Friday, October 28, 2011

It's just emotion taking me over

Last weekend, I went to see a great movie called 50/50. I loved it, but I went through  a whole package of pocket-sized tissue.   I know I wasn't the only person in the theater who was crying, but I think I was the only person you could actually HEAR crying. Yes, embarrassing.

This movie tells the story of a young guy who finds out he has cancer and everything he goes through after his diagnoses. It's an exploration of not only what the medical experience is like, but also the social and psychological experiences. We watch what this young man goes through during his cancer treatment--some of it is funny, some serious, some sad. 

I don't know WHY I even go see movies like this because I know I will be transformed into a blubbering fool. Then my eyes get all puffy and my nose gets all stuffy. When I leave the theater,  I have to hold my head down in order not to catch anyone's eye, lest they think something horrible has just happened to me or wonder if I am psychotic and dangerous. 

Well, I admit it's not just these kinds of movies that make me cry. It's commercials and t.v. shows and well, anything with ANY amount of emotion. Stories about animals, children, death, and love especially. I guess that covers most everything. I take it on. Within myself. I absorb it and FEEL it as if I whatever is happening, is happening to me.

This is why I could never become a therapist.

I've been this way my whole life.  When I was little and the family would gather to watch t.v., the theme song for Lassie would start me to weeping.  The minute the song came on, I'd tear up in anticipation of the drama and emotion that was ABOUT to happen.  I'd see Lassie running and I'd start sobbing.

My family said I was "too emotional."  I knew it was upsetting to them when I'd give over to my emotions, but I didn't know how to control them.  I felt bad for being this way.  Like something was wrong with me.

My mom said I was very easy to discipline because all she had to do was give me a disapproving look, and I'd start to cry.

It took a long time to accept this part of myself, but now as an adult, I realize it is not bad or good  to have strong feelings. It's just who I am. We are all different and that's a good thing.  I am a sensitive woman with strong emotions.

But, I've also had to learn how to control those emotions and not let them get the best of me.

I've recently learned that sensitivity and strong feelings of empathy such as mine, are common traits in people who gravitate towards the arts. Which makes total sense. You must strongly identify with others and the world around you to be able to create. 

Scientists are actually studying empathy and people who are "extreme empaths" to determine what makes them so. Turns out it's all about DNA, neurons and brain activity, and the area of the brain that controls this behavior    The study of this area of the brain helps us to understand why some people have more compassion and empathy than others. It also helps to explain why some people have LESS and how this can lead to violent and criminal behavior.

So, I learned that I am unlikely to become a serial killer. This is good information.

Yes, it's tough being a woman of strong emotions. But honestly, now that I'm comfortable in my own skin, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Do you wear your heart on your sleeve?

38 comments:

  1. "But there's no animal that's more faithful, that's more loyal, more loveable than the mutt. Who saw 'Old Yeller?' Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end?" - Bill Murray, Stripes

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  2. Boy, I certainly understand. Don't even show me a Hallmark card commercial!!!

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  3. Like you, Michael Ann, I've cried at the drop of a hat my entire life. While everyone else loved to watch Disney, I avoided it because I knew I'd dissolve in front of my family.

    When I was just two years old my parents went to a drive-in movie. A real treat for them in those days. They expected I'd fall asleep in the backseat, and they could have a quiet night out.

    Then, I watched the cartoon and saw Donald Duck drowning. Drowning!! I wailed so loudly my father drove home. They never did see the movie.

    Guess that empathy is what makes us writers.

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  4. Girl O totally understand I cannot get through certain movies and commercials without blubbering like an idiot. I have learned not to go to the movie theaters to watch movies like 50/50 because I will lose it like big time. For Pete's sake I blubbered like a dumb ass at Toy Story 3 my toddler had to pacify me. What the hell

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  5. I am trying to focus on the question and anything else I thought I was going to say, but now the BeeGees are stuck in my head and won't leave!

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  6. Oh, you cry baby. :-)

    I am too though. I hate hearing that some terrible thing has happened to a child or older person. I guess it bothers me so much because I don't think we take care of our children and elders and protect them enough. In Taiwan, it saddened me to see crippled dogs walking about and they looked so ill. I'm not even a dog or animal person but that gripped at my heart. I do have moments where I can be pretty solid if I have to be for someone else though. Sometimes, anyway.

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  7. From my own reaction, and all the other replies, Kleenex isn't going to be going out of business anytime soon.

    I do think - ideally - we can learn to block that empathy, and get on with life. F'rinstance, when somebody in the family breaks a bone or needs stitches, we cope with that emergency instead of dissolving into a puddle because they must be HURTING so much.

