Male. Highly Sensitive. Introverted. Short. Skinny. Fair. Peculiar.
A certain recipe for exclusion.
Of course, genetics are only half the story; the other half goes to the particular play or narrative that unfolds in the incubator of childhood, in the unique environment of influences that shape our attitudes and behaviour for a lifetime. In other words, nature vs. nurture.
Without an understanding of the influence of the former, which is arguably the primary driver of life, I found myself at the mercy of the latter. Traumatic experiences and parental emotional imbalances led to an environment less than ideal for an infant highly sensitive person. Growing up, teasing was the norm. I recall a time in the distant past when all the children accepted one another despite differences; then, as we matured and grew to know ourselves uniquely in our sexuality and personality, we divided into popular and unpopular.
You can see where this is going. It didn’t help that as a family from an early age we moved several times, including one interstate relocation. Ultimately, bullying took its toll on me as I retreated inward through my teenage years, at one point turning to the Christian faith out of my despair, and then immersing myself in the culture of the Christian church.
Numerous studies suggest that chronic loneliness can be the precursor to illness. My highly sensitive body first succumbed to Irritable Bowel Syndrome at the age of 18, and then to Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 33. Add to that episodes of depression coming and going, and you have a case of a difficult and frustrating life.
In light of this dark history, learning the biological specifics of my genetic history has been a godsend. For what had been a litany of self-blame and low self-esteem, of guilt and judgment, is now explained by the meta-narratives of sensitivity and introversion, the two traits that make up the antithesis of the prized modern male, an archetype of strength, courage, and resilience.
I will never fit that archetype. I will never be an alpha-male. Yet I now know that my unique traits involve gifts that this atypical male can never express. So my journey is now unfolding in the understandings coming from accepting just what and who I am, this unique product of difficult circumstances. I have survived thus far, and am determined to thrive.