The Loneliness Of Not Being Seen In All Of Your Multitudes

There is a deep satisfaction in being understood. Being truly seen. Receiving an authentic response from someone who has heard, grasped, and appreciated your particular, unique voice. Your multidimensional, nuanced, unusual thinking, feeling, and knowing. It can bring me to tears when I experience being met in this way. Surely, we all need this.

But what if your particular voice plays melodies at levels many people do not have the capacity to hear? What if your exceptional mind thinks at depths where many people can not dive or sees technicolor visions when others see black, white, and occasional grays?

(photo by alexander zavala, Unsplash)

What then?

Well. You may often feel misunderstood, criticized, or rejected. And yet. It may be that friends, family, and coworkers do not intentionally want to misunderstand or reject you. It may be that their capacity to receive all of who you are is limited. Some would say the difference is, in fact, neurological. I do not know the brain science. But I speculate: Perhaps you have more neurons firing in more regions of your brain more often, or more synapses connecting more quickly. Perhaps the particular version of neurodiversity for the gifted, rainforest-minded brain, is an extraordinarily awake, alive, dynamic, and intricately interconnected superhighway. Or, as we say here, a lush, fertile, bountiful, prolific, teeming rainforest.

You may not realize that others have less capacity and that they may only be able to see certain parts of you. But knowing this can explain a lot. It can explain the blank stares. The misinterpretations. The inaccurate assumptions. Sadly, you may never feel completely seen by anyone. Or completely met. Or completely understood. Now you know, this is not your fault. It is no one’s fault.

Think about it. How can anyone truly fathom the entire rainforest?

How, then, do you find others who also see all of the colors, hear all of the notes, feel the range of emotions you feel so that you might be seen, met, understood? And if you have been looking for a long time and not found them, have you interpreted this to mean you are crazy, wrong, or neurotic?

Well. You are not crazy, wrong, or neurotic.

OK, you may be a little neurotic. (I certainly am.) This is where a little therapy can help. But you are not wrong. Or crazy.

Seriously, the more gifted you are, the harder all of this will be. It seems that planet earth has not created a whole lot of rainforest-minded souls yet. And, most unfortunately, even if you find one, all rainforest minds do not necessarily grok each other.

I am guessing this explanation is not helping you feel better.

Truth be told, when I meet with clients, I do not understand every single part of them. And I have years of training and experience. But, as I have stated on frequent occasions, my giftedness is somewhere between barely and somewhat. On a good day. So my clients’ intellectual capacities are usually more vast, more melodic, and more technicolor than mine.

I am guessing this is not good news either.

But, how about this: I am proof that you can still find someone who gets you, enough. Someone who loves your melodies, depths, and visions. Who is not intimidated or overwhelmed by your intellectual musings and speedy, analytical, intuitive observations. Who embraces your enormous heart and your lonely despair. Who acknowledges your exhaustion and needs in spite of your accomplishments. Who loves you for you.

And, in the meantime, what if YOU truly see YOURSELF in all of your multitudes.

What if, starting today, you love you for you.

_______________________________

To my bloggEEs: Does this information help you understand the differences in capacity so you are not so hard on yourself and misinterpreting some of your difficulty with relationships? What are you doing to better understand and love yourself? And, yep, I am sending you some big love. Right now! Thank you, as always, for being here.


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Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label “gifted” is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rainforest to describe this population. Like the rainforest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They’re also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I’ve been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists, was released in June 2019.

28 responses to “The Loneliness Of Not Being Seen In All Of Your Multitudes”

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  1. M. J. Cuthbertson Avatar
    M. J. Cuthbertson

    We are stuck in our own heads and fail to imagine the possibility that others stuck in their own head have variations beyond what we’ve imagined within ourselves. That’s what came to me a couple of hours after I read the very first article I’d discovered on being 2E and recognizing myself in its description.

    I understood other people had opinions which differed from mine. They had likes I didn’t share. They had ideas I’d not thought about. They had skills I never possessed. A few days later after reading everything I could find on 2E I understood how deeply stuck in my own head I’d always lived. Reading about giftedness, 2e, and RFMs I learned of variations beyond anything I’d ever imagined. These variations being qualitatively different from not sharing the same favorite color.

    Immediately I knew that if I had been stuck in my own head it was likely everyone I had ever met was stuck in their own head. Which I understood meant it didn’t matter how well someone listened, or how many stories I’d shared as a way of explaining myself, or how articulate a description, if this other person were stuck in their head, as I had been, there was never going to be the connection I’d hoped for. The other person was never going to imagine that my unique brain wiring was such a wide variation from their own. They simply can’t imagine such a difference exists until they are shown it exists.

