Solace. My favorite thing about any place I’ve stayed has always been the place where I could be alone. I greatly enjoy long periods of solitude, it enables me to sort out my feelings and think clearer. Eventually I will long to engage with others, but my need for sanctuary returns, quickly.
I read somewhere that I am what’s called an empath. Someone who feels intently like an emotional antenna and picks up on the feelings in their surroundings and those in them quickly. It sucks. No, literally, it is very draining at times to be so suddenly in tune to other people and situations without warning.
It’s not as hokey as it sounds, though, It’s really just a matter of concentrated observation. When you’re quiet and keep to yourself you can observe people’s behavior easily. You become fluent in body language and it’s many dialects. You can hear the differences in the tone of voice when people are talking to a loved one, co-worker, attractive stranger, or aggravating family member. You can detect the cry for help in a child’s unruly behavior or the plea for affection from someone being stand-offish. To be in conversation with a total stranger as they pour out their heart and soul to you and you can say something to make them feel understood is a wonderful thing.
But, when familiars get used to this exchange and only talk to you when they need to unload you can quickly become an emotional dumping ground. People mean well, they trust you and you’re available and you really do help them feel better so of course they turn to you. But, if you’re always the one that helps , other people don’t think about you needing any help; especially not from them.
It can be difficult to navigate this problem because you understand their need but you’re crushed under the weight of it, and you instinctively take too much of it on. It’s the dark side of being connected. You can’t control what comes into the channel, only what you put out.
What I’ve learned (albeit, the hard way) is that you simply have to unplug. You may feel like a class A jerk at first, but the alternative is becoming sullen, bitter and resentful. Realize that some lessons are best taught by life and learned by living. Alleviating someone’s troubles can often do more harm than good. If your connection is meant to be it’ll remain in tact. If not, let go.
One of the greatest mistakes I’ve made with this gift is not considering my own well-being in light of someone else’s. If I can’t love myself I’ll eventually hurt those around me.