The too-open heart

I scare people, with almost monotonous regularity. Some respond by being offended, others back away, or run away. From as far back as I can remember, people who I’ve let get close to me have come back to say I am too serious, too intense, too melodramatic, too difficult, too much bother. About this time a year ago, having been through one of those and been told that my excess of feeling had somehow made someone else ill, I called ‘enough.’ No more of this ridiculous exposure. No more knock-backs.

Then six months later, in a triumph of optimism over experience, I sauntered out and did it all again, to the same refrain of complaints… too much, too uncomfortable. On this occasion I had tried too hard and given too much.

It’s hard to express what the consequences are of pouring heart and soul into something, giving all that you have and being told off and pushed away as a result. This has been the pattern of my life, reoccurring down the years with far too many very different sorts of people. As the consistent part of this is me, it seems logical to deduce that the problem must also be me, that the criticism is fair, and that my excessive nature causes other people pain and discomfort. As I have no desire to make the people I care about miserable, learning not to manifest too much of how I am has become an important project.

I don’t know how to be anything other than wholehearted. I don’t know how to turn up to any situation or person in a half-arsed state of don’t really care and can’t be bothered, but as far as I can make out, many of my historical interactions with people would have been a good deal more viable and sustainable had I brought that to the table, rather than this urge to do my best. I’m not prepared to learn how to be careless, and so I have tried to learn how to hide, to downplay the hours I put in, to not mention how important things, and people are to me. There is a loneliness in that, but it keeps me in the game, allows me human interaction and participation, reduces the risk of my causing pain with my too-muchness.

Fascinated as I am by how people think, I also need to deal with the gap in my understanding here. Having never been offended by someone else’s emotions, the idea perplexes me. I can be offended by actions, and by unkindness, but I can’t imagine getting angry with someone because they cared about something. I assume there’s another facet to this, that my care, my seriousness, my work ethic exposes something. Perhaps it feels like a judgement (which it isn’t), or prompts other people to feel uncomfortable about something in themselves that must then be fended off by lashing out at me. Perhaps it is to do with values clashing, and that what I see as ‘can’t be bothered’ is something more important, more cherished by the person holding it, and I am failing to recognise and honour something there.

When I was younger, emotional honesty seemed like the most precious, most important thing. Experience has taught me to revise that. I hold emotional honesty within myself, but what goes out is usually almost entirely muted, both the ecstatic and the agonised, so as to be more tolerable. There’s a certain irony to this, because the ‘heart on sleeve’ nature of this blog has been remarked on by others. This is not heart on sleeve, this is carefully thought through, processed and calmly written. It’s nothing like dealing with me in the raw. I do it because every time thus far that I’ve exposed something in this way, someone else has found it useful.

So, if there are any other little monsters out there, who love too much, and cry too easily, and won’t sit down and don’t know how to shut up and have no ability to shrug and walk away and carry the weight of the significance of things… you are not alone, and perhaps there is some comfort to be had in that thought.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

8 responses to “The too-open heart

  • druidcat

    Part of me wishes I wasn’t reading this and nodding through it all. But… part of me is actually proud that sometimes I stand up, unafraid to feel in the face of all the ‘shut up, sit down’. I’d rather live honestly than … the alternative. Which isn’t really living at all.

  • Crystal L.

    I’ve always been too much for people, too. Like you, I’ve learned to offer a watered-down version to the world, which is still often too much. I fell everything deeply, no matter what emotion it is but years of criticism, even from family, taught me that me “as I am” was unacceptable.

    It’s hard in my offline life to find, not just someone like me, but someone who can truly accept me full-strength.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Being unfeeling sees to be what a great many people are perhaps out of fear of being affected by the people around the. But that watered down view of life can not be very happy either. A non passionate life is never going to be very exciting.

  • Cheryl

    It’s true I can relate to this and have often thought that I was the one with the problem. “Cheryl? oh She’s overreacting ” “Cheryl? oh she’s sensitive” “melodramatic” “attention seeking” “victim” “fragile” “annoying”. I’d question why I was “too much” and unfortunately a lot of that openness has been taken out of me in my adult years. I admire you for sticking to your guns. I have lost something in myself and feel very lost right now. ‘You can’t please everyone so why not try and at least please yourself?’ I ask myself. Who am I kidding I wasn’t brought up like that.
    Very thought provoking as usual, Nimue 🙂

  • locksley2010

    I think this says more about the people who criticise your feelings, perhaps they feel they’re “Not Allowed” to express…. so why should anyone else? They find it too much? Offensive? The question here is why? I fully agree with Cheryl above, we cannot please everyone, so you carry on and don’t dilute yourself.

  • Dianne Crenfeldt

    It’s terrible when the world at large makes us hide our passion for things. I think peoples reactions are because they feel guilty that they don’t try as hard/show as much. You should be able to bee yourself.

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