“Get a backbone,” he said. And it stung like hot needles in my eyeballs.
That statement reminds me of other intoxicating toxic sentiments such as:
- Stop being so sensitive.
- Toughen up.
- Don’t be so wimpy.
- Get over it.
- Don’t cry.
- and my all time fav – the mother of all mother’s – what’s wrong with you?
It’s been years since he said “get a backbone” to my face, and for lo’ these many years I’ve been upset about it. Maybe by the time I finish this post, I’ll finally make peace with the whole scenario. Time to let it go.
In the meantime, here’s what I’ve learned about this statement and statements like this:
- They say more about the heart and intentions of the person saying them than anything.
- It is an unproductive way to motive someone.
- Sensitivity is a HUGE gift that not everyone needs to understand.
- We all actually have backbones, so it’s a weird thing to say.
- There is a choice about how to deal with incoming missiles of hatred.
- Because of stuff like this, we are better musicians, artists, teachers, healers, and counselors.
- Self acceptance = the shizz for letting everything stupid, unproductive and lame roll off your back bone. (I’m totally not mad about this anymore, can you tell? ha.)
As musicians and artists in the world, it’s actually our job to be sensitive. For example, the person who said this to me is a corporate ladder-climber. That’s cool. But, he doesn’t write music or poetry or care anything about sharing the soft, tender parts of his heart with the world. Also cool. I want him and everyone else to fully embrace the parts of themselves that make life worthwhile. And go do their thing. Go, yo.
I, on the other hand, am super sensitive. I feel my emotions roll in like 12 foot waves, and I cry at the drop of a hat. Out of joy, anger, sadness, or whatever happens to trigger tears. That sensitivity is a gift to the world, and although it won’t mean a hill of beans to some people, it is my call to action and my call to cultivate love in the world.
I could not do the work of helping people with their very precious voices without it. And that matters.
I want to go out on a limb and say everything is a gift, or a gift lies in every experience.
If you are ultra sensitive, I ask you to take one of these statements (cause I know you’ve heard one – or something like it), and unpack it. Write it down and place in on the table before you and notice that it’s just a thought “out there,” and only that. Also (maybe) use your sensitivity super powers to tap into the heart of the person who says hurtful things like this. You’ll be amazed to discover how much they are hurting.
So, don’t get a backbone. You already have one.
And, most importantly, love your gift of sensitivity. We may need it now more than ever.