The Curse of the Sensitive Soul

When sensitive children are born to parents ill-equipped to raise them—burdening them with a sense of shame (for who they are) and unworthiness (for failing to measure up to some unattainable, ill-conceived ideal)—it can be difficult for them to do the work of determining their self-worth. Their way becomes obscured by self-doubt, insecurity and fear, and they devote themselves to earning validation through the exploitation of their gifts. For artists, this often results in a perversion of their work, which they abuse to gain attention—creating to please rather than praise, protest or perfect—devoid of an authentic vision, producing whatever will soothe the desperation within.

Of a sensitive disposition myself, I have come to learn that it was a product of pure chance that I was born to parents incapable of truly understanding my nature; that I grew up with false information about myself—a distorted reflection of my value not only from them, but also those individuals into whose care they placed me. Were I born to parents capable of properly raising a sensitive child, I would not suffer the emotional handicap that thwarts me today. I have learnt that I do have worth, but that it was never affirmed in the way I needed it to be—as a boy, a young man, and now a man. This knowledge is liberating. It gives me a glimpse of life without anxiety, penance and doubt.

Remember the fields…

A colourful field of wildflowers with pools of water and drifting clouds
A scene from Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) by Hayao Miyazaki

Isolation

I prefer to be alone. Growing up, I felt as if there was no one to defend, protect, value and recognise me. Early on, I learnt the benefits of separation as a way of coping with this reality. But, the emotional stuntedness, detachment and isolation I began to experience as a result, left me feeling disconnected from others, especially the people who were “supposed” to love me. I don’t pretend to speak for all people with dysfunctional backgrounds, but we tend to feel numb and consequently unable to form healthy relationships. Because we feel like aliens, the best we can do is to imitate behaviours that help us pass off as human. Even when we are besotted with someone, we struggle to connect on anything more than a superficial level because we are afraid of exposure.

The wasteland within

To me, love is an unattainable ideal, an experience I must be denied. Somewhere, in the recesses of my soul, a siren sweetly sings of how hateful, shameful and worthless I am. My relationships fail because I subconsciously engineer them to do so. My inner landscape is so devastated that I am incapable of inviting anyone in. In fact, I dread visiting there, myself! If they saw what a wasteland it is, they would run for the hills! I don’t invest much of myself in a relationship—I dare not! Too many forbidden forests would have to be visited and too many treacherous tombs excavated in order for me to open up in any meaningful way. And so, I play along until the relationship comes to its inevitable end. With the self-sabotage complete, I can retreat again to the familiar places.

Beautiful barrenness

One gets used to the wastelands. So much so that the barrenness becomes beautiful. Any green is regarded with suspicion. How can there be green when there is no rain? When the storms bring only darkness and howling winds, blowing up disorientating clouds of dust? Surely, there are only thorns and weeds to choke the ruins of what could have been? Aren’t all the landmarks hills of anger, pain and sadness, the constants we learn to love over time? They seem inextricable from the landscape, how can one ever abandon them for happiness? Is happiness not just an unexpected flower that wilts and withers the moment it is seen? (And what a relief when it does, no longer there to remind us of our loss!)

Finding the fields

And yet, there is hope! Occasionally, I come across fields of wildflowers, miraculous and wonderful. I discover them in the wastelands when music, like an irresistible siren song, draws me to where they are. Once there, I can destroy myself on the rocks of beauty to be reborn for a moment into something free, hopeful, vulnerable, honest, unspoilt and untamed! I wish I could remain there, but as I wander the wasteland, traversing vast stretches of everyday life, the fields are soon forgotten. I even forget that music is who I am, it is what I should do. Distracted, I stumble aimlessly along. And that is why I created Forgotten Fields. It is like a map and compass, reminding me that the fields exist, that I must not forget them, that music is the way to find them. Dear reader, what is your music? What is your map and compass? May you find it, soon!

FORGOTTEN FIELDS