If there is anything I’m good at, its repressing and running away from things that are too traumatic, too painful. Mind you, it is a useful survival instinct that has saved me a good many times. But its one that has also greatly impeded my emotional, psychological and spiritual health.
The fact that I have repressed and buried so much stuff has not escaped me because I have experienced encountering things that I ought to know but find that I cannot conjure up anything. Scary – like your mind has this empty hallow space. But even scarier when you find that not only have you repressed memories – you’ve repressed entire days, weeks, seasons of your life. You’ve repressed places and even people.
The other day, I encountered one such person.
To be sure, I know that I know him. Used to know him. I spent quite a lot of time with him at one time. So why wasn’t I able to remember much about him?
It took a little bit of small talk and questions before memories starting unlocking and the whole thing started to unravel. I dug a little deeper and finally, there it was. I remembered why I locked him away in the first place.
I’m a bit of an empath. No, its not a superpower. Its more a description of how I deal with (understand, comprehend, get along) with people.
You probably have heard the expression “place yourself in my shoes”. In my case, its more like I’m absorbing you into my system. I try to “become” you. i find that I am strong at picking up on people’s emotions and ‘reading’ people. The problem is the more I absorb, the more difficult it is to differentiate who I am from who you are. I suck things in but I don’t filter things well. This is often referred to as a recipe for psychological overload.
I’m a bit like Rogue who is my favourite mutant from X-men by the way. She has the ability to absorb memories, abilities, personalities and even physical attributes through touch and according to her official Marvel profile (and yes I had to google this)
Upon absorbing another’s memories, Rogue also gained any associated emotional responses. Rogue was typically able to control such emotions, however absorbing psyches more powerful than her own resulted in Rogue’s psyche being supplanted.
In essence, she and I are very much alike. As much as empathy could be a useful tool, I often consider it more like a curse than a gift.
This person, I now remember, was one of those people I categorized was harmful for my psychological status. He was (and still is) a black hole of despair, a child of cynicism, seemingly in the throes of depression. These people are what I consider my kryptonite.
From what I now gather, in an effort to protect my own self from all that I had absorbed from him – I locked him away into the deeper recesses of my psyche and calcified him so that he wouldn’t disrupt me so much.
When I first began talking to him, I wondered why I had repressed so much of him but the more I began to ask, the horror began to grow – nothing had changed – he was still the same mess I used to know and he was still not good for my psyche.
Then again, maybe something had changed.
Because instead of just going with my natural instinct – to pull away from him and his darkness. I began to feel this sense of compassion and urgency in me. How could I help this person? It was like the darkness was drawing me in – paradoxically like moth to flame.