… I’ve come to talk with you again.~ ♪♫
So it might seem a little bizarre for someone like me – spiritually inclined and whatnot – to have a moment of, “Oh yeah. I forgot about that,” regarding something like empathy, or high sensitivity in general. Guess who has two thumbs and forgot they were an empath? Me.
You might be wondering, “how does one forget something like that?” The answer is
blowing in the wind repression. Repression due to a combination of social expectation and trauma, in particular. Story time!
I remember a quiet snippet from middle school, in which we were doing the “two truths and a lie” thing – or one interesting fact, or some boring and potentially embarrassing crap like that (I’m not a teacher, I don’t know why so many feel the need to do things like that, but I’d be happy to learn) – and this one guy who shall remain nameless got up and said something along the lines of, “I can read other people’s emotions.”
Of course the whole classroom laughed at him. People don’t just out and say things like that. I, however, didn’t laugh. Instead I looked at him with the most fearful, intrigued, and, “are you out of your effin’ mind?!” face I could have possibly managed at that age. Realizing that the whole class was laughing at this guy, and that I too was a little on the weird side, was a slap in the face. Looking back, I really feel bad for the guy. That was probably the start of a bunch of crap for him, as well, even if he did just say it for attention. For the highly sensitive people sitting in that room though – maybe I was the only one, who knows – that was probably the moment when we collectively clamped up and tried our best to ignore the little pings and nudges from other people. That was the moment we starting thinking that we were wrong, or mutants, or some other middle-school-drama-esque thing.
Cut to high school! No, best not. I shut all the way down in high school – or as all the way down as I could. It was still overwhelming to be around that many people. Guess what?! It’s because I hadn’t practiced filtering or discerning for years and emotions were getting more and more developed and powerful all around me. Good job. College wasn’t much better, because not only was I trying to find my feet in a completely new environment, but the little hints of freedom and clarity and confidence that I was getting from literally everyone else just served to muddle me up even more. Was I aware of it? Of course not. By then I had this weird notion in my head that “empath” and “sensitive” were akin to “squishy, fragile flower person” rather than “look, you’re a freaking superhero.”
Then the clusterfumble around Mutt happened and I just… nope’d out of reality for a little while, I think. Somewhere in the back of my mind I guess I just decided to ignore myself along with everyone else and just try to get by until it stopped hurting so much.
Cut to a few days ago. Sitting in a fast food place with Bran, on a cold, ice-spitting day, wondering why I felt like everyone was staring at me and why the whole place was suffocating for the first time in a very long time. I realized – I don’t know how, but I did – that that feeling of helplessness, of “how am I going to make this work,” of rattling nerves, and of “please, God, give me a break,” wasn’t coming from me. It was coming from the other people. A construction worker who was taking a lunch break from his job just down the street, dreading having to go back out into the cold for another four hours or so for abysmal pay and hard work. An interviewee who wasn’t sure if she’d get hired or not but really needs this job. Bran, sitting across the table from me, wondering if I was alright or if I was about to break down again. Several others just being generally stressed from oh crap lunch rush and oh would you shut this idiot up already? Nobody is here for the politics right now, we just want to eat in peace!
And then a little kid laughed, and then her mom (or grandma? I couldn’t tell) laughed. And it felt like the world was a little lighter. Like everything was going to be okay, and that there was happiness. I just kinda looked up at Bran after heaving a sigh of relief and went…
“Oh yeah. I forgot I was an empath.”