Recently, On more than one occasion I have been accused of being “too sensitive”. I always get surprised when someone says that I am sensitive, I had never thought of myself that way… and now PTSD has turned me into an over sensitive cry baby.
I had to learn to let things roll off my back. I was used to the name calling, the patronizing lectures, the learning-to-shut-up-before-I-regretted-it. My friends would encourage me, “You just need to learn to set boundaries”. But I had learned the consequences that would occur if I stood up for myself. Basically I got used to being silenced. Silence was my normal. I was compliant when others informed me that they “would have never put up with __________.”
It has taken me along time to learn that I am not unique. In his book, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Jack Lundy writes, “YOUR ABUSIVE PARTNER DOESN’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH HIS ANGER; HE HAS A PROBLEM WITH YOUR ANGER.One of the basic human rights he takes away from you is the right to be angry with him.”
We survivors have to unlearn many things – we no longer need to swallow anger as it has always been used against us in the past. Our emotions were “proof” that we were irrational and crazy. Jack Lundy continues and says “[…] Abuse can make you feel straitjacketed. You may develop physical or emotional reactions to swallowing your anger, such as depression, nightmares, emotional numbing, or eating and sleeping problems, which your partner may use as an excuse to belittle you further or make you feel crazy.”
So now, here I am, almost three years out of that relationship, learning to heal. I am learning how to be myself again – actually I am learning who “myself” is. I had always viewed myself as a strong, intelligent, independent woman. A firecracker – my friends once referred to me as “a force of nature”.
I am building a new life. In a new city. With a new job. As a new me. However, I find that this version is of “me” is anything but “a force of nature”. I find myself entering social situation – and when conflict arises, I shut down, I silence myself. For nearly a decade this is all I knew.
“You are so sensitive” more than one person has said that to me. In turn, my eyes well up with tears and my head screams, “I’m not fucking sensitive you beligerent twant waffle”. My mouth stays silent.
I do not have a problem with disagreement. I can handle opposing points of view – what infuriates me is when someone uses an opposing point of view as battering stick. My difference of an opinion does not give another the right to berate and belittle me, that is what makes me angry, not sensitive. I have a right to be angry when I am mocked and put down.
So to those people who complain, ”You’re too sensitive” –
Eff your feelings about my sensitivity. I am allowed to feel. I am allowed to be angry. I am allowed to be upset about the way I am being treated. Especially now. I am a survivor and it took me a long time to learn how to stop being a doormat and victim and start standing up as a survivor. I spent enough years pretending to be hard, pretending that words were not hurtful, but the matter of fact is – word hurt. Condescension hurts. … And you know what? PTSD is a bitch. I may not even be upset with you. Maybe I am crying because the stapler did not work correctly. I do not have to explain my triggers to you.