Fact Versus Meaning

I often wonder whether I am too sensitive. I used to tell everyone that no one could offend me because I had thick skin. I think everyone saw through that.

Everyone knows that I overthink, even though that thought makes me feel ashamed.

I do not have a thick skin at all. I am an open nerve to the world. I remind myself of when I broke my teeth and every breath of cold air made me shudder.

I don’t mind, and I rarely act on it. I never fly off the handle or shout when I experience these feelings of wincing, squirming or furious blinking. I simply remind myself of my sensitive nature, and tell myself; they don’t mean it like that.

I won’t mention specifics for the minute chance they ever got curious about this blog. I know their intentions are good, and they are a sweet natured person. They are going through an issue in their life, and they remembered I co-write this blog. They asked me for advice on my situation because I am used to feeling sad and for going through hard periods of my life.

Someone also mentioned that losing my mum was similar to their break up. They asked me how I cope. I told myself they didn’t mean how it came across, but yes, I was a little wounded. I let it roll off my skin like the rain, and I promised that their warning of “don’t take this the wrong way” was well intentioned.

Another time this week, someone else said to me that they “were sorry to hear about your loss. Anyway…” I was sent spinning, thinking how 2 and a half years of grief, 54 years of life had been disregarded by one connective. Everyone breathes in through their mouth, yet when I had a broken tooth, the open nerves made it agony. I reminded myself of my nature.

I think all of this comes down to one thing, and that’s that to everyone else, my grief is a fact.

Fact: I lost my mum at 18.

A fact is something everyone accepts, and is a universal truth. A fact is not something that anyone has to think about emotionally. A fact is not something that is up for debate, or has to be carefully considered.

But for me, this is qualitative data with a real person behind it. So, to me, this isn’t simply a fact, this is a story.

All this to say that yes, I am sensitive. But perhaps we need to stop observing stories as facts.

A response to a fact:

“Sorry, but anyway…”

A response to a story:

“I don’t know what to say, but thank you for telling me. I’m sorry to do this, but could I next ask…”

A response to a fact:

“She’s been through stuff, so I’ll go to her for advice.”

A response to a story:

“She’s been through stuff, so this might not be appropriate to ask her.”

Whilst I am one who suffers from the ailment of oversensitivity, I think we each need to consider everyone as individuals with stories, not quantitive data that we retrieve from them.

I send to anyone reading this all good wishes. If this message resonates with you, for someone who has been carelessly handled, or for someone who may have accidentally carelessly handled someone, I know you were doing your best. I know that no one wakes up in the morning and thinks “I’m going to trigger someone” or “I’m going to take something to heart and feel despondent about it all day”.

You are doing so well. Continue to lead with love. Love is not unforgiving, it expects slip ups. Those are the moments we should fill ourselves, and others, with more love and gratitude.

Go gently,

Evee x

61 thoughts on “Fact Versus Meaning

  1. Beautifully written! Of course you are right, we all have stories to tell, especially of those close to us. In the big bad world, those stories are often lost or simply unseen, but they still exist and should be told with love. 🙏

  2. Can’t tell you how much I could relate to your predicament of being being overly sensitive…but gradually I have learnt not to dwell on it as it’s only me who suffers….thick skin is always good..even if it’s not real..

  3. “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” Proverbs 26:20
    You are an amazing young woman if you can hold your tongue when offended. James says “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is perfect, able also to bridle his whole body.” James 3:2
    But remaining vulnerable as you are in this blog is important. Blessings on you!
    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
    ― C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves
    c.a.

  4. When someone says, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but…” I feel as though that, if they KNOW it might be taken the wrong way, does it really need to be said in the first place? I mean, does your future hang upon those words they feel compelled to offer? My ex roommate would often say, “Not to be mean, but…” and I always cringed, expecting something negative to be said. I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve, but honestly, I don’t feel that people bother to look close enough to be able to see it!

  5. I really liked the way you distinguished between fact and story, it’s SO true! I also want to affirm your self described sensitivity. Everyone grieves differently and for different losses in our lives.

    When my father passed away, I did very little grieving because he and I were not emotionally close. I think it would be terrible if my daughter had the same lack of emotion after I pass away. To me, grief is about loosing connection with someone we deeply care about, and I want us to have that mother-daughter bond between us.

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your heart with us.

