Sense and Sensitivity
I am thin-skinned, hysterical, irrational. "Stop being so sensitive," they lecture, forgetting that it's in my nature, that it's as much a part of me as my eyes are green. I’m easily affected. It’s both an inconvenience and a blessing having a heightened sensitivity to the world. Colours are sharper, sadness is knifepoint, and happiness shatters rib cages to make space for an expanding heart.
I’m an emotional precision scale, my needle spinning and spinning and spinning with a grain of sand. And yet, there are others with the stolidity of a supermarket self-checkout. “Please place the item in the bagging area,” she calmly instructs, unable to feel the kilogram of potatoes sat on her back. And though they’re the same people slating me for my sensitivity, they come to me with stomach pains, boiling blood, stinging eyes, and tight chests, expecting that I’ll whip out my magnifying glass and trench coat to solve the mystery of their feelings.
They’ve watched as I carefully unravel my emotional knots, transforming matted clumps of wool into healthy, sensible scarves and jumpers. Then, with a buoyant “here you go,” they chuck me their headphones, labyrinthine from years of pocket-dwelling disuse, and expect me to charm the snakes one ear at a time.
It’s work and it’s hard. With aching hands, I’ll unpick their mass so that they can leave, satisfied, with music carrying them away. I earn only silence and trigger finger for my time. With my detective work complete, they forget they ever had feelings and return to taunting me for being weak - or, as I like to call it, emotionally intelligent.
I can’t wait for the day when society approves of sensitivity. When emotions aren’t swallowed or channeled into violence but instead expressed as hand-holding and smiles, as cooked dinners and freshly brewed tea, as shivers and bouncing feet, and running and dancing and painting and writing and talking and talking and talking and talking.
Because it’s dangerous the way it is. Because sometimes the Emotionally Numb don’t do their washing and they wonder why they’re naked and cold and where all their clothes have gone. The Sensitive, adept and well-versed in the symbols on laundry labels, try their best to help. But their washing machine is a small domestic animal that came with the house, and it can’t take the weight, the quantity, the number of washes, the sheer amount of the filth on the clothes. And it stops.
It forgets what to do with the dirty water, it forgets to drain, and it floods the kitchen floor.