Highly Sensitive Refuge
Poem for highly sensitive people

A Poem for Highly Sensitive People

Every highly sensitive person has felt misunderstood. Although highly sensitive people make up 15 to 20 percent of the population, they’re often put down as fragile or being “too” sensitive. As a result, many highly sensitive people (HSPs) are made to feel like they’re broken. And they often find understanding not in the people around them, but in art and poetry.

But highly sensitive people are not broken — they are gifted. And they are at their strongest and happiest when they dig into that gift and own it, embracing their highly sensitive nature.

This poem by highly sensitive poet Leah Cox digs deep into that experience: the pain, the shaming, and the triumph of being highly sensitive. It’s the first poem we’ve run on Highly Sensitive Refuge, and if you’re highly sensitive yourself, I think you’re going to relate. — Andre Sólo, editor

Not a Defect

Leah Cox

I was nineteen and in my first year of college.
This was the end of just another night.
The door of my little single room closed behind me and
locked in the safety of its walls
I slumped, slowly
to the floor
and sobbed.
When there was nothing left
but a dry crust of salt around my eyes
I slept, exhausted
from another day confused by life
and my place within it I couldn’t seem to find.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I’d gone along, as I always did
to the club where ‘everyone went.’
Awkward, I stood
with a drink in my hand I didn’t want
but too afraid to be without the comfort of something,
anything,
to hold on to;
as if that glass might somehow save me from the night.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Too much noise.
Too many people.
I didn’t dare dance.
But still,
I stood
and smiled
and nodded in false understanding when someone screamed something in my ear.
Ears that would later ring out into the empty night.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
My tears were ones of confusion, self-loathing
and anger at life.
I had never been told,
I had never learned
that my high sensitivity was not a defect
but a divine gift
that
when properly understood
could be used for unimaginable good.
Indeed,
I had never even known my sensitivity as sensitivity;
only this pervasive sadness
and feeling of being
wrong.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
A decade more would need to pass before,
finally,
I would begin to understand
and I would learn
slowly, slowly
to give myself the permission others hadn’t known to offer
that it was ok
and also desirable
to be myself.
To love the quiet
and the solitude
and the hours of reflection and seeking
always wanting to go deeper into this mystery of life.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I have only ever longed
to be myself
and to share the world as I see and feel it
extending a hand as I travel to all those who are yet to know
that their high sensitivity is not a defect
but a divine gift
that
when properly understood
can be used for unimaginable good.

Leah Cox is a writer, poet and teacher focusing on themes of sensitivity, healing, awakening, creativity and following the call of your heart. Click here to read more of her work.

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