The French word sensible means sensitive, not sensible; sensible/sensible and sensibilité/sensibility are examples of faux-amis (literally, “false friends”) — they look alike but mean very different things. On the other hand, thérapie/therapy are vrais-amis (“true friends”), or words spelled alike with the same or similar meanings.* As the year draws to a close, il est naturel to look back, to look ahead, and to reflect…a process that causes my own sensibilité (and my need for la thérapie) to surface.
First, la sensibilité. While others seldom accuse me of being too sensible, many feel the need to point out my (over-)sensitive nature. Through the years, I’ve worked hard to reduce the “over-” part, at the same time not wishing to lose the “sensible/sensitive” part, or to slide into insensitivity. I’m an emotional person, and while some in my family are, too, some aren’t. They’re the tough ones, the ones who find it
easy easier to compartmentalize, to bypass the drama, to keep cool. To move on, confidently — or at least, to seem to.
By contrast, I’m more likely to live by these words in a song by Joan Armatrading**:
Show some emotion
Put expression in your life
Light up, if you’re feeling happy
But if it’s bad then let those tears roll down
Does emotion, and la sensibilité reside in the heart or the head? Jenny, le personnage principal in my new novel MAKE THAT DEUX, considers this question, and I won’t say what she decides. But two years ago, after an extremely talented neurosurgeon at Duke skillfully removed a tumor in the center of my son’s brain, I read that some doctors believe the area is connected with our ability to make decisions and experience feelings. Miraculously, my son survived his cancer and thrives in college, feeling, thinking and learning (I trust) every day.
Back to my sensitive nature. I take the kindness — and the unkindness — of others to heart (or maybe, head). With loss and tragedy happening all around in this world, perhaps it’s good not to focus on “the little things,” but to be tougher, stronger, more reserved. But sometimes it is the little things: if we really dislike someone, then every little thing they do is annoying. Maybe that’s when it’s time for sensitivity toward others, empathy and understanding.
Which brings me to la thérapie. No, not the kind you’re thinking; other than a massage therapist, a paid professional doesn’t work for me. Reading does, and talking to a close friend (ideally, my best friend, mon mari) works even better. But I find the best therapy to be (creative) writing. I don’t know why it works, but it does, heureusement.
Now back to my Work In Progress (WIP), my second novel…and la thérapie!
Bonne année 2013!
Un puzzle 3D de la Tour Eiffel: la thérapie pour quelqu’un d’autre dans la famille (pas moi; je n’aime pas les puzzles!):
* For more on faux-amis, see my post “L’esprit de l’escalier, spiral staircases and faux-amis”
** Another Joan Armatrading song is the title of Part 3 of MAKE THAT DEUX. Savez-vous pourquoi?