Sunday, January 15, 2012

On Sensitivity

Despite growing up as a veritable tomboy who used to run around in hockey jerseys and sneakers instead of whatever it was that teenage girls wore back in the late 80s and early 90s, I have always had a particularly acute sensitive streak.

In other words, I cry a lot.

No really. Like, a lot. I am a gigantic ball of teary emotion just waiting for the right movie (Marley & Me did the trick) to cause the dam to burst. And when it does, mothers, grab your children and make for higher ground. Cause it ain't pretty.

How not pretty, you ask? Well, at the first hint of sadness, a large lump surfaces in my throat, rendering swallowing practically impossible. I try to breathe through this lump, but it just seems to get bigger. So big, that it triggers my tear ducts and my eyes start to well up with tears. To try to avoid the salt tracks down my cheeks, I start to blink. Like, maniacally quickly. Which always seems to accelerate rather that decelerate the tearing-up process, so that I am inevitably left with tears streaming down my face. Then the mucus membrane gets activated, and I start sniffling in a vain attempt to stop my nose from overflowing. At this point, the combination of tears, attempts to swallow the lump in my throat, sucking back snot, and breathing all meld into one gigantic failure, and my body starts to shake uncontrollably. I try to use my mind to calm the spasms, but it never works. Instead, I find myself silently shaking in one spot, until I can no longer breath without gasping for air (probably because I am also swallowing said lump, blinking back said tears and sniffling up said snot, which is a lot to try to do at once), and the inevitable sob breaks free of my mouth. At which point it is game over. I am now a sobbing, convulsing, puffy-eyed, red-faced, runny-nosed mess.

Now the humans in my life just don't seem to get it. As far as they are concerned, all the histrionics are simply not necessary. I get a lot of this:
  • "Jay, stop being such a drama queen!" or
  • "Jay, toughen up! No one likes a suck." or
  • "Oh my g-a-a-w-w-w-d-d-d-d, Auntie. It's just a movie. You're embarrassing me!!!!"
... all of which boil down to, "Jay, you just are w-a-a-a-a-a-y-y-y-y too sensitive."

Well to that, I say "Humph!"

At least the Beast understands me! When he sees me cry, he is right there with me, letting me know that he understands and that he wants to help.

Like the other morning. I will spare my reader(s) the details of what propelled my sadness (suffice it to say that I am feeling better now thank-you-very-much-for-your-concern), but I was in the absolute depths of despair over some thing, and I broke down. There I was, sitting in my bath robe on my couch, face in hands, a pool of snot collecting between my finger tips (hot, I know), convulsing uncontrollably and wailing like a crazed banshee. Poor hubby had no idea what to do to comfort me, so he just kind of sat there, with one arm around my shoulder, uttering "Everything will be okay," over and over again. Which, I admit, was only making me feel worse because I was quite sure at that precise moment that nothing would ever be okay ever again (which is why I might have been accused once or three hundred times of being a tad melodramatic).

And then, all of a sudden, the Beast, who had been sleeping on his bed, sprang up, ran towards me, put his head in my lap for one second, and then proceeded to lose his shit.

Like really lose it. First, he whined. Then he barked. Then he jumped. Then he twirled around in a clock-wise circle. Then he barked and whined and growled. Then he jumped and whined and barked and growled and pawed me. Then he pawed hubby. Then he barked and jumped and pawed me some more. Then he started whining and barking right in my ear. And barking. And barking. And barking. Until I realized that if I didn't stop crying, I would sustain serious hearing loss. So I had to find a way to stop crying and sobbing or else the Beast would not be able to stop whining and barking and jumping and barking and pawing and barking and whining and crying and barking.

Holy shit! That damn dog really is just like me.

It's kind of eerie, really, to see just how in tune he is to the emotions of those around him. Because it's not just crying that riles him up like this. When I express extreme frustration with something or someone, it usually comes out in the form of a very loud swear word, which inevitably sets him off into his own cacophony of profanity, expressed in the form of barking and growling. When my father-in-law was here last November and the atmosphere in the house was shrouded in a cloak of tension (let's just say the f-i-l and I don't always get along so well), the Beast mimicked my walking around on egg shells by pacing back and forth, heavily panting, and moaning and wailing for days on end. When I watch a football game and jump up and down with excitement when my team makes a good play, the Beast barks and jumps up on me, licking my face to share in my joy. And when, a couple of weeks ago, we rounded the corner to our street only to find one of our neighbours face-down in the snow and the paramedics trying to revive her, the Beast sensed our anxiety and our concern and bucked about like a wild horse, madly trying to figure out what was going on and how he could "help".

Eerie indeed. But also sweet that he is so in-tune with me and my emotions, n'est-ce pas?

Or is he?  Maybe he's not so "in-tune" at all. Maybe by mimicking me and my outbursts, he is really just trying to show me what I look like when I am in the throes of emotion. Maybe he is trying to show me how unbalanced I can be at times. Maybe he is trying to say to me, "Hey listen, lady, if you don't calm down, I won't calm down. And you and I both know that you prefer it when I am good and calm. So you really need to chill, okay?"

Maybe the Beast is joining the chorus of all the others throughout my life who have told me to stop being such a drama queen.

Humph! And I thought he was on my side!