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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you have a nice heart

Today I walked a lot because of two books I needed to buy  for some courses I’m taking. I didn’t know I had to walk that much, since I honestly thought I knew where the official university press was, but apparently the store I knew has closed last year. So, I went to three different (and very apart) bookstores, and only at the third did someone tell me where I should go to buy what I wanted.

The third bookstore! It’s a nice little bookstore like the ones seen in films: you walk inside and the door touches a piece of metal that makes a little sound and you look up and see tones of books of different sizes and full shelfs everywhere. It smells of old books and new ones (which is normal since it sells both). And then the nice lady appears and asks if you need help.

Which I needed. I told her what I was looking for and she immediately started telling me what I needed to know, even drew on a piece of paper a tiny map. I already knew her, because that same bookstore used to be somewhere else, and I’ve always known her to be nice, but today we talked for hours (literally, we were two hours talking, until a couple got into the store). She remembered me, even though I’d last been at her shop two years ago. At first we talked about university and books, and I guess I thought I should stay and talk to her because she seemed lonely and in need of a chat, or of somebody to hear her. But then I realised, maybe, just maybe, I sort of needed to be there and listen to her…

It was so weird, but I really felt like it was destiny to be there, hearing her, letting her stories be part of my own. And I know how cheesy this sounds! I’m not one to believe in such terms and mysticisms, but, boy, that was weird! Also, the way she talked and the way she saw through me was unbelievable… I know how easy I am to read, I can’t really conceal my feelings or some thoughts if I have them in the moment, but to have someone, who barely knows you, say things about you and your family that she must have realised in the moment, is just so weird!

I won’t write about what we talked, it was too much and a bit to personal somehow, but I’m writing this post because I was so surprised with the feelings I kept having throughout our chat. It was also very enlightening and interesting. I really enjoyed it because she genuinely seems like a nice person: there was this bit where she almost brought me to tears and we hugged, and then we kept talking about something else and time flew. I kept thinking I had to tell her how nice she was, how her heart is so beautiful and nice, but in the end I didn’t. That’s also why I’m writing this.

These few hours were so great, not because I was there instead of being home studying or doing something else, but because they’re rare. It seems to me it’s very uncommon to go to a bookstore and stay for two hours talking with the worker, when you barely know each other. More than uncommon, it’s unlikely.  But today it happened to me, and just like the bookstore reminded me of the ones in a film or in a book, so our conversation reminded me of stories I knew so well sometime ago. The chat itself was uncommon, but beautiful at the same time. I appreciated it a lot and I sure will come back to that place more often.

In the end, when some tourists walked in, we said goodbye and both mentioned how nice that time had been. Then I left and was overwhelmed with the feeling of goodness that the chat we had gave me. But still, I regret not telling her she had such a nice heart. I really love to meet people who are this great, it warms my heart!

-A