    The one person I met in my life that came closest to understanding me recognized this concept years earlier, but neither one of us knew about 2E or grasped the deeper portion of what she was saying. Almost from the outset of our meeting she teased me, “How did you do that? Nobody does it that way.” It was always funny and very sweet. It meant, my unconventional solutions to mundane or complex problems we’re equal parts unexpected and unique. Ultimately, it said we need to get out of our own heads and find people willing to do the same. Understanding our uniquely wired brains and other’s uniquely wired brains requires imagination beyond our own head.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      What you are describing here, M.J., is typical of the 2e person, not necessarily the general RFM. Possibly someone on the autism spectrum. Right? That said, it’s a very important discovery when you are 2e. I know you have written that here, I’m just emphasizing that point. I don’t write much about 2e experiences so appreciate your comment!


      1. M. J. Cuthbertson Avatar
        M. J. Cuthbertson

        Absolutely correct. Along with being somewhere on the autism spectrum, also three or four “Dys-” problems (lexia, calculia, graphia, etc.) and two or three other things that are difficult to reverse engineer 4 decades after the fact. Each of them now hidden by brain maturation or ingrained adaptations or both.

        Depending on the mixture of giftedness and problems 2Es, such as myself, can be highly adaptable. When I discovered my very young age mates and the adults we’re not especially fond of how my unique brain wiring communicated, I began translating. As a result I was easily able to translate from my direct brain output to culturally & socially acceptable normal wiring brain communication all my life. Of course that creates the dilemma of not a single one of those people with whom I communicate by translating having the vaguest clue of who I am. And that returns to the central topic on which you wrote.


  2. Artie Avatar
    Artie

    Hello, Paula. Glad to read a new entry. Looking forward to reading the comments. Itssue42, you sent me a hug and I send you a big one from Venezuela. Hope to see you again.

    Since I’m new in this blog I have yet to catch up to all the meaning behind rainforest minds. From what I have read, however, it’s quite easy to imagine that, these intense and kind souls are perhaps full of bruises, scars, loneliness and all the pain that comes from feeling everything so very deeply.

    The feeling I’m most familiar with is pain. My reflection about that and for this entry comes from a song. Basically, we live our lives surrounded by people, therefore we can’t avoid developing feelings about them. The thing is, like most things, people come a go. We can live with them but we live our whole lives with ourselves. People abandon us, sometimes they die and it’s not their fault. But we are forever tied to our thoughts, our opinions and our feelings. Our bodies and minds are really the only things that accompany us from the moment we are born to the moment we die.

    Pain, I bet you feel it so intensely that it numbs you. We all develop coping mechanisms with enough experience. The song names one of them: Follow your own scars, your pain is telling you something, sometimes it gets too loud the more you ignore it. Talk to it, ask it why is being so loud, listen to what it has to said and if it’s reasonable, then try to do what it’s telling you, as long as it doesn’t mean hurting someone else, but quelling your sadness and anger.

    I’m in my mid-twenties, life can get really hard. I think that I may be a rainforest mind, I feel so mirrored in the people around here it’s shocking.

    It seems my interpretation of the song is like your saying, Paula: Knowing ourselves in all our multitudes.

    I didn’t write the name of the song because it’s kind of embarrasing, but do not mind telling if asked.

    Thank you. Sending big love to all of you too.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I hope being here and understanding more your rainforest mind will help with some of the pain, Artie. I’m glad to know my blog is reaching you in Venezuela!


  3. Artie Avatar
    Artie

    Yes, helping a lot! Of course, I need to do my own part in that as well.


  4. clignett Avatar
    clignett

    I need to breed and ponder about this one for a bit longer, I’m afraid. I’ve read it twice, all the (helpful comments as well, also twice), but something in me stays silent.. so many thoughts, feelings, memories are flooding right now, so I’ll need a bit more time to follow them and see where they lead me.

    But the one thing that I can respond with an absolute YES to, is the fact that we all need to love ourselves for who we are, no matter what. Even though we’re not all the same variety of RFM, even though people don’t always get us, as long as we get us. And never, ever, question your gut feeling. It is always right, even if you discovered it after so many years, there is a point where you realize that the gut feeling you had in the beginning was spot on.. even though you ignored it, or made up excuses for it, it was always there. Of course it could have saved you from (a lot of) pain and heartache, but then again I also believe in the universe (rainforest) trying to help us, teach us and show us why we have to believe… and keep on believing, foremost in ourselves.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Take your time, clignett. <3


    2. renovatio06 Avatar
      renovatio06

      Trusting my intuition and taking seriously what it showed me was a period of personal evolution that took a while and … not the smallest amount of courage, too, dare I say, clignett. Guess, I feel you there.

