Last Christmas (sounds like a song) I was sitting in a completely dark living room with my girlfriend. Not because we had no power, or thought it was nicer, but purely out of necessity; I could not bear anything anymore.
Light, sound, movement, everything was too much for me. I was overloaded.
The entire month of December I was feeling tired, I was suffering from inexplicable stress that would not go away and I slept badly.
A few years ago I first read about highly sensitive people. I immediately knew that I belonged to those people, but being a man I thought this was a no-go.
Everyone already thought I was too sweet, I couldn’t have this stamp, so I didn’t delve into it. I continued to live my life as a “normal” person, for the outside world.
I had a job at the busy Schiphol airport, trained hard in the gym, had many social contacts and regularly went out. Only my very best friends knew that I also had to retreat regularly to the tranquillity of my own house.
Totally empty I lay on my couch for days, a hoodie over my head, my music on, closed off from everything and everyone.
Like a lot of us, I had to deal with some bad experiences in my life. As a child I soon knew that I was different from others. What’s wrong with him? I often heard.
I was anxious, quiet and was called shy. He is very sensitive, my mother often told people, as if it were something bad. In my teenage years and in my later life I was often judged to be too kind, I didn’t understand, I didn’t see myself that way at all.
Where my peers made enormous leaps, as if life went naturally, I lagged behind in development. It took me longer to take steps, was often afraid of doing anything at all, and if I finally dared, I would be proud, but totally extinguished for a week. It made me often struggle with life. This manifested itself in recurring depressions and even self-hatred.
After my mother’s died from cancer, my life seemed to be erupting like a silent volcano that suddenly spits out lava. All experiences and many years of care exploded in a panic attack. An experience I didn’t know, I thought I was dying.
More panic attacks followed afterwards, so I ended up in a burnout. I was empty. I am grateful for the burnout now; it made me realize that I only have one life, and that I can shape it myself. I quit my job and moved with my family from the overly crowded Netherlands to the tranquillity of Sweden.
This is in short how I ended up completely empty on the couch at Christmas.
I thought about how I lived such a peaceful life in Sweden but could just as easily be overloaded.
I suddenly remembered a story about a man in the book by Elaine N. Aron. She described the story of Rob, a man with the HSP trait who is curious and very cautious, fearless but also tense and easily bored but also easily persuaded. I immediately recognized myself in Rob.
I took Aron’s book from the bookshelf and decided to really change my life. It was time to accept who I am and act accordingly.
This acceptance was all I needed; it gave me such a boost that I started a website for the highly sensitive man. I noticed that many HSP books and websites are aimed at women; being called sensitive still seems to be a taboo for men. I see it as my task to remove that taboo.
As a highly sensitive man – have you accepted your trait?