hypersensitivity, fear of failure, cocktail waitressing, and the making of a therapist…


Hypersensitivity to failure, disapproval, and criticism. I never knew this was a “thing” until I started researching emotions and ADHD. ADDitude magazine describes it like this…

“The emotional response to failure is catastrophic for those with the condition. Perceived criticism and withdrawal of love and respect is just as devastating as the real thing. The term “dysphoria” means “difficult to bear,” and most people with ADHD report that they “can hardly stand it.”  ADHDers are not wimps; disapproval hurts them much more than it hurts neurotypical people.”

I always thought this was something to hide…some sort of character flaw. But no matter how hard I fought, I just couldn’t get past it.

Over the years this hypersensitivity has come at a great cost. For me…it often led to lies.

I hated lying, but I was terrified of disapproval.

As a CPS worker fresh out of college with a toddler and a baby, I failed miserably. I couldn’t keep up with my files, I was emotionally overwhelmed, and would say that I got things done that I hand’t which eventually led to me looking irresponsible and negligent.

Was I?

It was never my intention to hurt or disappoint anyone, but while my heart was in the right place…I couldn’t get my brain to follow.

This has been the story of my life. A huge heart wanting to do and be everything to everyone. Passion that bleeds endlessly but never has the stamina or skills to implement.

So I left CPS quickly with my tail between my legs. At that time I was accepted into the Master’s Program in Counseling, but that was not all…

Cue embarrassing story…

I decided to cocktail waitress and bartend at night to make sure I could pay the bills. I didn’t even know how to make a margarita or the names of any other drink…but that’s what an impulsive spirit running from her hypersensitivity to failure and criticism will do to survive. Just about anything.

I went to grad school and I was successful. Looking back I have no idea how. It must have been the grace of God. There is no other way. Apparently He knew someday my particular take on life and set of experiences would be beneficial to the children who grace my office. To those sweet little souls with unspeakable traumas and behaviors that everyone else misunderstands and sees as ugly. My own mistakes have given me the perspective to see past their messiness into their hearts. Because God did the same for my own.

I feel their pain. I know what it’s like to come undone. To feel like you can’t quite harness up your brain so you can use it. It’s my honor to help them figure out how to take what they have – though it may be little – and rock it.

And I sit here tonight with my intellectually disabled son napping by my side, my ADD daughter (who didn’t fall even a centimeter from the tree) crafting her little artsy heart away, and my amazing husband cleaning the kitchen because he knows cleaning just isn’t my thing. I am blessed beyond measure. I have found what it takes for me to be able to slow my brain down enough that I can keep up with things like files and notes so that the part of my practice I excel at (loving people) can be successful. I am still sensitive. I still want people to like and approve of me. But I know if they don’t, it doesn’t define me. I have learned to handle rejection and that it really is okay to mess up sometimes and just be human. And above all, with Jesus I continue to find that not matter what, it is well with my soul.



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