The Ingredients of Our Relationships

When I ask my wife if there is any sugar in a store brand of peanut butter she had recently bought, she replies, “What do the ingredients say?”

As an HSP, by nature I’m inclined to watch the ingredients in my food if I’m being proactive in avoiding unhealthy choices.

I’m a strong believer in basing my decisions on the belief that short-term sacrifice create long-term gains, therefore I want to skip the immediate gratification that sugar provides for the long-term gain of a slimmer waistline.

Many circumstances in both our food and our environment present themselves like that; immediately drawing us to a short-term reaction which when  focused on solely, does not allow us time for accessing intuitive awareness of the long-term result.

In relationships, the equation gets a bit more complicated due to the emotional ingredients involved.

The key is to understand which ingredients create healthy choices for you.

This is where following your intuition or “gut” feelings is important as it creates awareness of the long-term result. The quality of your life and of the resulting memories from it will always be a reflection of the decisions made during it.

Some years ago during a phone call, I experienced a rather abrupt end to a close friendship with Gail, a Highly Sensitive woman who I had met a few months earlier.

She wouldn’t tell me the reason for being upset with me and I was startled and saddened at how cold her words had been during our conversation.

I’d always admired her intuitive gift for speaking as she always seemed to know exactly what to say to people so it bothered me that she was upset with me but wouldn’t tell me why.

But as they say; sh*t happens and although I didn’t understand what had happened, after the phone call I felt the best choice was to cease any further contact with her.

As fate would have it, very shortly after making that decision I received a text from a mutual friend notifying me that Gail had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and was now hospitalised. She was also facing a very serious life threatening operation within a few days.

Reading that text left me feeling torn, but my intuition was insistent I go see her in the hospital. Due to my Highly Sensitive nature, being inside hospitals is always tough because I feel the emotionally charged energy of the environment and it wears me out.

Hospitals and funeral homes are the two ingredients in my environment which always have a tendency to wipe my energy out.

When I arrived at the hospital. there were a few a people in Gail’s room. Her mother was standing out in the hall keeping an eye on things and I felt a bit wary as I stood silently in her room awaiting my turn.

After a few minutes they said their goodbyes allowing me to be alone with Gail.

It was a short, awkward conversation and I could feel the depth of her anxiety as the aspect of her mortality ran rampant in her thoughts. Yet, as I sat there struggling to find the right words, I suddenly had a very strong feeling she would survive the operation.

Leaning forward, I looked her in the eye and said, “Gail, I know this is very hard on you right now and I can’t even imagine what you are going through. But, I will see you again once this is over. I promise you that.”  

I had no sooner gotten the comment out of my mouth, when Gail made an anguished noise and threw her arms around me, hugging me as she started crying. Hearing Gail’s emotional response brought her mother in the room and she looked angry. I knew it was time to leave.

I didn’t see Gail again until the following spring when I encountered her on the bike path during a group run with some mutual friends.

As they stopped to chat with her, I hung back a bit as I felt a strong sense of wariness. Looking back, I often wonder if perhaps at that moment my intuition had been trying to warn me.

Regardless of my wariness, I said hello to her and commented that I was happy that my comment of seeing her again had come true.

With a bit of an edge in her voice, Gail commented that she had no memory of that conversation.  Her words startled me and I was incredulous as we said goodbye to her and headed back down the bike path to finish our run. I wondered if she had simply said it to hurt me.

Because her comment had such a strong ingredient of invalidation to it, the taste of it stayed close to my thoughts in the weeks that followed.

It took me awhile to get past my anger and bitterness but that was because I was focused on my short term emotional reaction rather than considering there might have been a bigger picture at hand.

Some months later during an evening run on the bike path, I saw Gail and her boyfriend riding their bikes toward me. I simply waved and ran past them as she had started to slow down upon seeing me.

I had the feeling she may have wanted to talk, but I didn’t stop as I wasn’t having a particularly good run due to the humidity and certainly wasn’t in the mood for a chat.

One thing about intuition is that it will push you out of your comfort zone if there is a bigger picture at hand.

About a year later during a mutual friends 50th birthday party, I had been sitting in a chair in the backyard when I saw Gail arrive. She looked frail and the hair loss from her chemo treatments was evident.

I’d heard she originally decided to avoid chemo treatments but then changed her mind when her health declined. But regardless of the prognosis, her boyfriend had stayed by her side the entire time and had even asked her to marry him.

Although I had planned to avoid her, Gail and I bumped into each other unexpectedly. I was turning away from a person I had been speaking with and literally came face-to-face with her.

I could feel her discomfort as we shared an awkward hello and my wounded ego was urging me to run for the hills. However, my gut was telling me to stay and talk to her so I stayed put.

I don’t remember much about the conversation, but I do remember congratulating her on her engagement and of her reply that she was hesitant due to her illness.

Following a gut feeling, I gently urged her to marry him and we continued to talk about it for ten minutes or so. When our conversation ended and I began to leave, I saw something reflected in her eyes, it felt like she was acknowledging everything which had transpired between us and I knew in an instant that our journey had come full circle.

Nothing more needed to be said.

In considering the choices which present themselves during the numerous relationships in our lives, the best memories of them are created from following the voice our intuition which speaks through our gut feelings rather than the ego centered environment of our brains.

Had I ignored my intuition and let my wounded ego run the show, my memories of Gail would be filled with bitter ingredients. I never did find out what I had done to anger her, but in the bigger picture that particular ingredient isn’t important.

Instead, what matters most is the flavor of the memories I am now left with.

About a year ago, I received a picture from a mutual friend of the rings Gail and her fiancée exchanged during a ceremony in her hospital room shortly before she died.

It showed their entwined hands and to this day I am still deeply moved by it.

For me, that picture will always be the final memory of my friendship with her; a memory containing all the ingredients of a relationship which when thought of, reflects the totality of our journey together.

What about the ingredients created by the journeys of your own relationships?

As an HSP, do you find it challenging to keep your emotions in check while trying to see the bigger picture?

Please feel free to share comments with us about your own experiences.


Pic credit via kgorz

Ed enjoys sharing stories highlighting the connection between Highly Sensitive People and their naturally intuitive nature. An avid distance runner, Ed loves to explore self-awareness through a good conversation.

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