Shielding and empaths

People who feel empathy or are perceptive  and receptive of the emotions around them often talk about building shields. Building walls. Building cacoons. Building shells. They sequester themselves behind these walls and only venture out when they perceive things to be safe.

But things are never safe, not really. And when they get hurt they retreat behind their walls. And those shields, those walls get thicker. And thicker. Until even stepping outside them is painful. Until, like someone in a completely clean environment, the world itself becomes dangerous.

I say they. But I mean, we. Because I have done this. I built shields. I built a fortress.
Then I internalized the shields and instead of holding things at bay I turned off the thing that made the shields neccesary.

I turned off feeling. I turned off love. Turned off hope. Turned off joy. Turned off despair. Turned off pain. Turned off everything. Until only the highest high and the lowest low could get through. And both were the barest of sensation. So both became the same thing. And if I wanted to feel, either would do.

But this doesn’t really work. What I had done was create a retention basin. It was deep and large and I on the other side saw it as a done deal. But none of the emotions and pain dissipated. They all just seethed in my subconscious. Slowly building. Until the day that I decided, I’d try to turn my emotions back on.

At first, it was as if I couldn’t get to them. I had started the sluice but it took it awhile to get going. I felt despair. And it felt amazing. Pain like you cannot imagine. Sensation when there was none for the longest time, years.

Then the dam broke and I was drowning in it all. And I wanted to build the shields but I couldn’t. There was nothing that would hold back this onslaught. And slowly, I learned to deal with the pain.

Because there was no other choice. Hiding behind walls was not possible. So I had to find another way. Instead of walls.

I became like air, like water. Things could float to me, surround me, but I chose what to take in, what to expel. I bent with the current. Let it take me to joy or despair or love. And I took in what I needed. Sometimes I found myself drowning. No system is perfect.

But feelings can be learned from and dealt with, only when they are confronted, seen and allowed to effect you. It’s easy to want to be safe. But all safety based on walls is illusion. Only in the willingness and ability to protect oneself can one find any semblance of safety.

2 thoughts on “Shielding and empaths

  1. It is a very fine balance to learn to feel without letting feelings knock you down. A lot of people never learn that emotional strength is just resilience: it builds up like a callous from repeated use. Removing yourself from the game only lets it soften and get weak.

    I’ve grown to become a firm believer at the relative symmetry of joy and pain. To truly experience a high level of joy requires being open to an equal level of pain. Shields that block pain also block (potential) joy. There is no reward without risk. There is no gain without the potential for loss.

    I’ve felt the best path as an empath is to learn to steer clear of situations that will drain me by taking without giving back. Perseverance comes from experience when you realize that every time you fall, you will inevitably get back up and want the same things you wanted before. When that cycle happens enough times, it is easier to heal and try again.

    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

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