My Super (Sensitive) Power
By our wonderful associate artist, fabulous actress, and lover of small furry animals, Jess Morley.
My mum and dad have an old home video of 4 year old me watching an anime cartoon version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. If you’ve never seen it, let me tell you now...it is saaaad! My god, it could not be further from the Disney version with the catchy songs and the funny seagull! *SPOILER* Basically the Prince never finds out that it was Marina the mermaid who saved him from drowning. Instead, he falls for another girl who he thinks saved his life. Marina is heart broken. The sea witch says Marina can become a mermaid again if she kills the prince. She tries but can’t and the film ends with a devastated Marina throwing herself off a ship in to the sea. Hauntingly beautiful music plays as her soul ascends to the sky and her little dolphin friend cries out “Marina!” whilst desperately searching for her in the water. See. Bloody dark innit?! That is my earliest memory of feeling an emotion of any kind on such an intense level. I would watch that film over and over again and bawl my eyes out every time. Despite my dad lovingly explaining “it’s okay Jess, it’s only a cartoon isn’t it?”, as the final scene approached I would feel the heavy sadness growing in my stomach. Even now, that scene with the mermaid and the music and the dolphin’s heart wrenching cries of “Marina!” make me instantly sob. I’ve always been a crier, it doesn’t take much. It’s not just typical sad stuff either, oh no. I can be happy, excited, angry, embarrassed, worried, overwhelmed, moved by something...my default reaction is tears. I cry over stupid adverts, films, TV programmes, anything remotely nostalgic, old photos, songs, hugs, kids films, a good soup when I’m ill, old people, music, anything to do with animals, acts of kindness...the list goes on and on. “Happy-sad” stuff that really moves you makes me properly cry. But the weird kind of crying where you have a big beaming smile on your face at the same time. Series like After Life and Derek, Matt Haig’s kids books, anything written by Tom Wells. That lovely heartwarming, gives-you-a-glow-in-your-chest type of thing...oh yeah, I happy-cry lots at that stuff. I cry when I’m angry and I get really frustrated because I feel like my tears completely undermine my anger. I struggle to articulate myself and I get flustered because I’m crying. Something will bother me and I will think about it for days, churn it over in my head until I feel constantly sick about it. And I’m like a sponge when it comes to other people’s emotions. All it takes is someone’s voice cracking, their chin wobbling, or a tear in their eye and I start to feel the sadness in my stomach, the lump in my throat and the tears brimming in my eyes. I get overwhelmed watching the news. These last few months I’ve removed news apps from my phone and have been trying to avoid reading headlines and articles about everything that’s going on lately. It’s just too much. (Emily Coxhead’s ‘The Happy News’ newspaper has been a lovely and much welcomed alternative that I would 100% recommend!) I used to be so embarrassed by my sensitivity, especially when I was younger. I hated that I couldn’t control my emotions and that I cried at everything. I always saw it as a weakness, a negative trait I desperately tried to hide. If I felt that sudden rush of tears prickling my eyes I would run to the bathroom and have a massive cry in private to get it out of my system. I’d later emerge with a red face and sore, bloodshot and puffy eyes that I’d brush off as hay fever. It was exhausting, pretending not to feel so much and hiding how much certain things effected me. Recently I’ve been trying really hard to change my way of thinking. I’m trying to view my sensitivity and empathy as my strengths. My super powers. What an amazing thing it is to feel such intense emotions. To understand how someone else is feeling. To absorb other people’s emotions. The ability to be able to empathise with someone is a beautiful, magic, human thing that sadly not everyone has. This weird time that we’re all living in now has proven that actually, empathy and sensitivity are super powers we need more of in this world. So I’m going to try to not be embarrassed by my super sensitivity any more. I’m going to embrace it and wear it with pride. Like a cape. Like an emotionally available Batman.
And if anyone needed photographic evidence, Jess has kindly provided some...
Thanks for capturing the magic, Elaine & Steve.