Cold and Indifferent vs. Wise and Exasperated

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I am, on my worst days (or best, depending on perspective), a social recluse who has no desire to be around anybody. I cherish solitude and introspection on those days and use this time to recharge my social batteries.

On the upswing, I love to be around a small circle of friends and family where humour is appreciated and laughter is the only noise that sets off the decibel meter.

I read a book many years ago that I feel was meant specifically just for me. It was called “The Highly Sensitive Person” (I can’t remember the author). I learned that about 10% of the population are highly sensitive to noise, crowds, chaos, etc. I am one of those. I get very agitated and overwhelmed in large crowds (unless people are organized into seats and aren’t moving around about me), and loud chaotic noise such as music I don’t like or people yelling, screaming, and talking over each other (I even have to wear earplugs at concerts; I only attend concerts of people whose music I LOVE).

At my age, I embrace my quirky need for solitude, peace and quiet. And I find the older I get, the more sensitive I am getting. Many people misconstrue this trait in me as indifference and coldness. Yes, I do have a low tolerance for unnecessary drama and I avoid situations where I am put in the middle of people’s recurring problems, but it’s not because I don’t care…it’s because, after weighing the situation, I realize that there is nothing I can offer to their situation that can benefit them.

I understand this about myself – I am emotionally incapable of taking on someone’s problems as my own, meaning that I feel it is sometimes best if I remove myself from situations where it is evident that the owner of the problems are the only one’s who can resolve them. If I take on their emotional burdens, it unfairly affects my husband and children, because I am immersed in something that doesn’t belong in my home. I sometimes get so riled up and excited about “fixing” something that doesn’t belong to me, that I become tunnel-visioned until that problem is resolved. Just recently, I was presented with a situation where I wanted to fix the whole problem by myself and make everything right because I love the owner of the problem. I thought about it and now know that all I can do is offer encouragement and support, and back away.

Any of my past friends and family will tell you that I was someone who was always willing to offer any help I could give and always had words of advice. I’m no psychologist or doctor, but I know that it often helps to get perspective from someone who isn’t caught up in situations, and I could often offer that perspective. That was me years ago. These days, I avoid, avoid, avoid. Not because I don’t care, but because I do…about my own emotional health, and about the peace and sanctity of my home and those in it.

I’m not indifferent. If there are problems that are presented to me where I can give a hug, a kind word, some encouragement and support, then bring it on. I just try to limit how many people I keep in my immediate circle so I can limit the amount of drama and problems that come with them. If that’s wrong, then I apologize. It’s just that some people seem to have a propensity for unnecessary drama and tend to invite ridiculousness into their lives to keep their minds occupied. It’s this I am trying to avoid. This is different from unfortunate, unwarranted, uninvited problems and situations that suddenly seem to appear that puts a wrench into someone’s life. This is different from people who don’t normally thrive on drama and chaos. This is different from people who don’t have an incessant need to know and take on every detail of other people’s life problems. These are what make me exasperated. It is experience with these people that make me wise.

Life will always bombard each of us with problems and unfortunate situations. It is up to us to choose our battles wisely and not turn everything into drama. It is up to us to understand that there is only so much we can do and to not feel guilty for giving people the space and time they need to work things out on their own. It is up to us to offer love, friendship, and support to help them through.

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