Tuesday, January 28, 2003

The Power of Place, revisited

In a recent email "conversation," someone asked me if I ever feel "passion for a place." This prompted me to site down and think about the places where I have truly and deeply "felt" something. Indeed, I have what I can only describe as "magnet spots" in many different places. Some of these places I can logically figure out my attraction to, others are a mystery.

A bluff, deep in the woods in Denmark, near where our summer house was. The pebbly beach at Deception Pass, north end of Whidbey Island, Washington state. A particular bend in a tiny road called Croft Lane in the village of Croyde, North Devon, UK. A small roundabout with a small red brick house on the south-east side, in the Blue Ridge neighborhood of NE Seattle, WA. (don't ask, no idea, but it was for sale once-- only just under 1000 square feet). The gardens in front of the UBC Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, BC. Mt.Tabor Park in Portland, OR. Pike Place Market, also in Seattle-- for some reason, the feeling gets strongest the closer I get to the "Y" where Pike Place joins Western Ave. (Beats me, I don't even live in Seattle, 2000 miles away, actually) I can visualize, smell and feel each of these places, pretty much at all times. There are other places which are now gone; which I can never return to, but they still exist more vividly than the "real" places I walk every day.

The strongest feeling I can ever remember having towards a place happened the first time I drove out of Sea-Tac (Seattle) airport and headed up towards the city. I can't even begin to describe it... it was like "seeing life" for the first time. I bawled out loud at the intensity of it; like someone might do whenthey see their first tree after being locked in isolation for 30 years. This wasn't anything "pretty"-- this was a crowded "spur" freeway leading out to Interstate 5. There was absolutely NO logical reason; I was overtaken by something inside. I dunno. I just don't. But it happens every time I pass that spot.

I speculate that maybe a parallel "shadow image," "echo" or a reincarnated part of my spirit from an earlier lifetime may be connected to some of these places. This was especially true with the airport incident. I know that sounds way out in la-la land, but I can't think of it any other way.

Interestingly enough, there are also places that just never feel "right," no matter how often I go back, or how long I live there. For example, I've lived in Austin for nearly 20 years, and there is no place here that moves me to anything beyond "indifference." Florida-- have never felt comfortable there. Pretty much all of the Eastern Seaboard.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

HSPs as "Easy Targets" for Abusive Behavior

One of the most common discussions in the online HSP Communities revolve around the idea that HSPs are-- somehow-- "easy targets" for the kind of people who tend to "use" others to get their needs met, regardless of whether it's abusive, or coincidental.

I think those in need of healing intuitively seek out healers. Whether we necessarily believe it, I think we HSPs are natural healers of troubled souls/psyches. My guess is that's how come many HSPs end up in couseling-like and teaching fields. The trouble comes to us when the toxic people get to be "partners," rather than "clients." The troubles we are trying to heal suddenly get to be very close.

Maybe we're uncomfortable sending away someone who seems to be in need. Someone who has an "inner wound." Even if that inner wound can damage us, if we stand too close to it, for too long. Maybe they sense that we can "heal" them, on some level-- and seek us out. However we may experience and internalize our feelings-- people with personality disturbances rarely look at us (or anyone else, for that matter) and think: "Here, let me HURT this person." They are looking for someone who will just "accept" them... (their paradigm).. and maybe the difference is that non-HSPs have boundaries that automatically reject the "damaged" personality.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Being "In The World" and Working Hard

For many years I tried to learn to be sturdier, emotionally-- and eventually developed some kind of "mask" of capability. Seemed to work, although some of my closer friends seemed to "get" the fact that the facade didn't really match what was going on, on the inside. However most of my work life, and much of my social life seemed to demand it.

I guess I have more or less told society that it can have its BS... and that my inner peace is about me being happy, not about them being happy because they feel like they can "safely approve" of my activities. Maybe it sounds somewhat egocentric, and not very HSP-like.... but I guess I am not into being society's doormat, on some weird level.

So I am not "getting it together and getting tough" in this economy... instead finding peace with the idea that there is still lots of "fat" in my lifestyle that I don't really need. Because, ultimately, I don't want to be a tough, competitive person. I don't believe in "getting ahead" by being on your toes... on someone else's toes.

I don't speak from some nihilistic "because I don't have it, I don't need it" perspective. I've owned a business, had stress, made a six-figure income.... and have decided I didn't like who I became, as a person. The world's perceptions of what I "should" be doing to be a "success" laid on my skin like an oily film... polluting my "self," and leaving me with an "empty" feeling. What's that expression? "Hollow victory?"

I "quit" and became a writer. Struggling? Sure. A friend of mine quit a high profile engineering job with a local Fortune-500 company-- now she's self-employed and has a pet sitting service. She feeds her "need" to (a) make people's lives easier and (b) cultivates her love of animals. She has created her own reality.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Sidetrack: Ideas for these Blog Entries

I seem to often end up here, wondering what I am going to write about. And if I spend too much time wondering, I often end up just leaving, without writing anything.

