I recently went to a large dinner party with a bunch of people I don’t know that well, which is about my least favorite thing. Ten first-dates in a row leave me anxious as hell. I’m picking up everyone’s attempts to impress each other, everyone’s fears that they’re not good enough, everyone’s bad, bad, bad jokes. And laying down my own of all that, too.
One of the people I was sitting near was…quite intoxicated, and this person’s version of that is moodiness, suspicion, and an edge of danger. The energy given off was so off-kilter, so back-against-a-wall, I was ready to jump if plates got smashed or fists started flying. I was prepared to protect those around me, prepared for anything, and my whole body was coiled the whole time…while my face was smiling and laughing and pretending everything was cool because, on the surface, so far, it was. And because I didn’t want to be the weirdo who unecessarily set off alarms.
Previously, I would have had a lot to drink to get through that stress. It was a drinking event, everyone else was, so there was easy access. I would have wanted to bury my internal shaky, fear-riddled voice, because the moment was, by all other observers, perfectly fine. There was a live wire, an unfed feral animal next to me, but it was wearing a shirt and mostly staying with the group conversation, so I alone, the nut job that I am, was feeling it. I would have used booze to shut up.
I didn’t drink, and I survived the encounter (so did the individual, and all others around us), but I left feeling a) Certain that what I’d been feeling was valid and things were, in fact, off with that person. Since I will have to have an ongoing relationship with them, I will exercise help/caution and b) I needed soothing myself because I had absorbed all that energy.
I’ve been in so many moments where the people around me are mentally unbalanced and I can sense their unrest, but because no one else seems to notice or mind, I feel like my reaction to their vibes is inappropriate, discourteous, or insane. But it’s also served me in life, making me an astute listener, keeping me safe.
I feel other people’s feelings intensely. I pay close attention. Especially when I’m not drinking, my 6th sense is acute. It’s become a choice phrase in pop-culture, to be an empath, and it just means someone who has elevated skills/curse of empathy (the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another).
So, blech. There it is. Blessing and curse. I can’t turn it off, and it’s exhausting and winds me up, but also it gives me insights into other people’s minds/emotions, makes me a better friend, better writer, and again, has kept me safe a time or two. Since I can feel human storms brewing early, I can sometimes avoid them or subdue them before they break.
When I got home, with my newfound sense of self-awareness and vulnerability, I asked for help. I told Robb about dinner, and that I needed a safe place to re-set. I basically curled up on him like a cat until I found my balance again. I’m grateful for that nest. Oh, and I also took a big ‘ol shot of CBD oil.
I’m learning to trust myself and not hate the things that I am just because they’re inconvenient.