I am so fortunate that through writing, I have met some of the most truly talented individuals. Furthermore, many of these awesome humans I now consider some of my closest friends. My friend, Sybil, wrote this piece below and I LOVED it when I read it because I so, SO related to it. I somedays think I suffer from empathy-poisoning, but Sybil puts this into words far better than I ever could..sooo take it away, Dinosaur!
THE SUCCUBUS OF EMPATHY
By Sybil Watters
It is good to have feelings. Despite the fact that I have asked my therapist on more than one occasion to remove my amygdala (very scientifically speaking- the lovely little nugget in your brain that regulates your “feelers” and triggers your fight or flight response), it IS good to have feelings. It is equally good to have feelings for others and empathy for their struggles and trials. A gift, really, if you can swing it, to commiserate with a traumatized friend or suffering stranger.
And then there are those of us, the ones who have inquired about amygdala removal, who sense, feel and soak up every single emotion around them like SpongeBob looking for a raindrop in Death Valley. I like SpongeBob, I really do, but do I want to know what sponging it up is really like? Not even on my best day. No such luck, however, I’m porous to the core and every time a human being within a two foot radius is suffering, stressed out, anxious, worried or even picking lint off their shirt, my mind and body sense it and take it on, circa the Spartans in “300”. Random insert, I mentally prepare myself for challenges by yelling “THIS. IS. SPARTAAAAAAAAA!!!” And sometimes I watch the Rocky IV montage and scream “DRAGOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” Anyway…..
I, myself, suffer from PTSD and severe panic disorder, so I have my own battles to wage. They are quite enough. I can even make them funny. Uncomfortably funny. But hey, that is my thing. When other people seep through my pores, I can’t make it funny. You are not technically allowed to make jokes about the pain of others (unless you know that is how they roll), so it stews. And stews. And stews some more…until it is just overdone stew in my brain and I physically take on their challenges and chew the meat. Don’t get me started on overdone meat.
I have researched the problem, because for a minute I was sure I had some superpower that might have been the only superpower that totally sucked….the life right out of me. Turns out, I’m an empath. And as an empath, I can hyper-actively sense changes in people’s demeanor, emotions and circumstances. For me, it is usually the shift from “I’m all good” to “my life is in shambles.” Which happens more than any non-empath person might want to know. Think of it sort of like magic. Like the worst magic EVER. No sparkly dust. Especially if you feel helpless to assist, which, in general, you are. Solving other people’s problems is like trying to put two different puzzles together and one is in 3-D. It wouldn’t work if it wasn’t and it certainly doesn’t work if it is- real life- standing right in front of you.
I have accepted my lot as an empath. And usually, I feel I have something genuine and helpful to say or do to alleviate the pain, even a little, of the other person I am sole-sucking against my will, and probably theirs. If I have nothing, I pray. For them. And for me.
It is a huge burden to bear your own pains, problems and trials and an even more magnificent feat to bear the burdens, aches and emotional shifts of every single person you come in contact with. Sometimes, it feels like you are suffocating on sorrow.
For me, it comes down to this- be there anyway. Be there. Bear the burden. Hold the hand of the drowning person and yank them up any way you can. Calm the nerves of the person who rattles your nerves. Ease the anxiety of the human being in front of you that you don’t even know, especially as you can’t ease your own.
Empathy can be a complete and total succubus. It wears me down, heightens my PTSD and panic, haunts my dreams on a regular basis. But my succubus is occasionally someone else’s saving grace. I would rather be a saving grace in a stranger’s memory who would have drowned in despair than a person who couldn’t see or feel their life jacket slipping off before it was too late.
You can find Sybil on Facebook at her author page, Sybil Watters.
As always, thanks for stopping by, and if you wouldn’t mind giving me a click on your way out, I will love you like a dinosaur, forrreverrrrr. RAWRRRRRR! xo-Smash