"And when the wind
does blow against the grain,
you must follow your heart."
-- Dallas Green
(via City and Colour),
Against the Grain
This has nothing to with a group, however. It is just a new understanding of things in terms of empathy. Like a fragile spider's web, this gift (or curse) of mine weaves between people and each little vibration is picked up. In a crowd, I don't even understand what I feel for myself. It is always everyone else, even with my very elementary shield up.
A while ago, a friend of mine lost one of her family members. Her grief was piercing, and she, of course, cried over dinner. Rightly so. I reached out as any good friend would. I felt her grief pretty much travel up my arms. I felt it gather in the pit of my stomach, and it was all I could do not to cry, too. She stopped crying, but I still held all of this sadness with no clear idea of how to be rid of it. The reason I never really liked to be touched before is because of this. This has always happened.
In another sense, I can always tell why people are not being honest with me. Or when they are withholding some important information -- they regret hurting my feelings. I've met a few who would lie just to be vindictive...I've lived with it. And now, I tell people -- If you don't tell me, I will find out -- because that's the truth of the matter. I think I just lost friends because they knew I would find out why they were dishonest, disrespectful and rude... but that is beside the point.
I have trouble sometimes when seated in a room filled with people, such as a lecture hall. I always need to sit on the end of a row, because in the center of the room, the waves of people's emotions become far too much to handle. I get impatient, headache-y, irritable -- and if the class is actually amusing, this overwhelming urge to burst out into hysterical laughter. I'm usually very reserved and professional -- and I usually enjoy most of my classes. This sort of absorption doesn't occur just in large lecture halls, though. One of the worst cases was a 3am fire alarm...everyone was angry as the alarm had been going off nonstop for two days at all hours. I had no time to shield (let alone the concentration to meditate with the alarm blaring.) I usually am not so concerned with these things -- sure I was tired, but wouldn't anyone be? So many of the kids around me were wall-punching angry, and it really does collect fast. It was difficult to handle, and difficult to fall back asleep after the drill was over.
There are days when I have fended off so much energy via emotions during the day that I feel nothing. I walk back to my room and have no capacity to feel anything except overwhelming tiredness. These are the moments when I need to be absolutely alone to reaquaint myself to what I feel for myself, instead of what the world around me decides they want to project. Some people would call me an introvert -- and they'd be right. I swear without Empathy I would be a little more extroverted. All I want to do is sing and dance sometimes...but all eyes on me doesn't work out, not at all. The problem is, and always was, that I understand people differently. They would open up and tell me all their problems without a second thought because, subconciously, they knew I would get it. My room becomes a sort of group therapy over coffee, even in those times when I can't feel anything and need to be left alone. I know they can't help it. I'm usually a top choice to listen to their venting and problems when they have bad days. They can't explain it -- but it's the Empathy.
So here is my new understanding. Remember the image of the spider web woven between all people? I'm beginning to see that somehow we are all connected via emotion. We all send out different energies depending on how we feel -- and without realizing it, we are calling to one another. Some of us -- people like me -- pick up on that. I wonder if when I absorb emotion as I did for my friend....does it really heal them? I wonder that if they speak constantly of their worries to me, that they feel better afterward? Not everyone can be happy all the time, I understand that. But maybe... since I'm like the spider in this metaphor... maybe since I can understand why they hurt (and sometimes where,) I should help as best as I can? Here's to learning new ways with magic, herbs and stones to help alleviate ailments in all senses...spiritual, mental and physical.