      And yes, I often also need two or more passes of something until I’ve identified all the complex layers therein, which sometimes –in other people than Paula – aren’t even seen by the ones issueing them. Happened again just the other day when familiarizing myself with a musical analysis of where the industry of composing for film and media stands and the particular commenter talking about the likes of Hans Zimmer, John Williams and such.

      As far as the pain and heartache is concerned: Afraid I’m not so sure that following my gut would or even _could_ have saved me from said pain, rather on the contrary. I guess, I was a bit like your male version of … I’m not sure, was it Rita Hayworth or Audrey Hepburn that said they wanted to feel _everything_? Something like that. And likening myself to them in the sense that I’d have rather felt it all than evaded having the experience, almost like deliberately “burning” myself (minus the “getting burnt” part, if you know what I mean 😉 )


    3. Greg Avatar
      Greg

      Thanks for this. So many times I will look back at a journal entry from a year or so back and see that I had already intuited the situation that maybe just occurred recently. I want to give everyone the benefit if the doubt. I leave things open too long when my initial judgement is almost always correct.


  5. Joy in HK Avatar
    Joy in HK

    Bingo!

    I have found it’s best not to dwell on that missing component and instead indulge myself in all the wonders of life that’s all around us. I am sure it depends on many factors, but, for some of us, focussing on finding that kind of companionship for fulfillment is a losing proposition. When there may be no such person/s, why identify it as loneliness rather than just being alone?
    ***

    Your website required me to use a new account this time? I am sure you recognize me, right?


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Um…not sure. But thanks for being here! 🙂


  6. Marina Berts Avatar
    Marina Berts

    Thank you Paula! You are so right, starting to love ourselves for what we are (truly wonderful, deeply involved, sensitive, insightful…) might be the first step instead of carrying the heavy load of the mirrored (negative?) image that has reached us as RFM. And I agree with clignett, trust your gut feeling, it is always right, even though we can’t explain it rationally. Big hug from Switzerland where Covid-19 restrictions are lifted – hurra!


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hugs back to Switzerland, Marina!


  7. Greg Avatar
    Greg

    The more we think we are exceptional.. different..the more isolated we will feel. Just because I am gifted and feel unheard or unseen doesn’t mean others who are not gifted don’t feel this very same thing.

    We all want to feel loved, seen, heard, accepted, welcomed. Seeing the innocence of this desire in ourselves and others can help foster the sense of connection that may feel severed by the feeling of not being heard deeply. Because what’s more deep, your mental activity around classical music’s connection to brain evolution or your human desire to give and receive love?


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, Greg, of course, we all want to feel seen and loved and that desire connects us. And, yet, the differences in capacity are real. We don’t need to focus on the differences or emphasize them but it helps us have compassion for ourselves and others when we understand what it means to have a rainforest mind and how that can contribute to misunderstandings and miscommunications.


      1. Greg Avatar
        Greg

        For sure. The struggles are real. I feel this often.


  8. Juergen Avatar
    Juergen

    Here’s another example of different perceptions:
    Recently I asked a colleague about the words printed on his pullover. He was surprised and said: He haven’t noticed the words on his pullover. No one would care about them anyway.
    Hm, well…I do 🙂

    Thank you very much for your wonderful blog, Paula!

    Hugs from Germany 🙂


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for the example, Juergen. And for letting us know where you are from! Hugs back to you.


  9. Ian Avatar
    Ian

    I think this is one of the main reasons why I loathe the culture being built around relying on a partner to “be your everything” and having just superficial connections with everyone else.

    It’s an extremely tall order to expect one person to be capable of handling all of my multitudes. It’s much healthier to have a range of people to hang out with and share some, but not all, of my multitudes with each individual, and share different ones with different people. Even being able to share just some of the deeper parts of myself with others can be enough to bring me into, or at least close to, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of a “flow” state. But in practice, such experiences of “belonging” are few and far between, separated by long periods of lacking outlets for sharing most of my multitudes with others.

    “Loving you for you” is definitely something that I need to keep working on, I am still often consumed by self-loathing and mental self-neglect relating to years of being told that many of my multitudes are unacceptable and need to be toned down.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, even for nonRFMs, it is a lot to expect a partner to be the one and only, so imagine for a RFM! And, keep at the self-love process, Ian. It really is the foundation. Thank you for being here.