So I was thinking that it might be a good idea to take some of my "more noteworthy" posts I send to the various HSP listservs, or post on the "big" HSP Community messageboard, and turn them into blog posts here. Not only would it create a collection of "relevant" topics, it would also enable me to gather up all my best writings and ideas on the HSP topic... in one place.

It doesn't mean that I won't occasionally come up with "original" material here.

Not sure why I am writing this, now-- as I don't think anyone has ever read these pages.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

HSPs, Introversion and Meeting People

I am an INFJ, HSP, enneatype 9 and assorted other things that add up to my being not the most "social animal" in the world. In general, I'd say that I have relatively little interest in "group activities" with strangers, although I must confess that I very much enjoy the company of a close friend, on a one-on-one basis. You could say that I don't much like people in a "global" sense, but am very fond of people on a case-by-case basis.

Having said, it may surprise you to know that in my 10+ years of being online, I have met in excess of 100 people, face-to-face, whom I originally "met" through some kind of Internet connection. "How is that POSSIBLE?" you might ask. For starters, let's not forget that this adds up to only about 10 people a year, and many of them were met as part of a group. My point, however, is that 90+% of these encounters have been very positive and non-overwhelming experiences.

I have met an occasional introvert who didn't mind (and even liked) groups-- as long as the group interaction was of a finite period of time, and not too long. In certain circumstances-- which I'll get to-- I belong to that latter group. There's an interesting dynamic, when you get predominately introverts together in a group setting-- they'll find a "comfort zone" very quickly-- usually meaning that a group (for example) of 12 introverts will pair up into six one-on-one conversations-- maybe changing partners, now and then. 12 extraverts would be more likely to have one big free-for-all.

Of course, there are also extraverted HSPs-- but this entry is not about you. But I didn't want you to think that I thought all HSPs are introverts.

But back to how this introverted HSP could go about voluntarily meeting so many people.

There is no parallel in our daily lives that compares to what it is like to "meet" a group of people "you already know" from some kind of online connection. Meeting a group of people (HSPs, for example) you have been emailing with for 6 months or more is completely different from going to a support group (of strangers) you signed up for at the local health center. When you do meet in person, there is a strange camraderie I cannot really describe. Although you are meeting for the "first" time, these people are not "strangers;" and not only are they "not strangers," they are people (thanks to the strange sense of closeness this medium gives us) you have probably shared more openly of your life with than the majority of your "real" friends.

I have been to a total of 7 "group gatherings" which were based on some "common interest." All have been highly positive experiences; I have made some wonderful friends in the process. It seems to me that when you get together (as a group) around a "common bond" it doesn't feel like you're "in a group." It feels like you're in a supportive and non-judgmental meeting of dear friends.

Although I have only been to one "event" that was based on the HSP trait as the "common factor," this meeting of HSPs was no different. And Dr. Aron writes of the importance of HSPs making friends with other HSPs-- so the effort is well worth it.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

HSPs and Unhealthy Relationships

One of the online HSP groups recently had a discussion about the way HSPs often seem to get embroiled in unhealthy or "toxic" relationships with far greater regularity than the population at large. Sometimes I am not convinced that we really get involved with more toxic people than others-- instead it may merely be a case of us not knowing how to detach ourselves from a bad situation.

I was married to a Borderline personality for 13 years. I will certainly say that it was a "learning experience." I am well beyond being mad as *&$*#, and can now say that "everything happens for a reason." Thanks to her, I got more seriously involved in psychology, and was forced to take a long hard look at the reality of myself and my upbringing. But the 13 years really should only have been 6 or 7. In some ways, that marriage should never have happened, in the first place.

As HSPs, we tend to be empaths-- and I think many of us are drawn to the pain some people have in their lives. Unfortunately some of us have early life models that draw us to the "unhealthy" versions of sharing our healing touch. One of the things I learned in post-divorce counseling (and through self-study) is that there is really nothing wrong with wanting to help people. But you don't have to be married to (or in a relationship with) those people whose lives seem to be a perpetual mess. However, it's not always easy-- I know I have an almost uncanny "radar" when it comes to finding what I have come to call "woman improvement projects."

Maybe that sounds arrogant, on some level-- like I consider myself some kind of "superior being." Well, I don't. The desire to "help" those in need doesn't automatically mean that the helper is "all that."

However, it should be a warning sign when you find yourself drawn into some situation where the person is sad because "they have never had a good relationship" and "all men/women misunderstand me" and "if someone would only give me a chance." RUN for the hills! There is usually a reason why these people "have never had a good relationship:" They are destructive/self-destructive, and people who "misunderstood" them and left them in the past did so because they are impossible to live with. There's usually a reason why these people might be 40 years old and "have never been interested enough in a job to stay there more than 6 months," and have a history of chronic firings/unemployment-- and lament that they are always broke. Those may sound like harsh words... and indeed there may be a "diamond in the rough" somewhere, and I do feel genuinely sorry for that "diamond".... but are you really ready to "shoot yourself in the foot" 20 times before you welcome that person who "needs" your nurturing powers in a healthy way?

Personally, I am very tired of narcissistic chaos-mongers who eat up all my energy while offering very little in return-- because they are too "damaged" to share healthy love.

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