Two people can experience the same event and have completely different reactions. Even weeks after a simple enough event, some people can still be traumatized by what others would have integrated and moved on from. I recently discovered the term Highly Sensitive People (HSP’s) in Zoe Kessler’s blog ADHD from A-Zoe who put me onto Elaine Aron’s book: Highly Sensitive People.
Two things have happened to me recently. In the first I ran into the back of another car at traffic lights and ended up with a headache and a sore arm. The other occupants got a jolt but were unharmed. The worst part was that the other car contained a child just out of hospital. I was far more upset by my inattentiveness than the actual event. In terms of car accidents it was a minor bingle, but I still feel sick thinking about how that scenario could have been much worse.
The other happened last night and concerned a cat, just hit by the car before us and left on the side of the road. We stopped the car to see what we could do, such take it to the vet, but it was already dead. We were shocked someone could just drive away leaving the poor cat to its fate. The beautiful long-haired tabby (similar to one we have at home) had a collar with a phone number. I had the heart-breaking job of telling the owner that her child’s precious pet was dead.
Both instances upset me greatly. What if my distracted state had caused serious damage to that child and what if it was a person and not a cat killed by that car? It wasn’t what happened; so much as my excessive ruminations (and nightmare last night) on what could have happened. I believe it is called catastrophising.
While these events in themselves are not nearly as traumatic as others, my reaction was more than most. I needed to isolate and reflect and felt a deep, deep sadness, a grief for all those people and animals who have ever been physically, verbally or emotionally hurt in their lives. I just wanted to hug the world and kiss it better.
Some might argue it was just a cat, but for me it was a vivid reminder of the both the suddenness and randomness of accidents and also the sheer indifference people can display to the suffering of others, whether animal or human. It’s not easy being highly sensitive in a highly insensitive world.
But I do believe in karma and I would really like to think that the dumb idiocy of the first incident was somehow weighed up against and perhaps redeemed by the caring and kindness we displayed in the second. For me it was a sort of balancing out of my own personal universe, the yin and yang of life and all the good and bad this world has to offer. Really, it’s the best I can do.
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From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (July 23, 2010)
Last reviewed: 22 Jul 2010