It was a song that used to be one of my favorites back in my single days, and it had been my mantra many times after a devastating break up. I’d long since forgotten it, but at the time, I would belt out the lyrics at the top of my lungs (often with tears rolling down my face) whenever I was driving and it came on the radio. It just described me and my love situation over and over again.
The song was Insensitive by Jann Arden, and if anyone seemed to get what I was going through, it was her. I just knew that she’d been through it herself once or twice and knew all too well exactly what it felt like.
You may not know the song, since she was a Canadian singer (it may just have been popular in Canada at the time), but the line that really got me was “I thought that you might have some advice to give, on how to be insensitive”.
So I found myself singing it out loud once again, only this time it was very different. Now I really get what I just didn’t get back then. That there wasn’t anything wrong with me.
I wasn’t too sensitive, and I certainly didn’t need a lesson in being insensitive. It was that he wasn’t sensitive enough to be with me! Or, to put it a different way, I just needed to be with someone who was sensitive to my needs, and if the guy I was with wasn’t, then he wasn’t the right guy for me.
But I didn’t get that at the time. Or even for a long time after. I just thought I was too soft, and I needed to toughen up. That I needed to be different than I was.
Of course, while I’m sure that Jann Arden wasn’t really looking to become insensitive, unfortunately for so many of us, this is exactly what happens. After one too many heartbreaks, we become cynical, insensitive, even bitter. And our hearts get hardened.
Head over Heels
It starts off innocently enough. We meet a guy, the sparks start flying, and before we know it, we’re in way over our heads. Who can resist that kind of chemistry? The next thing we know, we can’t think of anything but him; he’s everything we've ever wanted in a guy. But the truth is, we’re so attracted to the idea of him that we haven’t had a chance to get to know the actual him!
You know what I’m talking about. He’s got that way about him; we can’t quite describe it, but it’s something about the way he carries himself, the ways he exudes that confidence, that charisma, that magnetism that draws us to him and makes us feel so special just because we're with him. We feel worthy. Chosen.
And we’re finally able to prove to everyone (and to ourselves) that we really matter. That we really can get someone to love us. That we’re loveable.
He tells us everything we want to hear. He takes us places we’ve never been before. It’s exciting.
But then, after a while, we find that we’re left a little wanting when we’re with him. We’re not sure what’s going on, wondering where things are going, feeling a bit insecure. We just haven’t connected the dots to see that it’s because we’re drifting far from our true selves again. For a guy. Again.
But we keep our head in the clouds and we don’t see anything, except that this guy has made us feel alive like we’ve never felt before, and we’re just not ready to give that up yet. We just want to keep believing that this time it will turn out differently.
Until it finally comes crashing down around us and we find ourselves back in the land of reality checks where we’re forced to acknowledge the truth, what it really was (and wasn’t), and how it really was the same thing all over again.
And that’s when it happens.
A Hardened Heart
It hurts so bad that you resolve to never let yourself feel that strongly ever again. That fragile, blown glass heart of yours that’s been shattered and pieced back together again too many times starts to become harder. Tougher.
But there’s good news.
This time, there’s one thing that’s different. You’ve got me. I’m here.
And I’m here to tell you what I was fortunate enough to have some very special people tell me right when I needed to hear it the most; the words that saved my own fragile heart from becoming hardened:
There’s nothing wrong with you.
Sweet, tender, soft, loving, sensitive you.
He just wasn’t the right guy for you. He’s not a bad guy but he’s not the one for you. No matter how much you wanted him to be. He’s not.
All those feelings you had, all those wonderful times you shared, they were real. To you. And maybe to him, too. But the reality is, he didn’t have it in him to give you the respect, the attention, the sensitivity, the love that you truly deserve! The stuff that real, loving, equal relationships are made of. And it doesn’t matter why. It doesn’t matter what is or isn’t going on for him. It won’t change a thing.
So after you’ve had your cry, called your friends whose silence or comments only make you feel worse, spent your days in bed not wanting to get out, played every one of your favorite break-up songs, and gone over every possible scenario of what happened and how you could have done things differently to keep the relationship going, it’s time to hear what I’ve got to say.
You are beautiful, you are worthy of true love, and you are wonderful.
And you aren’t too sensitive.
Please don’t ever become hard. Please don’t ever become bitter. And please don’t ever become insensitive.
That’s no way to live. For anyone. And especially not for you.
So embrace your sensitive you. Embrace your tender, soft heart that just wants to love someone and be loved back. Embrace that sweet romantic self that, however naïve it may seem, just wants to believe in true love. In what he said. In what he told you. In how you thought it was between the two of you.
Because when you love like that, it can hurt. There might be heartbreak. But that’s the kind of love that reminds you you’re truly alive.
You feel, deeply. You sense, wholly. You believe, completely.
And don’t change a thing about those qualities. Because you will meet that guy who’s been looking for a sweet, tender, soft, loving, sensitive woman like you his whole life, too, and those beautiful qualities you hold will not be lost on him, but will be cherished as the gifts of love they truly are when they're shared with the right person.
And I can guarantee he won’t have anything to teach you about being insensitive.