For as long as i can remember, I will sometimes be overcome by this strong emotion of longing inside. It is difficult to explain.
It will come on strong sometimes, like a wave. The best I can describe it is as a deep yearning or mourning for something which I have no knowledge of yet.
As though there is a place unvisited. An experience un-had. Or a person un-met. It’s like I’m missing something, but I don’t know what.
The feeling is always there in me, laying dormant, but it is intense when it takes hold. There is always a sense of sorrow intertwined with the longing. It can be overwhelming.
I was alone at home this morning. My children had just left for school. The house was quiet and comfortable.
Just me and the dog. She was sleeping in the middle of the living room, stretched out and snoring, and I was relaxing in a chair with a cup of tea.
The sun was streaming through the window, warming my legs. I had no obligations or appointments for the day ahead. Perfect.
But as I sat, I could feel that familiar wave of emotion build up in me. I could feel the wistful sorrow rise and wash over me. I found myself staring out the window with tears in my eyes, unable to do anything but feel.
I am never sure why it comes. This morning I tried to pinpoint it. Was it the song I was listening to? Was it the feel of the house? Were there stresses on my mind which had brought it on? Was it tiredness?
I had no solid answers.
I looked around and my impulse was to berate myself for feeling this way. I was baffled. When I looked at the scene around me, it was one of contentment.
The feelings of longing inside me did not match the scene.
I felt almost shameful for feeling such a strong sense of inexplicable longing when I was surrounded by things which should make me feel peaceful.
This longing is nothing new to me. It has come over me from time to time, my whole life. And I have also usually felt confusion and a sense of shame for feeling it.
Many times in the past, I listened to the shame, and responded negatively to the longing. I tried to ignore it and push it aside.
Deep down inside, I always knew that this unexplainable longing was not something that would be considered “normal”. My instinct was to hide it.
As I matured from child into adult, it became an unspoken feeling inside me. It became a weight I would carry and experience alone. Unexpressed, and usually suppressed and ignored.
Further descriptions of the word explain that Sehnsucht is an emotion which contains a variety of contrasts. It has been described as a deep craving for, or a kind of intense missing of something.
It runs deeper than surface emotions. It is most often spoken about as being something for which there is no satisfactory description.
Sehnsucht is a compound word. It originates from das Sehnen (an ardent longing or yearning) and das Siechtum (a long or lingering illness, an addiction). However, even put together, these words do not capture the full essence of sehnsucht as an emotion.
As I have gotten older, I am less able, or perhaps less willing to suppress the emotions which run through my body. My highly sensitive nature is a part of me. It IS me.
I know now that the best way for me to approach life is by being authentic to myself.
In my drive for authenticity, I have become more conscious of the emotions I feel in the moment. I do not want to shove them down anymore.
Each emotion needs room to breathe, and to have existence that is authentic to itself.
Sehnsucht is a mix of emotions which need permission to have this breathing room. I may not understand why the emotion is there, but that doesn’t mean it should be shoved aside.
It needs to be there. It needs you to feel it and explore it.
This morning when the longing hit, I allowed it to be there. I felt it rise, and instead of telling myself how nonsensical it was, I let it wash over me. I did not listen to the impulse to push it aside.
I looked at that scene around me, a scene of peace and contentment. I recognized it for what it was…but I still let myself feel the feelings inside.
I played a song on repeat. I closed my eyes and listened to the words.
The window in my living room was open. I breathed in the pungent scent of autumn leaves and felt the crisp breeze blow gently against my skin. I watched fine particles of dust float lazily, like glitter in the sunbeams.
I looked out the window into the front yard, and watched the now-bare branches of the trees sway subtly back and forth. Black skeleton silhouettes against bright blue sky.
And I really felt the craving inside for those things I will never know. It welled up and took hold for a moment. I let my tears flow as an expression of this longing which I might never resolve, because I don’t know what the longing desires.
In the end, the resolution of this emotion now doesn’t matter to me as much as the expression of it. The tears came, the emotion flowed through and I gave myself permission to feel it.
My emotions are similar to me, as a highly sensitive person. They need acknowledgement for who they are, and they are healthiest when they are allowed to be what they are, also.
Image Credit: ian svendsplass
A bend in the road led me to embrace my introversion, and to discover my identity as a highly sensitive person. As I have moved along the path in learning more about who I am, how to take care of myself as an introvert, and how to handle the challenges of life as an HSP - my love of writing has been rekindled and embraced once again. It intertwines with the journey I am on, and is reflected in what I write.