The strongest message I’ve received in my life is that I am far too much.
Too sensitive. Too emotional. Too reactive. Too perfectionist. Too excitable. Too shy. Too passive. Too bossy. Too careful. Too paranoid. Too anxious. Too sad. Too hard to love.
I’ve received these messages my entire life, but the abusive relationships I ended up in compounded my sense of being “too much” to the point where I’ve now internalized this narrative so deeply that it’s become a key part of how I define my identity.
My too much-ness has become so much of who I am now, but honestly, I’m not sure if it’s a good thing.
Being too much means feeling too much. And feeling too much means being overwhelmed a lot of the time. It also means (I’ve been told) that I’m moody and needy, two things you most definitely DON’T want to be, according to the men I’ve been with, the dating apps I’ve used, the self-help books and articles I’ve read, and the people I’ve interacted with in general. You can’t be too much in this world—being “extra” isn’t actually a good thing.
And I’m SO extra…
I’m so extra that I live feeling overwhelmed almost all the time.
I’m so extra that my life is now a game of reigning in my extra-ness, my “too much-ness”, all day every day. My full-time job is holding myself back from being more than I should be.
(Ugh. I just cringed when I wrote that. Because “shoulds” are things you’re told to avoid by counsellors and therapists. “Shoulds” are unfair expectations that you put on yourself. “Shoulds” dictate your sense of self-worth in unhealthy ways. “Shoulds” keep you depressed and anxious. “Shoulds” are not good.)
I have flat-out been told that I’m hard to love.
First of all, who says that to someone? Who is so fucking selfish and hurtful that they would say to another person that they are less worthy of love because they feel things in big ways?
Narcissists say things like that. Abusive partners say things like that. Whiny, self-important, indulgent little pricks say things like that.
And sadly, I still believe them. I just can’t shake this feeling of being more than I should be.
Here’s a great example: I’ve been dating again in the last year. Dating for me involves a lot of editing and restraining myself from overdoing it. I don’t want to “scare someone off” by being too much for them, so I try to hold back. I try not to text back too quickly, be too needy, give up my time or my body too soon, share about my past and my struggles too openly…I hold all that shit in because I’m afraid that if I put it all out there right away, I’ll lose any chance at finding a partner.
But it doesn’t feel fair, having to put all this effort in to change myself. And the saddest part is that my needs really do seem to alienate people from me, so whether I edit myself or not, I end up feeling alone and that, of course, solidifies the message I received for so many years from my partners and friends and even family, at times, that I’m always too much and that makes me hard to be with.
I’m scared even writing that, because it feels like a risk to be honest about this feeling, but my anxiety tells me that I will always be alone because of the big feelings I have. That I will always feel lonely because no one can handle me at my fullest. That I am vitally flawed and therefore unworthy or incapable of being loved fully.
Being a Highly Sensitive Person (LINK) means that I get to experience the world in high-definition; it’s like everything is in bold. It’s soaring and deep and meaningful and gorgeous and terrifying and sometimes this feels like a gift. I can’t imagine a life where I didn’t notice the immense beauty and intense rawness of the world. A lot of the time though, my propensity for perceiving things and experiencing things in full-on technicolour means that I’m on a different level than other people.
The key thing to this is that feeling more doesn’t mean that I need less; it seems like the opposite, in fact. Feeling more means that I actually need more from the people around me, but I’ve learned that it’s not easy to find people who can meet the needs of someone like me. And thus we return to the belief that I am too much and too hard to love.
So what do I do? Do I give up? Well, that’s virtually impossible for me. Striving is a key component of my life and I try as hard as I can to alleviate this pressure from myself, but I also recognize that it will always be there.
What else can I do? Keep trying, I guess. It’s harder to resign myself to the idea that I should stop trying than it is to continue seeking the love and fulfilment I crave and need. My greatest wish is to find someone who can handle my “muchness.” A person who understands and accepts my ebb and flow; who may not see the world in super high-definition technicolour, but who can marvel at my ability to do so. Someone who cherishes my superpower of super-awareness; a person who appreciates the fact that I can love them more deeply and with more devotion than they could ever imagine.
Do you ever feel like you’re too much? Maybe even just from time to time?
Well, I have room in my life for too much love. I have room in my life for too much appreciation. I can make space for too much-ness because I know how heavy a burden it can be. If I could take a bit of someone else’s “too much” and share some of mine with them, maybe together we would find a better balance and be able to lift each other so that neither of us feels like we can’t be loved as we are.