As a youth, when going to spend time at my paternal grandmother’s on Sundays for lunch, I could sit in the living room, and feel so absolutely alone. This was my family, but I didn’t fit. I could all but envision that glass bubble that was covering me, separating me from them. Depending on weather and time of year, I would often find myself either sitting on the front porch watching cars pass, or in the living room watching the flames dance in the fireplace. I knew every decoration in that room, but little of the family in the next.
As a teenager in high school, I could walk into a classroom and it feel as if I had walked into an invisible wall. An unseen but deeply felt force surrounding and smothering me. Not understanding what was going on, what was happening, I figured it was me. I was right, but it wasn’t something wrong, even as I often asked that question to myself, figuring I would not like the answers from anyone else. All I knew, was I didn’t ..fit. I couldn’t wait to escape even as I endured those hours.
I would see all the others, laughing, talking, enjoying every moment of school and the social interaction. I tried. I would join in on events. I would participate in class. I tried. All the while feeling the swirling mass of…something. My mind screaming, what is wrong with me?
Then, a television program gave me the first hint. It was an episode of the original Star Trek, yes, way back then. In that episode Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McKoy were being used to get an Empath beyond her fear. Empath? What is an empath? What exactly does that mean, being empathic, showing empathy?
I felt as if a weight of sorts had been lifted, I had an explanation and the beginning of understanding. But what does one do with that? This was something thought different, odd, not understood, don’t mention that, people will think you strange and weird and..well guess what? People already thought that. I had the beginning of comprehension, I simply had to learn more.
It has taken many years to come to a better understanding. I got sidetracked through life. I wonder now, looking back, if I had learned more earlier, if my life would have been different. Possibly, but I think that everything I dealt with, had purpose and has eventually lead me to this point and place. Time, taught me, I started to say accidentally, but nothing is truly accidental.
I was in a grocery store and felt as if I were drowning. Some one or many, some where, were having severe emotional moments. I felt as if the air around me had grown thick and heavy and it was all I could do to walk, even though at that moment, I was in an aisle alone. In my mind, I envisioned closing a door. I saw that door, I watched as I pushed it closed. I heard the click of the latch. I was on the outside of the door, the emotional quagmire was on the other. The thick, heaviness cleared.I could finish my shopping. Where was this when I was in high school?
I think, we learn things, when we are ready to accept the lessons. When we are capable of comprehending. I’m sure life tries along the way to teach us, but unless we are ready and willing, we don’t learn. Trust me, the lessons I learned, my personal growth, all came the hard way. But, each lesson is seared into my brain. Some you simply do not forget.
Once I learned that what was wrong with me, was not anything wrong, just different, my appreciation grew. To be one who has a greater empathy, is a gift once you understand how to deal with the moments when the emotions of others can be overwhelming. When we tell someone, we understand, we do. It gives us a greater heart for those around us, seeking ways to be a difference, to show difference, to heal the hurt and ease the pain.
But that, comes with a price.There are those who are drawn to empathic people. They will use and abuse that gift. Some deliberately, some without realizing. They simply instinctively know, the empathic offer understanding and healing. Offer a place to talk, to unload, to absorb the peace shared.
Feeling the emotions around us, especially in a group or crowd setting, strips us of peace and calm. We have to find ways to find our emotional balance. Moments away from crowds, away from distractions, away from the noise of life. Each of us find what is personal for us, where we can reset our peace. Mine is on a nature hike, whether it is on the mountain or in the woods behind my house. Some find theirs at the beach, or the mountains, a stretch of desert. A quiet back room with soft music and a book.
Because in truth, thanks to an overly generous gift of understanding, and compassion, we are blessed and there is nothing wrong with us.