    2. renovatio06 Avatar
      renovatio06

      I can relate, Ian, as far as “loving you/ourselvs for you/us” – as I was almost systematically and quite brutally trained to do the exact opposite, i.e. _not_ accept my natural authentic self for what and who it is. Until I found it’s simply not only too much work, but inconclusive and futile to even attempt going against your own nature. So it’s an absurd idea, who else would even contemplate such an absurdity? Exactly. Wish I could say it got easier from then on… 😉


  10. Cutestbeautyblog Avatar
    Cutestbeautyblog

    This is super interesting. I’m not gifted, and I’m not just saying that because I’m in denial or anything. I’m really not even that smart. My brother is gifted. I’m the other one. Anyway, my brother has always been sensitive, and he never fit in at his Catholic school, where the nuns rammed conformity down everyone’s throats. He was a creative daydreamer, like tie dye in a sea of maroon and navy plaid. He saw bone and ecru where the other kids saw white, like you said. He never knew why he didn’t fit in. All his life, kids just told him he was “different,” but no one explained how. He was always curious and questioning, and people seemed to resent him for that, which is a shame because if you ask me, the world needs more kind souls and creative deep-thinkers.

    I really like your blog, and I shake my head every time I read it because it’s spot-on in how it describes my brother. Thanks for the work you do.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      What a sweet sister you are! I hope you share this with your brother. Thanks for being here, Cutestbeautyblog!


    2. Marina Berts Avatar
      Marina Berts

      What a wonderful thing to say, Cutestbeautyblog, I wish I had a sister like you!


  11. renovatio06 Avatar
    renovatio06

    “Terminal aloneness” is an expression that stuck with me from reading a blog on PTSD a while back. (and with me possibly erroneously believing then that PTSD was my core problem; about a decade later after finding out, I realize: No, it confounded the situation quite some, but it doesn’t end there…).

    I’ve grabbed every good opportunity in life that I could find or _create_(!) and ran with it (literally from home in the beginning), challenges tantamount and more often than not overwhelming and overpowering any sense of (non-existing) confidence, with the callous rationale being: “I either prevail or… fail [and do something different]”. I was young and compared to now almost delirious with the amount of sense for adventure, short of saying: Daredevilish. (sounds like tooting my own horn, but trust me – it’s not).

    Five decades later, the data is in: It.Simply.Doesn’t.Work. (to have a rainforest or otherwise neurodivergent make) Or didn’t work for me. Sure, I could have been even smarter, more lenient in some critical situations instead of asserting myself, I could have been even more understanding and accommodating with certain people, I could have met _all of them_ not halfway, but two-thirds or all the way. But… ironically – and that’s the blind spot with giftedness, a term I wouldn’t even have even accepted hearing back then.. : I didn’t know of my being different – or “theirs” until much later. It’s only been a few years that I can clearly see where I deviate from the neuro–non-diverse population and in what respects and how I need to alter my approach in communicating (but which will still fail every here and there, like recently with my mobile phone provider, who simply wouldn’t hear that they had effectively shut me out from their services despite my account being saturated with budget and ultimately nulled their services and robbed me of that small amount of positive balance).

    I can only hope that others have had better experiences, at least in part (I mean in general, not referring to that silly mobile provider situation, it hurt, but I’ve simply deleted it from my emotional flowerbed). I did, too – in part, that is, or for a few stretches of the way. But for now, I’d have to concur on your statements “It seems that planet earth has not created a whole lot of rainforest-minded souls yet. And, most unfortunately, even if you find one, all rainforest minds do not necessarily grok each other.
    I am guessing this explanation is not helping you feel better.”

    Maybe not. But seeing that some will try with all their might and even dedicate their own life’s path to it – like you do and did, Paula – is not only a good start. It’s no less but reason for hope that the rainforest-y ones can eventually make other and better acquaintances than with the chainsaw-y ones. That will have to do for now. And it does, I dare say. We’ll all take it from there, shall we? Thank you, Paula! <3


  12. renovatio06 Avatar
    renovatio06

    B.t.w. and on a lighter note: Today’s date is 02-22-2022 😉 (according to the notation in my home country it would be written as 22.02.2022, which is… a palindrom, one that can only occur every odd 1,000 years 😉 )


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    […] First of all, understand that this level of intense personhood is normal for you. Self-understanding and self-acceptance form the foundation of managing your multitudes. […]

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