Friday, August 3, 2012

My Gift, My Superpower, The Price I Pay

    "Sticks and stones may break my bones.... but words can really hurt me."

    Sensitive. Delicate. Fragile. Gentle.  Having a sensitive Spirit is not an easy burden to carry through life. At times I wish I could harden myself, toughen up, desensitize. But I cannot. It is impossible. I know, because I have tried, tried and failed. I cannot count the number of self pep talks, self-analysis, probing, and rallying of Spirit that I have perpetrated upon myself. I am an expert at shoring myself up during easy moments, but a failure at holding fast to those shorings when put to the test. No matter how strong is Body, how logical is Brain, neither can manage to protect Spirit when the need arises. Is this my weakness? My Achilles's Heel? Is it my cross to bear? Or is it one of my greatest strengths? In the midst of an emotional crash, crises, shattering, it feels like nothing less than sheer and abject failure of strength, weakness of character. I so easily  revert to injured child, quivering lip, eyes filling with unwanted tears. Even in the depths of my pain and angst I feel an anger towards myself for what, at that moment, I can see as only weakness. But once the pain has passed, the child has been comforted, Spirit has crept out from hiding, then I can look back on whatever caused the crippling reaction with understanding and empathy.
    Empathy is my Superpower. Empathy is my Gift. Empathy is my Magic. I know this. I love this aspect of myself. But it carries a high price. A price I pay daily. It is what makes me hypersensitive to the Power of gestures, the Power of the spoken word, the Power of  emotion, the Power that surrounds every creature I come into contact with. Empathy makes interaction difficult, emotions rolling off of others like waves of palpable energy, for good or ill. Empathy makes me feel the hurt and pain of others as a physical manifestation that cannot be ignored or easily dealt with. At times I wish for a simple treatment, a drug, a vaccine, against this ability to feel so deeply, so easily. A pill to numb my senses. But I would never actually do such a thing. Instead I work myself to exhaustion, for in sheer fatigue I do find an ability to somewhat normalize my reactions. The flipside of this is that when I am exhausted, every chink in my armor becomes exposed, and it is flimsy armor at best. So I can calm my reaction to everyday interactions, but am less able to withstand a frontal assault. It is a payoff. And I have to hope that I can make it through a day without assault. If an assault comes, intentional or not, I crumple before it. I cannot withstand the impact. I crawl into myself, wishing to block out the world, hiding, crying, berating myself for my helplessness, forceless as a child. I tell myself that the next time I will stand firm, stand tall, stand up and fight. I tell myself that Body and Brain will step up to the plate for Spirit and defend to the death. But when blindsided, all my resolve disappears with the first unshed tear.
    Empathy, it is my greatest weakness, and my greatest strength. It is what makes me the individual I am. It fuels my passions, and feeds my pain. It bares my soul, flays my emotions, opens me to damage, makes me cautious and yet reckless. Empathy lets me love deeply despite the threat of potential devastation. Empathy opens portals to unimaginable highs. It gives a zest to life that only the threat of a deadly Crash and Burn can bring. It is a fine line, a tightrope with no net. Empathy is my Superpower, and as every geek knows, every Superpower has its Price. I pay the price, daily, some days dearly. I pay the price, but would not change it if I could.

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