    Frankly, I'm to the point where I don't care if people think I'm crazy in the movies or whatever for crying too much. Let the River Run! :-)

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  8. I also wear my heart on my sleeve Michael Ann, and think there is an honesty and element of personal integrity to those who do. I likes us just the way we is! LOL

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  9. All these comments are so great, and I totally feel like a member of a club now :-) Ok, Andrea had me LOL with the Bee Gees comment. I wondered if anyone would pick up on that. I almost put that video here but decided not to :-) (Even though I do like that song and honestly, it was the real one in my brain while I was writing this!)

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  10. Well, the weird part is, my dad who left when iwas a bit over 1 was a classic sociopath and I honestly believe if it werent for my grandmothers love and MODELLING empathy to me that I woulndt have gotten it since the rest of the time my mom beat me and played head games with me since she is schitzophrenic,so when I lived w?her from 8-17 I NEVER cried or laughed again. It was only in therapy for my ptsd that i started having normal emotions that was originallt put there by the only person who ever loved me,my grandmother. The first movie I ever cried at was GHOST when we rented it-since then I cry TOO much! I can't win! lol ALL I want is for suffering to stop and try to ease that in any way I can.

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  11. My goodness, I feel like this could have been written about me. I cry at everything, even a 5 second segment of compassion or pain, my eyes tear up. It amuses/annoys my husband to no end. I do tend to express anger instead of sadness, when I'm interacting with other people...which probably just makes me look like a complete bitch (not probably) - so working on that. But once I'm home, blubbery mess. Interesting about the brain wiring, too. I definitely love my artsy/craftsy things! Good to know I won't become a serial killer, as well. Thanks for the info

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  12. I hear ya. There's something about movies that bring out the crier in me too. Lassie is one in particular. Anything with dogs.

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  13. I'm not that emotional, but I did love 50:50. Laughed and cried through it.
    -The Spinsterlicious Life

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  14. I was raised by wolves and gypsies and was not allowed to wallow in a puddle of tears. But that didn't stop me from crying a river. Drove my Apache/Latin foremothers over the edge. I never understood how they could be so stoic while I would cry over at television commercial. While I was taught to appreciate the arts it was assumed I wasn't going to be artistic. Aha, a clue to why I am different. Now they shake their heads and make and pray for me and my strange ways. MA- Embrace and nurture this side of you, it's who you were always meant to be.

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  15. Oh yes, me too. You're not alone. And it's totally in the DNA because my oldest is this way as well (which is SO frustrating to watch!). Also, I saw 50/50 last week too and loooooved it. Plus! It's set in Seattle and they only show the space needle once! Sign of a quality movie :)

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  16. Michael Ann, I am also a person of great emotion. I remember as a child sitting in one of my classrooms wondering how I could control my crying problem. No one ever told me I was too emotional. I just decided on my own that I was. I think having empathy is a great thing, but too much of it can be a burden, and I should know. I also cry at commercials. When we lived in Florida, Publix would always run these commercials around holiday time that featured heart wrenching stories, and I would burst into tears. And when I say heart wrenching, probably slightly touching to other people. This is a struggle I continue to have. Honestly, I'd like it if my skin would thicken up a little bit!

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  17. Painfully relatable! You softie, you. ;-)

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  18. How embarasing you sniviling old softy! Well young softy.

    I stopped going to these movies after the hunter shot Bambie's mom!
    I will only watch at home. I hate it when people ask "Are you crying?" I tell them "Yes, and if you make fun of me you will be joining in the tears."

    The CrankyOld(sniff)man

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  19. I have had to wear sunglasses leaving a movie before so I get it. Far better to feel too much than to not feel at all. Even when it hurts sometimes.

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  20. I find it totally fascinating that scientist have found that those who tend to be more emotional are more creative/gravitate to the arts. That is my daughter right there.

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  21. I must go see that movie! My daughter had cancer when she was almost 4 so will be interesting to see how this movie compares to our experiences. I went to see My Sister's Keeper and I was absolutely determined not to cry in the cinema.

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  22. I know what you mean I've been crying more too, guess that happens as we enter menopause, I was crying sewing my kids stuffed animal because I could't thread the darn needle!

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  23. I totally wear my heart on my sleeve... And have strong emotions. I actually don't go to movies that are sad anymore... I do my research and (lovingly) coined these movies back in the late 80's/early 90's as "Bette Midler Movies" - because all her old movies were the first movies where I realized I just wasn't cut out of sad movies!

