Unlike the other books, this particular book cover was facing outwards.
Maybe it was serendipity.
We were in an alternative bookshop in Totnes, Devon, UK, when my partner chanced upon Dr. Elaine Aron’s, “the Highly Sensitive Child, Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them”.
Reading the brief insight on the back cover, she passed it to me and after having done the same, I said something along the lines of, “this is describing our son so aptly!”
Did this happen purely by chance, or maybe it was meant to be?
Needless to say, my partner and I read the book pretty quickly, (apologies to Irvin Yalom, Love’s Executioner had to wait), and set about adjusting our parenting style to be good enough for whatever life threw at us.
Logically, I went on to read other parenting books that touched on sensitivity, including Ted Zeff’s “The Strong Sensitive Boy”, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka’s “Raising your Spirited Child”, “Raising Boys” by Steve Biddulph, and “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne.
The next text I read was Dr. Aron’s original book, “The Highly Sensitive Person”.
If reading the HSC was enlightening, this was positively revolutionary.
Now I was no longer reading about my son, I was reading about me, and about my wife.
Even now it is difficult to describe what came up and maybe it is more laborious the older you are with more life experiences behind you, but there came a realization there is almost a life before and a life after knowing about the trait, and the discovery that it applies to you, wherever you are on the spectrum on the many facets of high sensitivity.
As high sensitivity is an inherited trait – and I’m aware that it is possible neither of your parents has the trait, but a close relative that has passed it to you.
I explored my family further and came to the conclusion that my father was indeed highly sensitive, my mother possibly not.
Sure he was good at team sports, particularly football (soccer) and cricket, and was in the army for a while, despite not being a typical macho guy, yet if he was to have taken the test, I’m sure his temperament would have confirmed his being an HSP.
Acceptance of the trait came fairly easily; not apportioning blame to a parent who simply didn’t know about the trait was the hardest aspect for me to work through though; I can still hear some of the harsh comments that did nothing to foster my self-esteem.
By the time Elaine Aron started her research in 1991, I had already left home, been to university, and been working for a few years.
Self-care became my number one focus.
Many of the aspects of sensitivity had come up naturally – sleep, diet, consumption of alcohol and caffeine, noise and light sensitivity, meditation, mindfulness, yoga and this again took me back to early in my previous life, as an unaware HSP, wondering what had caused a bad night’s sleep.
I’ve been fortunate to connect with other HSP’s both face-to-face (sounds weird writing this in lockdown) and can say there is something magical about this.
Perhaps it’s the energy, perhaps that lack of judgment for being who you are, but it is certainly different and well worth seeking out when possible.
In the present, I now see everything in a completely new light, with my “HSP spectacles” on.
I have a better understanding of what went on in my “previous life”.
Did life change for you after you learned you have the HSP Trait?