Empathy. Feeling too much.

Empathy is the most mysterious transaction that the human soul can have, and it’s accessible to all of us, but we have to give ourselves the opportunity to identify, to plunge ourselves in a story where we see the world from the bottom up or through another’s eyes or heart.

Sue Monk Kidd
Sometimes, I want to cry over something.

There a days where I want to be happy, bask in the sunshine, and soak up joy.

But there are other days.

Where I watch videos for the sole purpose of crying.

Sometimes its a good cry.  I watch videos where people are suddenly surprised by winning their dream.  Underdog videos are my favorite.  An assuming person walks in to a contest or performance and suddenly blows everyone away by being INCREDIBLE.

And I weep with the audience, surprised and gratified to find that yet another person was not all they seemed.

I know its a trick of camera,story, and editing.

But it still feels good.  Its cathartic.

I even enjoy people doing sad things well.  A beautiful performance of something heart breaking, a poem or song.

I just get in a mood where I want to be sad.

Lately, I have found that I have moments where I, as I tried to explain to my mom, feel too much.

Like, I’m in a meeting and its going well, and suddenly someone says something and, to me, it was the wrong thing to say.  I look around the room and I can feel, in oppressive waves, the wrongness of the moment.  Whether it was someone shooting down an idea or someone saying something in a way that’s not tactful and quietly hurts someone, I feel it.

I feel it sitting down to dinner with friends.

I feel it at church, when I talk to people, like all of a sudden we’re having a conversation and I KNOW somethings wrong and its probably not me but I don’t want to say anything because it feels too private to call it out.

When I was little, and through my teenage years, I couldn’t even handle sad commercials.  Even, played for a joke. Someone being teased or left alone or behind.

I once completely lost it when I had to be the Cheese that Stood Alone at the end of the Farmer in the Dell.

Even know, I go out of my way to avoid what I’ve now heard as Second Hand Embarrassment in TV shows. Comedies like The Office, for example, where cringe worthy moments are played for laughs and I can’t enjoy it because all I can imagine is how, for that social awkward person, that moment hurt more than you can imagine.

And, even now where I put on a face to the world that I am gregarious and fun and warm…the thought of being the Cheese that Stands Alone is always in the back of my head.

Even when I want to be alone.

Now I am in a place where I avoid sad commercials. Clickbait articles about lonely dogs upset me.  Old people that have been forgotten by their relatives. Children where no one show up to their birthday party.  These moments grab around my heart like a vice and I am breathless with sadness.

And I haven’t confessed this to anyone.  Except, I guess now, the internet.

A few people picked up on it…recently there was a moment where someone I knew NEEDED a person.  But I had to go back to the place of a traumatic event.  But they needed me.  They were struggling.  So I didn’t hesitate.  And I told one of my friends and she called me and said “I’m going with you.  Because you think you can do this by yourself, but you will feel ALL the feelings and we both know how that goes.”

It was a relief.  Because I can do these things alone.  But I don’t have to do them alone.

It has almost been a year since the carjacking.  A year since the worst of the pain began. 2 years since the wave of deaths.  I know, logically, that despite my best efforts I am quite clearly still traumatized.  I am beginning to see the ways this has effected me, without me even realizing it.  I’m seeing it in a pattern of withdrawal from groups and a gradual moving back in to them.  Seeing it in a withdrawal from things that gave me joy and a tentative step back.

I just never imagined recovery would be so slow.  I never imagined that pushing and pushing myself would end up bringing all this feeling back in ways I thought I had grown out of.  But instead, has magnified it.

There are days that are beautiful  The sun shines, I read outside and everything feels ok.

There are days..that don’t.  So I sit in bed and watch sad and happy videos and cry.  Maybe because those people’s feelings are big and easy to grab and ok to be sad or happy with.  Maybe I’m using them as a way to work out all the feelings that I didn’t touch because, in the moment, I felt like I couldn’t grieve.

Besides.  Sometimes the cheese that stands alone is fabulous cheese and is alone as a centerpiece.  There’s something to be said for that, too.



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