Too Much Too Much-ness

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.

xxJ

A flower can never be too much, so I want to be like the flowers…

Keep Fishin’, Keep Swipin’

I’ve had “Keep Fishin’” by Weezer stuck in my head all morning for exactly one particular reason: there’s this seemingly universal analogy that compares fishing to dating. Haven’t we all heard the phrase, “there are plenty of other fish in the sea”? There’s even a dating website called “Plenty of Fish” and in fact, a quick online search tells me that the “more fish in the sea” idiom (or similar iterations of it) dates back as far as the late 1500s, so clearly this is something deeply ingrained in our culture.

I’ve tried to fish a handful of times and only ever caught weeds and rocks, which was both frustrating and highly unsatisfying. After these experiences, I feel like I’m able to understand why we try to console ourselves, both about catching fish and about finding love, by promising that a better catch is just another cast away. Because, as I attempt to meet a partner, I’m metaphorically casting my fishing line out again and again, hoping for a decent catch of some kind. But, to continue with the fishing metaphor, despite the bait I choose, or the way I throw my line, I always seem to end up with an empty hook or a fish so puny that it needs to be thrown back.

And this is my point: there seem to be plenty of single people looking for someone to be with, but few are actually willing or able to do what it takes to make that happen and, in general, they seem to treat other people like a stinky boot they just pulled out of the water.

Why are we all making each other feel like shit when we should be trying to make each other feel more connected? I mean, you want to be happy, I want to be happy; you want to connect, I want to connect… There’s no way to get to know someone without having a conversation. And just because it may turn out that we’re not compatible as a couple, it doesn’t mean that we should be dicks to each other.

Dating pokes at all my insecurities; in fact, it puts them all on high-alert. That’s because dating is, at its core, an exercise of making yourself vulnerable over and over again. And when you come from a history of abuse, you’re far more tender and raw than people who haven’t. It’s so much harder to allow yourself to be vulnerable when you come from relationship trauma and the sting of rejection, or betrayal, or even just a perceived threat or slight, is far more potent than it would be otherwise.

I actually loathe the expression “there are plenty of other fish in the sea”. No, seriously; I hate hearing it. (And I hate that this stupid Weezer song is stuck in my head, pounding its catchy pop hook against my brain.) When someone says that to me, I feel like I’m being consoled as a 17-year-old who’s crying after a breakup. Except that at 17, you knew (c’mon, you did know!) that your relationship probably wasn’t going to be “the one” because breakups are part of growing up and we pretty much all go through them in our younger years.

The difference between those breakups and breakups now is that the ones in our youth came with a promise: that you would move on and meet someone better and not feel sad for very long. At that age, most of our friends were going through the same shit and most of them were living lives that pretty closely resembled ours, so you didn’t feel alone and you had plenty of opportunities to meet someone new at school or the mall or wherever.

As you get older, finding love gets a lot harder, and I say that as a person in their early thirties, so I can just imagine that it will become exponentially harder if I stay single into my 40s or beyond. But it also feels like if I have baggage like a history of abuse, a shitty ex-partner,  or a dependence on psychiatric meds to keep me stable, then other people my age must have similar experiences that could help them be compassionate. I accept that these are not the things that we should put in the front window of our dating storefront displays, but I also feel like it’s these experiences that have likely led us to be single, so shouldn’t there be some understanding?

Why not be kinder to each other as we float around in the dating ocean? Let’s allow our fishing lines to get tangled, even if only briefly, and then carefully unwind them with decent behaviour and a shred of integrity. There’s enough trash in the world’s oceans; why add more shit to the pile?

As I wade back into the waters of 21st century courtship, I think I’ll adjust Weezer’s lyrics to reflect our modern times and my own experience…sing it with me, people:

“Oh yeah when they keep ghosting you
keep swipin’ cause they’re not for you
there’s nothin’ much that we can do
to save us from ourselves.”

xxJ