Highly Sensitive children are prone to being parentified, as they are compassionate, warm, over-forgiving, and have an abundance of empathy.
I’ve since come to understand that I never learned boundaries and self-care as a kid and the chaotic environment I grew up in was not ideal.
My mother constantly invalidated me and projected her problems onto me. I also didn’t receive much praise and was overly criticized or compared negatively to peers – all this on top of being parentified. I was often told that I was “too sensitive”. This, as well as moving a lot and losing my dad twice— once through divorce and again through death— made life stressful.
I suspect that my mother was a workaholic (many ACOAs develop some type of addiction, even if it’s not alcohol or drugs). Every day her emotions would change.
One day she was happy, the next angry or frustrated, the third distracted or spaced out. Being a HSP without knowing it at the time, I could sense nuances in her tone, body language, or facial expression.
I couldn’t tell if she would be upset or not that day, so it was confusing. There was no warmth, no communication, or explanation of why she felt a certain way, so it left me thinking it was all my fault.
Highly Sensitive (HS) children are highly affected by their environments, relationships, and emotions. Thus, if they are raised in violent, abusive, neglectful, and traumatic families, they are prone to depression, anxiety, addictions, and even suicide, not to mention chronic health issues.
These include chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia, and other long term-stress induced illnesses. This is due to the overreaction of the stress response system and the decrease of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
If HS children are raised in an unconditionally loving, warm, safe environment, they will thrive more so than non-HS children. These children are less likely to have chronic health issues or mental illnesses.
Of course, not all HSPs are the same. They each have their own personality, their own experiences, and interests.
When it comes to my trait, I’m on the fence. I hate that I’m chronically ill but, of course, I’m stuck with it. I hate having to sleep so much, being around people who are emotional vampires drains me, and I wish I didn’t get overstimulated. There’s also the fact I’m always the giver in relationships and I never receive what I put in.
That being said, it’s all about boundaries, something I’m learning how to set. When I’m interacting with my mother, I try to use the grey rock method (a method that doesn’t allow a narcissist into your head), or else, I simply zone out. I often do the latter, as I’ve done for the majority of the time I have known her. You can never confront an emotionally immature person because they can’t self-reflect or empathize.
Being a HSP, I find it hard to make friends who get me. I don’t really socialize and with the pandemic, it’s been difficult. However, on the whole, I like that I’ve always been a good listener and people seem to enjoy being around me.