soaking up feelings as she goes

Everyone feels things differently. Everyone sees things differently. Part of what makes life worth it is trying to see what others see. Part of what makes her life simultaneously wonderful and so damn hard is feeling what others feel.

It’s not a superpower, it’s certainly not a gift, but it’s not a curse either. It’s just something she has had her whole life, it’s a part of her, it’s one of the things that make her her. She feels what others feel and she understands. Most of the time she keeps quiet about it, while constantly trying to help them, especially getting up when they’re low. Most people tend to like that about her, the way she cares, the way she helps. Some tell her, some of them don’t. Either way, it doesn’t matter, it’s just what she needs to do.

She never talks about this, but then again, she doesn’t talk about most things about her. It’s equally who she is, and no matter how hard she tried to change that, she couldn’t. But this is the one secret that also drowns her. Because she soaks up what others feel, she has little breath left to deal with her own feelings. So, when things hit her, they hit her hard, she swallows them whole. She’s incapable of telling you her sorrows until she has them figured out. This has nothing to do with trust and everything to do with fear: remember she feels you; she fears what is spreading underneath will hurt you too, and in turn making her hurt more. And so she retreats, leaving some to wonder why she’s gone, others to simply give up on her, saying “she always goes”. Funny how easily one forgets how many times she picked up the pieces. How bitter-sweet it is to recognize so little hands when she is the one who needs lifting.

If you worry about her, all you can do is be patient, wait and try to be there when she is ready. No amount of asking, of forcing, of screaming, will open the door. In fact, she’ll only shut it right at your face. Even if you want to shake her and tell her that what she does to herself is not healthy, understand she knows that all too well. If you fear everything might come crumbling out of her, be aware: it might happen only to those she trusts the most. She knows no one has to deal with her shit, and if it bursts out of her, it will never be on purpose. Before telling her that her feelings aren’t right, remember all the times the tables were turned. Know she doesn’t expect you to understand, she expects you to not be a jerk about what she feels.

Know you might be too much for her, no matter how much she loves you. Know she can’t help anyone if she can’t help herself, and she needs to help. Know she will leave if she has to put herself first. Know that is the hardest thing to do for her. Know that even when she is okay, she withdraws for a while to recharge. The world is too big for her, too loud, with too many feelings, too hard to bear. She feels things she sometimes wishes she didn’t. But she understands them. And so she fights every single time. Even when some think she’s running, she is fighting. Even if some think she’s weak or cowardly, she knows it takes strength to handle it all, and courage to keep fighting. Whenever she retreats, she’s not hiding, she’s gathering up the strength to help again. Sometimes she just takes a little longer to get back on her feet, but she always stands up again. You’d have known this if you’d paid attention. But that’s alright, she understands.

Most of all, know she sees you, all of you. Know she understands where people come from, she knows every single life is complex and intricate, and so she might forgive all too easily. She sees the best in people, she sees their potential and chooses to believe. She is a good person, but even good people have flaws and she knows hers all too well. She is easy to hurt, but any fool could tell that. She will not put up a fight, she will not make up threats. She will cry, she will speak the words she can grasp. She will resent the way the words left her lips and the tears her eyes. Above all, she will recognize if she was wrong and ask forgiveness. But she will also know if the other person is in the wrong. And if they are, even if she understands where they come from and forgives, she will still be hurting and she might leave — not withdraw, leave, for good. If she gives another chance (which she probably will), try to be fairer;  she has less and less patience for emotionally abusive and toxic people, as she grows.

Everyone sees things differently. Everyone feels things differently. This is a portion of what it is like for her to navigate the world through an empathic lens and a sponge heart, soaking up feelings as she goes, stopping to let people know she understands, leaving to let those feelings go and get in touch with her own.

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