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March 30, 2020
Word of the Week: Sensitive
A few weeks ago, I jolted up from being fast asleep at 2am and said to Andrew: “There is a fire. I smell a fire.”
I tore out of our bedroom and furiously checked our burners. Nothing. I checked our radiators. Nothing. The smell was so intense I had to cover my nose with my sleeve. Our air filter had turned red, indicating there was a problem, so at least I knew I wasn’t going crazy even though Andrew only smelled “a hint of something.”
I sent Andrew out on the mission first (not sure why since I’m the one with the spidey senses). He found a few places where the smell might be coming from. He thought someone probably just burnt something while they were cooking (at 2am in the morning??) and suggested we just go back to bed.
My whole body was shaking. “No, something is really wrong. I think we should get out of here,” I said. We decided to have me continue the search. I went down three flights of stairs and was hit in the face with a strong smell of an electrical fire and smoke that pierced my eyes.
What the hell is that? I thought, barely able to stand there without choking. I tracked the smell to the apartment at the very end of the building. My entire nervous system was in full-on panic mode. Where was everyone else? Why didn’t anyone else seem alarmed? Why hadn’t the fire alarm gone off?
I tried to call our Super twice. His mailbox was full. We went around back to knock on his door. No answer. We opened all of the windows on every floor of the building. We shouted in the hallway to try to get people’s attention. Finally, we banged on the door of the person whose apartment we were 99% sure the smoke was coming from. She opened the door and when we asked if she was ok, she had the most bizarre answer: “I’ve already called the fire department. I don’t know what else to do!”
Albeit strangely-defensive, hearing that she was aware of the issue made me feel better. However, my nervous system was still highly activated and I didn’t sleep a wink after that. It took a few days, and some Somatic Experiencing work, for my system to calm all the way down.
That’s the thing with being highly sensitive. We pick up danger signals from a mile away and have a unique role in protecting the tribe. It’s a gift in so many ways. At the same time, it can feel a little bit like you are going crazy since no one around you seems to be clued into the same information. Don’t let other people’s limited capacities invalidate what you sense. Your body is smarter than you think.
Ask Yourself: How often do you override your intuition? When in your life has your sensitivity been a superpower?
Weekly Mantra: I trust my intuition.