I explained one of my “me too”s in a previous post about a lost dog.
The “me too” campaign comes to me on the heels of some reflection from going to a bunch of different places around California and visiting friends. The following long-ass ramble is not about assault or harassment. It is about sensitivity and the general underlying entitlement and expectations that we sometimes forget is still a baseline for many people when it comes to relationships. These are things I regularly wrestle with too, so no judgment here, just want to share what I am still learning.
In one town, I had a conversation with a friend we will call Banana who I was told recently badgered my other friend, publicly wailing on being upset that she was not spending time with him despite being told multiple times by her that he didn’t possess her life or time. They weren’t dating, and even if they were, he still wouldn’t!! He would say and do dramatic things to make her feel guilty and insecure for hurting him, essentially because she had to work and it wasn’t convenient for her to spend time with him.
A day later, I went to another town to visit another friend who was experiencing a nearly identical situation with a man she cared for deeply, but again, is not owned by him! I haven’t dealt with such blind and possessive people in so long, it is hard to imagine what it’s like to face them and how much of a brick wall they can be.
Anyway, Banana was experiencing pain and suffering, not at the fault of our friend, but at the fault of his own entitlement and expectations.
Simultaneously, on the other side of this same woman’s life, she was experiencing entitlement and possession from an older man she was working with. He would jab her with awkward, confusing bouts of insecurity when she chose to spend free time with her friends instead of at his house, waffling on whether or not this job would still be here for her. How she can live like this, I am not sure, but I admire her for never giving in or giving up. She seemed emotionally solid to me, but sad and worried at the thought of possibly losing a job or a friend to their own misbehavior and lack of emotional control.
During the conversation with the Banana, I was told that San Francisco was too fragile and too sensitive. I thought I would know what to say at the time, but all I could say is that when you are constantly surrounded by people, experiencing and then reflecting, you much more rapidly come to understand what the experiences were for you, if they made you uncomfortable, were productive, etc. and how to deal with them better in the future. So much constant and small friction leads to nearly constant change and sensitivity at growing levels of precision. I was defending our sensitivity, but didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere and I wish I had thought to point out that everyone [including Banana] is sensitive and we each understand & express it in different ways to certain levels.
Relevant Rumi: “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror ever be polished?” To polish your mirror, to rub yourselves and and to talk and reflect on it, is to see yourselves with more clarity. Rub, look, don’t turn away. To talk is to polish, not to break.
Sensitivity does not, by default, equal fragility! To sense things is to be aware! Awareness is empowering!
The people who are sensitive and reacting to things around them indicates that they are at some level of the following -
(1) aware of the content of events happening around them,
(2) aware of how those events affect themselves,
(3) aware of how the events affect others around them,
(4 — HARD STEP) understanding how your desires conflict with the needs or desires of others around you,
(5 — HARDER, CONFUSING STEP) knowing how to balance between the two in a healthy way if there is a conflict,
(6) desire to take action to alleviate the impact of those events, and
(7) feel confident to step up and say or do something that will build a better or different future for themselves and/or people around them.
People reach different levels here, and wherever they reach, there is no judgment, it is a journey that we all cycle through constantly as we experience every encounter in life. I wish I had pointed out that he was sensitive too, but only sensitive enough to know that he was upset she wouldn’t spend time with him and not enough to know that his claim to her time might be upsetting her or just not possible. That is the level he was at when he reacted and when he jabbed her with his own insecurities hoping it would guilt her into hanging out with him again. It is good for him to be sensitive, but he has a few more steps to take when reflecting on what he is sensitive to and how best to react to it.
Sensitivity is not bad. It is a tool we should all tap into. And like any tool it can be used for different purposes.
If you’re going to use it..
Sensitivity for purposes of change for the betterment of yourself and everyone > sensitivity for the purposes of benefit to yourself.
Lastly, if it bothers you that someone is sensitive, then it sounds like you are being sensitive as well. If I polish my mirror, so I can ‘see’ better, sense more clarity and you criticize me, what are we doing? Are we holding up our mirrors against each other and if so, how does your mirror compare to others? When your mirror is blurry af, its easy to toss it aside and say “Looks fine to me!” Your mirror becomes unused and unusable.