IMG_9307[1] (2)Today I’m feeling sad.  I’ve been this way all my life.  I still struggle with feeling lonely and isolated.  Where does this sadness come from?

My first realization is that I’m highly sensitive.  It’s the term I’ve used for years to explain my sadness. Now I realize that everyone is as sensitive to their own triggers as I have been to mine.  I am learning it is how I react to situations that is more a cause of my sadness.

The curse is that my sadness can isolate me, making me feel utterly alone in the world, discounted and ignored.  My sadness distracts me from work and pushes me to find outlets for the feeling of being less than alive.  And even when I’m feeling isolated I have to admit I have times when I enjoy my autonomy as much as I enjoy being around people.  I need to find the right balance.

My second realization is that I often feel like a disappointment.  My parents expected a lot.  My mother was a perfectionist.  My father couldn’t understand why I was not a typical boy.  Their strong reactions when I didn’t get things right meant I had to work hard not to disappoint them…or me.  I spent much of my life trying to be accepted…Am I not okay just as I am?

 Fear of disappointing led me to be super-responsible, and impatient with others who were not as reliable as I.  I grew to dislike most people because I could not trust them to be there for me as I was for them.  This fed a vicious cycle.  I would be less than perfect in performance, which led to someone being disappointed, which led to my feeling judged, which led to feeling rejected and abandoned, which led to more sadness.  I was not enough. What have you done for me lately? was the mantra.

And what about love?  There was little room for such a luxury.  I was too busy trying to earn respect, and the recognition that I even existed.  After all, “they” could withhold love as soon as I disappointed them.  I couldn’t risk it; better not to expect to be loved.

I feel as if I’m coming out of a fog.  My business coach has been a great help because she’s introduced me to the concept of offering my services without apology, without a fear of disappointing, with a sense of being complete in myself.  It’s going to be a long road ahead.  I will still default into this feeling of sadness at times.  Now I know where it’s coming from.  I can take a deep breath and give thanks for being truly uniquely “me.”

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Text and artwork copyrighted by Michael Parise