Empaths: To Shield or Not to Shield
All it takes is once and youâ€™re hooked.
Itâ€™s another hour before dawn and you wake with the strangest, awfullest feeling that something is wrong with someone you love. You feel their fear, their dread. You know the energy signature of the person whose feelings are flooding through you. Normally loving, strong, taking care of you.
It canâ€™t be him. Heâ€™s not sick. And, Itâ€™s the middle of the night. He should be in his bed, asleep.
But no matter. The feelings donâ€™t stop. If anything, they become more intense.
Finally, unable to sleep, your own stomach churning, you pick up the phone and make a call. You ask the other person, who lives 100 miles closer to your granddad than you do, to please check in on him. Your request is met with yawns. Youâ€™re chided for being a bother, for your sillinessâ€¦for being disturbed by what must have been a nightmare.
â€œI hope thatâ€™s all it is,â€ you say. Â â€œJust a bad dream I canâ€™t remember thatâ€™s causing these feelings.â€
And, finally, you convince the other person to go check on your granddad–to prove how silly you are.
A few hours later, you learn heâ€™s still alive. Because of you. Because of your silliness. Because of your gift.
And youâ€™re not only relieved that Granddad is okay, but thereâ€™s something moreâ€¦a new feeling. A feeling of having saved someone with your superpower that you didnâ€™t realize was a superpower. That this gift is a blessing in disguise. That you can help people. That you can save people.
And thereâ€™s nothing like that feelingâ€¦nothing.
Over time, you learn the darker aspects of your gift. That it is as much a curse as it is a blessing. You ride the currents of other peopleâ€™s emotions, tossed on their emotions. Motion-sick and at their mercyâ€¦until you learn to shield. You learn to keep out the negativity, the heaviness, the overwhelming emotions. You learn to seal yourself off from your sensitivity to others’ emotions and energy. You learn that through shielding, you can find a place of serenity. You come to the understanding that you can live without being a superhero who saves everyone in trouble or in pain or in fear or in anger or in hurt or in heartbreak.
No matter how great that feeling was of saving someone, you prefer to live with serenity through the turbulence of other peopleâ€™s emotions, desperately trying to find your own boundaries and hold tight to them.
Youâ€™re okay. Youâ€™re all right. Youâ€™re okay. You can deal with not saving everyone or the adrenaline high of knowing that you might can save everyone because youâ€™ve never lost anyone.
And then, it happens.
For the last several months, your dad has been a jerk to the nth degree. His attitude is hurtful. His words are toxic. You keep your shields up for your own preservation and you go on about your business. Youâ€™re fine. Youâ€™re serene. Youâ€™re raising your kids and all is well.
You take your kids out for an evening of pizza. And as you park the car, your 14-year-old daughter asks to borrow your phone. She wants to make a phone call. She wants to check on her grandmother because she has the strangest, awfullest feeling that something is wrong with her grandfather. You go cold inside–remembering what that feeling is like–as you hand her the phone.
She dials your parentsâ€™ number, but a neighbor answers and explains that your father, your daughterâ€™s grandfather, is, at this moment, being loaded into an ambulance. Even though no one couldâ€™ve stopped his heart attack, you still lie awake at night wondering, if youâ€™d had your shields down, would you have felt something in time…to have warned him, to have called and said goodbye, to have prepared your mother for what was to come?
And thatâ€™s when the self-torture begins.
Can you ever let down your shields? Do you ever again dare? Are there not still people on the planet that you love, that you might be able to save?
Itâ€™s far easier living without the feeling of owning a superpower and being able to save others than it is to live with knowledge that you have a superpower and the ability to save others and yet you donâ€™t.
And so, you make it all your responsibility–to stay unshielded, to keep yourself open to any pangs of fear or anger or physical pain that might signal someone needs your helpâ€¦someone you love, someone you donâ€™t want to hurt or die or be in trouble. And so you bear it because you donâ€™t know how you would ever bear it if you lost someone and the curse you bear everyday might have been the blessing that stopped it.