When I was a kid, I don’t remember how old, I was watching TV and a cartoon with a unicorn came on. I only saw a snippet of it, but there was this unicorn who just found out she was the last unicorn. She is distressed by this news and begins a journey to find the others. I didn’t see more than that, I had to go to the dentist or something. But I never forgot that small scene. I felt immediately drawn to this non-humanoid character who wanted to find others like her. Much of my life, I felt like I was searching for someone who understood me. I didn’t know what that would look like, but I thought somewhere there must be someone who thinks like me. I had a deep desire to share my innermost thoughts and to have those thoughts be understood by someone else.
I didn’t search in vain. It wasn’t until high school that I found a kindred spirit, but it was worth the wait. I’ll call her L. She usually calls herself that anyway. We’re still friends. We were brought together by dragons, drawings of dragons that is. She had a sketchbook and she was always drawing in it. She never felt the need to hide it and so I knew that here was someone I could talk to. She probably didn’t know right away about me. I hid myself pretty well. One wouldn’t know by looking at me that I was a fairy, dragon, and unicorn sort of girl. I asked her about her drawings and she started telling me stories.
The energy that came from this friendship was extremely valuable. Our shared interest in stories, especially those involving magic, brought out more creativity in me than I ever thought possible. We fed off of each other’s imaginations and became inseparable. In fact, it was in a conversation with her that I mentioned my memory of that unicorn and she knew exactly what I was talking about. While wandering the aisles of Blockbuster Video, we found the movie, The Last Unicorn. We shared the joy of finding a long lost treasure from childhood. Later, while watching the movie, we marveled at the crude animation, the beautiful music (though not always well-sung), and my imagination flew. It was that moment when I came up with the main character of my current work in progress and with the idea for the story. The movie was based on the book “The Last Unicorn” by Peter Beagle. It’s now one of my favorite books. After coming up with that one story, my mind didn’t know how to stop. I came up with two sequels as well as several other novel-length stories that played in my head while I was supposed to be paying attention in English class.
Without that friendship, I don’t believe that I would have come up with those stories and I don’t think I ever would have started writing them down. L refused to let me just tell her my stories, I had to write them. I didn’t want to write. I hated writing and I wasn’t any good at it. I’d rather just tell them. But she was stubborn.
She was my only close friend in high school and I felt that was all I needed. For me it was always about quality rather than quantity. I knew I would feel content with just one person I could really talk to. Our lives have drifted us apart through the years. She lives in another state and jobs and kids keep us busy. Regardless, we still manage to keep in touch, even though we are both terrible at keeping in touch. It doesn’t matter, though. We still share our love for stories involving dragons and encourage each other in our writing.
I’ve had some other friendships that were close and filled me with energy and sparked my imagination. These people always come and go as life interferes. It used to bother me when people would come and go, but I’ve learned to accept it. When someone parts, I wait for another to come and inspire me in a different way. For a long time, I just assumed people wouldn’t understand me. When I met a new person, I could tell within a few minutes whether they were a kindred spirit. But life has shown me that I’m often wrong. Sometimes the people I think I’ll never be friends with, are the people I need at that moment in my life.
I realized, after finding out about The Highly Sensitive Person and reading Elaine Aron’s book, that my search was for another HSP. Who else could understand me except another who felt misunderstood in the same way? My therapist, who first told me I was HSP, said that it’s like coming up for air. When you’re on a completely different wavelength than everyone else, all of a sudden someone comes along and it’s harmony. That’s what she told me, anyway. I think she said that because it’s what happened to her. When she met her husband, another HSP, he read her like a book. I’ve never had that happen to me. L and I had common interest and a wonderful friendship, but she wasn’t an HSP.
So I can’t help but wonder what that feels like, to really resonate with someone at that level. If not even my closest friendships involved another HSP, and those were really good friendships, what would it feel like to know another HSP? Is it really that important?
My husband is also another close friendship. He and I immediately “clicked” and had an easy and natural romantic relationship that led to marriage. He’s not an HSP either. Are there times when I feel he doesn’t understand me? Oh, yes. My therapist encouraged me to help him understand, but I sometimes don’t know how.
My therapist told me it was important for me to have at least one HSP in my life. I need at least one person who understands that part of me. That’s nice, but how? It’s not as though people walk around with a sign on their foreheads. Even when I do meet other HSP’s, and since learning about it, I’ve met 3 not counting my therapist, it’s not like I can just go up to them and say, “You’re an HSP? Me too! Let’s be friends forever and ever!” Making friends is one of the main struggles of an HSP. I feel socially awkward. Not to mention, I tend to overthink things. I’ll think about emailing someone, then wonder if they even want to hear from me. Maybe I’m interrupting them. Maybe they’ll think I’m crazy or weird. Maybe they’re too busy to read my email much less respond to it. Maybe they don’t have time for me. I don’t want to bother anyone. What if they’re annoyed that I deigned to presume a friendship of any kind with them? After all those maybes and what ifs, I’m too exhausted to even open a blank email page. Not to mention the fact that every sentence I write comes with a similar flood of maybes.
So now I wonder why the Last Unicorn even bothered leaving her forest. She didn’t know she was the only one. Why leave the comfort of her own home to go on a perilous journey where she would encounter many difficult things, including becoming something she wasn’t? What is it that drove her? And the answer, of course, is loneliness. A person might do just about anything to avoid being lonely. That has been a great struggle for me. Desiring very much to have meaningful relationships with others, but lacking the skills.