to my point of view. It’s quite a unique friendship and one that I have definitely come to appreciate for it’s long-standing quality despite the aggravation I sometimes subject myself to as a result of her actions, lol.

Now this cherished friend has many many friends. Hundreds. Not just on her Facebook, but literally hundreds in real life too. She knows them all to talk to on the phone or text. Most have met her immediate and closest family members. She’s gregarious and sociable. She’s friendly to a fault sometimes, if you ask me. I’ve told her this. She just concedes that it’s part of her nature – she sees good in each and every one of her several hundred friends. It’s quite an amazing ability actually.

I met a couple of her good friends recently at a celebration she arranged for herself, and a couple of her friends shocked me. Primarily for their astounding disregard for keeping the hostess-with-the-mostest happy and relaxed. There was foot-stomping, exclamations of boredom and someone even stormed out. It gave the evening a bit of a negative edge actually. By the next day when I got in touch with her to thank her for yet another great night out, I commended her for strength and integrity in friendships as I could not understand how she could tolerate or maintain friendships that were so high maintenance, with such low return. It was a harsh observation for me to make – but not the most harsh thing I have ever said to her. I can be blunt to a fault, but my friend can take it. That’s how awesome she is.

Anyway. Her subsequent response jolted me slightly as she made an observation about one of my own friends, outside of her social circle, who she’s always felt is “high maintenance, low return” (HMLR). I wasn’t sure how to react as I hadn’t felt that way in a while about the friend she was referring to. My gut reaction was actually to jump to the victim’s defense as actually, they’d been absolutely delightful of late. But having had time to think it through, turn it over and look at it objectively (along with present day actual contact and experience), she is absolutely right. I really do have a friendship of the high maintenance low return order. And I’m not sure why I do it.

If I’d comprehended this situation this time last year, I think I would take the majority of the responsibility for this rather unbalanced friendship on my own shoulders, believing that I’m only getting back what I’m putting in. Ergo, I’m not putting enough in, and actually I’m performing below par for this HMLR friendship.

However, since the death of the toxic friendship (which was the HMLR to set all records in its heyday) I’ve come to realise that I could really put myself out, I could bend over backwards and I could offer myself at the sacrificial altar, but sometimes, it just won’t be enough. Not that I don’t get anything from the friendship as there are obviously good times and brilliant memories, but certainly not enough in terms of quality or quantity to make it a logical relationship to keep. And yet I do.

I guess I’m starting to understand that sometimes it’s just not in a person’s nature to act in the same way as myself in a friendship. Sometimes it’s just the way they are and no matter how much you have loved them and connected with them, there’s really no need to take it personally when they make you feel as though you are not doing enough, giving enough and that you simply are not enough. In such cases they often behave like this indiscriminately, to all their friends, and not just to one person. It’s quite tiring to take (you don’t say).

So. How does one resolve a situation like this?

My head sees it as a very straightforward choice. Why should anybody have to bother with such a draining relationship with anyone?

My heart sees things differently. That the friendship has the redeeming quality of reminding of who I am based on who I was during an era that ended the day I became a parent. It serves as a great landmark for my life at a certain point. Also, I don’t think I have the strength or courage to end the relationship. So I let it run and I appreciate whatever little moments of return I am able to enjoy.

Perhaps the lesson I should be learning here is not how to accept my HMLR friendship, but how to accept someone I love and appreciate as a friend keeping a number of these HMLR friendships herself.

Or even more importantly that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Silent Sunday

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Details of Silent Sunday here

Silent Sunday