    I really related to this post! (PS I found you via your comment on Four Plus an Angle about blogging once a week... I too blog only once a week at two different blogs and I just felt compelled to visit another who did the same :) - Glad I did!

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  24. Michael Ann,
    It probably comes as no surprise that I am a woman of strong emotion as well. But my strong emotions also give me the ability to feel the joy that i see others missing sometimes. I hope that is the same for you!

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  25. I LOVED that movie! And I totally sympathize. I cry at pretty much any show that has any sad scene whatsoever!

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  26. I am officially a member of that club! Anything happy, sad, disturbing and I cry. My family is used to it now and my husband always glances over at me during those TV moments to catch me tearing up lol. I think it's a great trait to have, emotion means we feel and care and love and are compassionate people. And yes, I cried during Toy Story 3 too :)

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  27. I am a crier too Michael Ann....And my childhood TV show that always got the tears flowing was, Little House on the Prairie.
    And I own stock in Kleenex...LOL!!

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  28. Yes, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and cry at some movies and even TV shows. But for some reason, I raised two kids who are very stoic. Nothing or very little seems to phase them. Their emotions are closely guarded. Go figure. Nice post!

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  29. I am just like you! Every time I watch a good movie I cry, and I am not an emotional person in real life. I recently watch "love and other drugs" ( I know I am slow) and I was sobbing uncontrollably, my husband was literally laughing at me...

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  30. Michael Ann, I too would weep at the sound of the Lassie theme song! I've never been able to finish Old Yeller and the thought of my father, who passed away last year, is enough to make me weep till my head hurts. My nana called it being in touch with your sense of compassion. I'm glad you'll never change. The world needs more empathetic people. Apathy is taking over the world and that is a sad thought indeed.

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  31. My husband said that me crying when I got off the cruise that we met on was what made him fall in love with me. I bet now that there are a lot of times he wishes I didn't cry so easily. My parents actually told me that I was NOT going to be in charge of whether or not to pull the cord if anyone was ever in the hospital. They gave that job to my sister. It's funny. I really am emotional, but I can appear to be stoic sometimes if the emotion is anger. But, I totally believe the artsy/empath connection. Thanks for stopping by the Sit and Relax hop! Have a great Wednesday!

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  32. I always thought there was something wrong with me; I cannot tell you how relieved I am to find I'm not alone! It's not always comfortable to feel things so deeply, to react so passionately, but that's just the way it is. I've had to come to terms with the fact that many do not always appreciate my reaction, but that's just who I am.

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  33. My WHOLE family is like this! We cry at everything!! It's crazy! :)

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  34. Oh my gosh, I don't check my blog for two days and I come back to find all these wonderful comments! I am overwhelmed by this....and all you wonderful, empathic and sensitive people!!! Uh oh, I think I might cry!

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  35. Love, love, love Steven Tyler. And that's my favorite Aerosmith song. Thanks for following my blog - I'm following back.

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  36. Its a comfort to learn the reasoning behind why some of us are HSP (highly sensitive people) especially if it was criticised during childhood or teenage years or if made to feel it is not a positive or desirable trait.

    My daughter and I both have heightened sensitivity and I was fortunate that someone pointed me towards information about it and I too read about the genetic aspect and also about the importance of the human race having people with these qualities in terms of survival of the species, because HSP pick up threats and dangers before others, they pick up on moods, get feelings about things and such is their empathy they feel the pain of others.

    So congratulations Michael Ann, your sensitivity is important and desirable for humanity, continue to use it wisely and think of those films as being great cleansers :)

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  37. Hi Michael Ann! I'm just catching up on some blogs and I really enjoyed this post. I have always been saddled with the "emotional" label. Yes, I cry at Folgers commercial during the holidays and every episode of Parenthood. But more so, I think I just have a strong reaction to many things -- positive and negative. I used to get very defensive about being called emotional, but like you, I finally embraced it and realized it was part of who I am and the good thing about it is that no one ever really has to wonder what I'm feeling. My fiance actually thinks it's a great thing! But I agree, you still have to learn to reign it in and not let emotions get the best of you. Thanks for the great post!

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  38. This is awesome. I am the SAME EXACT WAY. Usually, I wait until I can rent movies like this and I watch them alone in my own house. The last one I watched was...Blue Valentine. Gosh that made me cry for about three hours and my cat was like, WHAT ARE YOU DOING.

    I'm just glad I'm not alone. :)

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I always appreciate what you have to say and I love to reply personally. Do you have your Google profile set to show your email so I can do that?

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