I close my eyes, Silence.
Somewhere in the background, I hear the static noise of the city.
A mixture of voices, cars, trams, music and birds. But in my head there’s silence. I open my eyes, look out on the street, the hustle-and-bustle. The crossing I see is like an analogy of my emotional life: so many different cars, with different destinations, stopping and going, each at its own pace.
I close my eyes,
I concentrate on my breath, and turn all my attention inwards. I sense a knot of emotions in me, that I can’t define more clearly. It’s scratchy, somehow, undefinable, rough.
I try to get hold of one of the threads of this emotional knots, hoping to maybe untangle it and put it together more neatly. I try to understand what these emotions are that I clearly have in me, what makes them so rough, what about them makes it hard for me to breathe?
There’s a lot of professional pressure:
Tight deadlines, unforeseeable complications, the fear of not living up to my high professional standard.
Have I loaded too much onto my plate after all?
Should I reduce my pace and workload?
Would that be ok?
So I grab that emotional thread, and try to wind it up neatly.
There is no pressure. I generate all this pressure, and I should simply let things happen. I should live in the moment instead of getting caught up in fears of an uncertain, unknowable future. Some things just happen, and no one can do anything about it. I can do my best, but sheer luck is also a real component of life. All I can do is take one step after the other and hope for the best. As I consciously sort through my thoughts like this, I untangle the thread and wind it up more neatly in me.
There is a lot of private pressure.
I think of my overflowing inbox, about the many unanswered messages on WhatsApp, the disappointments that hinge on my lack of responsiveness. I ask myself if other people get as many messages every day as I do, wonder if anyone else gets swamped like me, even by messages of family and close friends. How I hate the feeling of having to be available for everyone at all times. Where does this resistance come from? Is it normal that one doesn’t always feel like reacting instantaneously to messages, even if they are from the closest and dearest people in one’s life? I would love to be there for everyone, but sometimes I just don’t have the energy for it.
“They’ll understand”, I think to myself, “and if it’s really important they’ll give me a ring.” It sounds egocentric even to my own ears, but I also know that sometimes ignoring push messages is all I can do to not go crazy. If I wouldn’t de-couple myself from this kind of pressure from time to time I’d probably steer right towards an emotional breakdown, and I don’t think anyone would wish that upon me. All I’m trying to do is to respect my own limits of communication, to stick to what I know is healthy, and that’s ok. Another thread untangled, as if by itself.
Then I feel a wave of disgust:
I suddenly remember people that came too close for comfort recently. Drunken people who held me too tightly or didn’t respect the boundaries of physical distance in a conversation. It’s an invasive feeling, and those encounters unbalanced me. I try to shake it, but it doesn’t work.
I just don’t like being touched by strangers, and I feel better with a bit of respectful distance. Generally speaking, I get easily overwhelmed at larger events, and often have to surpress the desire to just flee the scenario.
I inhale deeply, try to remember that those people who willingly or unwillingly disrespected my boundaries didn’t leave any lasting traces. My body is still my body. And: it’s ok to admit that you feel cornered when someone comes too close to you and doesn’t stop talking. It’s ok to need one’s distance, even if it’s a nice chat otherwise.
This feeling is a complex one, with disgust, shame and a guilty conscience mixed in, but I try to untangle this thread as well. Doesn’t work all the way.
Then there’s fatigue:
when was the last time I slept in? It feels like an eternity. I think of my cozy bed, of my boyfriend cuddling up to me, embracing me like a warm blanket, and I think o f my cats, those warm, fluffy pillows of delight, their little bodies pressed against mine, gifting warmth and love. I feel peaceful, and full of joyous expectation.
Then there’s anger:
I remember people who stole my strength and energy, who may have walked away from a conversation feeling it was a benefit, while having contributed nothing other than making me feel bad, inadequate, or having dumped their negative emotions on me. This is a particularly tangled and knotted thread in me. I try to loosen it, but it’s tied pretty tight in me.
And as I close my eyes, trying to find peace in me, I get overwhelmed by the discordant noise of my conflicting emotions. Each of these emotional threads wants my attention, each of them claims a space in my being I actually don’t want to cede.
That may be the worst of it:
it’s impossible to ignore negative emotions.
They demand to be felt.
I am a very empathic person, and I react very sensitively to other people’s vibes. I try to radiate as much positive energy as I can, but I am not a self-service fuel pump. Often though, people just seem to help themselves, and leave me empty. My own energy balance is often completely messed up, leaving me dry, without strength and motivation, as if all positive energy would have been drained from me.
Here’s the thing:
when it comes to energy, I am generous. I love to share when I’m in a good mood, I love laughing, I love listening to others, and I enjoy gifting attention. I consider my full and undivided attention in someone as a gift that I love to give. I am deeply and genuinely interested in other people. That said, I reserve the right to dispense this gift as I see fit. And when it’s stolen, it’s not a gift. A certain type of energy vampires basically just steal my attention, impose themselves on me and create an atmosphere of discomfort that drags everyone within a certain radius down with them. They spread toxic vibes by dragging everything in the mud, grab all the attention they can get and take more out of everyone than everyone’s ready to give. It leads to a feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction in everyone, and the desire to somehow recharge one’s batteries after such an encounter. As I understand this, m chaotic bundle of emotions slowly dissolves in me.
I look outside, this time onto a green patch of lawn on which kids are playing and dogs are running around, all taking in the last rays of the sun. I enjoy the playful, exuberant voices in the background, the sun on my face, the smell of rain in the air and the wet grass on my fingers. I close my eyes, inhale, exhale, recharge positive energy.
I am restoring a gift in me that will make someone out there really happy, of that I’m sure.
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