I learned, albeit indirectly, about being an HSP from my mom. My first daughter was about three years old and life with her had turned completely unbearable. She’d always overwhelmed me, but I’d been able to do exhausting tricks to keep her happy for a few years. By shortly after her third birthday, life was deplorable. She was, in a nutshell, insane, and my husband and I were living on the edge.
Before that, my little extrovert and I had enjoyed a full social calendar, which served the dual purposes of keeping us both sane and the house pretty clean since it was never occupied. Seemingly out of the blue, she began to refuse clothing. She had always had typical HSC issues such as tags bothering her, but this was crazy, not only because we live in a culture where nude children are not welcomed, but also because it was the middle of a frigid winter. I was going rapidly insane, being held prisoner in my own home. Some days, I would dig deep for reserves of patience and sweet talk her into a few articles of clothing, only to find that after an hour of this, she was naked again and I was still a prisoner. Pre-paid classes were missed, adding to my frustration and resentment. She’d always adored going to classes so I’d signed her up for quite a few. On more than one occasion, I had to take her to the car naked in a blanket simply to get a necessary errand done. My husband witnessed this every weekend but during the week, he could not seem to grasp why I could not manage to get a check deposited or some groceries bought.
On weekends, I would go to every bookstore and library I could find and dig through all the parenting books, trying to find something that resonated. It was during one of these outings that my mother handed me “The Highly Sensitive Child” by Elaine Aron. It was spot on!
Reading this book was very painful because it brought up unresolved issues from my childhood. I went ahead and bought adult book, but seeing as I was in a full-blown parenting crisis, I did not have time to get too deeply into my own baggage. When I first started reading, I was a total sponge, trying to figure out who around me was and wasn’t HS. I was so excited about my discovery, I told a friend about the book and deeply offended her. It was crazy. She thought I was insulting her and attempting to publicly humiliate her. Nothing could have been farther from the truth but she got very hostile and treated me like a stalker so I had to give up trying to explain that being HS wasn’t a bad thing and knowledge was power.
The same is true for my mother. My mother, all her siblings, and their mother too are all HS. But they grew up in a time where this was like saying you had a deformity. Perhaps that is still the case. None of them will admit they are sensitive and when they take the test, sometimes they manage to twist the numbers and get a low score. No matter; they are all off the charts. They all require handling with kid gloves and get into nasty spats with each other (and sometimes with me) that take sometimes months to heal.
How ironic that my mom could find this perfect book to help me understand my HSC daughter, but she simply cannot allow herself to believe that she might be HSP too, and further, that it might be a gift.