  6. I think most people are sensitive in areas of their life more than others. For example, I put everything into my teaching. My students didn’t get a perfect teacher, but they got one that cared and wanted to do his best by them. Most people (parents and fellow staff members) knew I was a compassionate, giving, and good teacher. If a parent was ever made a critical comment (it did happen), I used to take those remarks so hard and was overly sensitive. Over time, I realized you can’t please everyone. I didn’t need their affirmation to know I was an excellent but imperfect teacher doing his best. In other areas of my life (writing, for example), I’m not as sensitive. I’m not sure why that is.

    Everyone grieves differently. We had to put our dog down at the beginning of the pandemic and that was hard on both my wife and me. To this day, I still can’t bring up Jake without her going to tears. She is still grieving, and working her way through the process. That is not to compare my situation to yours. The loss of a human life carries much more significance, though losing a pet is also devastating. I think when someone says, “I’m sorry for your loss” it’s his/her way of trying to show empathy. In part, they may not know what to say. Knowing how to respond to someone who is grieving is not easy.

    1. Thank you for sharing your feelings about teaching and about your writing. This was a lovely comment to read x
      You are so right about grief, and about people’s responses. Thank you for such a well thought out and kind comment x

    1. All we can do is work on it 🤍
      I go the other way: I go in on myself and fall silent. Neither is a good method, but I think the intent to change with a loving nature is all that we need x

      1. That’s so great to hear! I have started yoga and it helps me to feel that calm and peace to let go of things. I find it so helpful to be able to carry that peace and understanding around throughout my day 🙂
        Thank you for sharing x

    1. It is enough to recognise it. I recognise I have said insensitive things also. All we can do is work on ourselves to be the better version of us today than we were yesterday x do not be disheartened x

  7. Grief is the sticky glue we try to shake from our limbs on the spiders web of living.uncomfortable,yes. Angry, yes, despondent,definitely. But it is a fact.thank you for sharing

  8. Thank you Evee. I get so frustrated with the things people say to me in my grief. I know they mean well but that doesn’t excuse the hurt they cause. Only once have I gone off on someone over the last seven months, but sometimes I feel as though I could explode. Grief is so personal and isolating. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. Grief is personal even within families, it is what is has to be. But it’s often magnified by memories. We should always expect the same rules to apply to others so we should approach on tiptoe but with the offer of open arms.
    Huge Hugs to you Both

    1. Exactly.
      I don’t think we should tiptoe, because mistakes do happen and are necessary, it is more that we have to be ready to think with love: for the person making the misjudgement, and for the people on the receiving end 🙂

  10. What a beautiful post, Evee. I too am a highly sensitive person. Tough during childhood, extremely hard during my teenage years, and even harder as an adult. Though I would not change my sensitivity, as it brings many gifts, it can be painful. Love and light to you, my friend. ❤️❤️

  11. I am sensitive person too! But do not think it’s a problem. Yes feeling are a truth of the moment, but they are still the truth. When the heart is injured it likes to cover up the wound yet when it brought out in open it reminds you it’s there. Sadly alot of times only way too healing is though alot pain…. so hang there🙂

  12. I’m a sensitive person as well, but I try hard to keep my feelings in and shut those things out that hurt me. If it is someone I am acquainted with or close to that rubs me the wrong way or says something to hurt me I will not let them get close to me emotionally because that’s the way I protect myself.

  13. Meditation and journaling are helpful. When the trauma was too much for me to deal with and would cause me to act out, that’s what I did to prevent me from acting out. I still do it every day because it keeps me focused and strong. I’m glad you promote them on your blog.

  14. Well said. I never know what another’s experience is and if I tell myself I do then I’m lying. It’s like pretending I “know” how someone feels. About anything. How could I possibly know? Everyone has a way of expressing experiences and states of being. I find most of the time that being supportive and expressing feelings about what’s said but can’t possibly know is enough. I know sadness but I definitely don’t know your sadness. How I grieve and why I grieve is my reality not someone else’s. I think you make some excellent points about a subject that is socially important. Thank you.

  15. This is awesome. I have been on both sides and, as a textbook highly sensitive person (it’s a real thing; Google HSPs), I suffer pain equally from either side of the situation). I’m learning (struggling) to be forgiving of myself and others. This is a very honest and helpful post.

  16. I can relate to your reaction to some of the insensitive things people say. I lost my husband years ago and have heard these kinds of comments. But I tried to remember that they were coming from people who hadn’t experienced that depth of loss, so they didn’t know what to say. I tried to hear it as “I care” and “I’m sorry you have to go through this.”

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