When people meet me in real life, they have a tendency to, well, not like me very much – and I know this because, as a self-proclaimed approval-hungry beast, I am very good at telling, usually in the space of a second or so, whether someone likes me or not.
In fact, I am probably a little too good at reading people’s thoughts and feelings. This is a skill I am occasionally proud of, because when you are disliked all you generally have left is self-pride, the last floating plank of the raft of your self-esteem, or something like that. Basically, I feel bad when people don’t like me, and to make myself feel better about being disliked my heart secretly whispers at least fifty times a day “I can see through you all! Your skin is translucent, your flesh and bones and heart exposed to my gaze!” which generally cheers me right up.
What’s more, and this is going to sound a little crazy, my intuition exists as a force-field around me, easily contracted and expanded according to my whim, or, if I am feeling stressed, not according to my whim. Don’t laugh, I mean, it does sound ridiculous – but I can actually tell what a person is feeling, and sometimes thinking, just by walking past them on the street. It’s as if, in walking by them, wisps of their aura are attracted to me, which my intuition then scan and read, instantly gauging their psychological makeup in that moment.
I am perfectly sane, I assure you. There is much in the world which we do not yet understand, and I believe this is one of them.
For not only can I pinpoint what I person is feeling by being near them, or sometimes even by spotting them from the other side of the street, I can also sense how certain people are feeling if I have an emotional connection to them by focusing on them in my mind. Once again, let me assure you that I am not crazy. Time and time again, my mind has drifted towards certain people, only to be at once assaulted by emotions not my own, unrelated to the personal relationship I have with the person I am focusing on, anger bursting like a red flower through my body, or dread trickling through my chest like poison. It feels almost like an emotional invasion, forcing me to shut my eyes tight and take a deep breath, the sensations only dissipating when I stop focusing on that specific individual. Frankly, I do not know what it is, or why it occurs; all I know is that it has happened, on multiple occasions, and is highly irritating, not to mention unnerving, at least the first couple of times.
Everything has its downsides.
Standing in crowded areas or around other people for extended periods leaves me drained, even if I do not interact with them, because it is like being an antennae picking up on twenty signals at once, my mind overloading on all the feelings and thoughts it is absorbing.
Walking down the street, passing person after person after person, quickly gets tiring if I do not try to centre myself by focusing on my own thoughts and feelings.
Being around anyone with cruel or unkind thoughts saps me more than anything else, even if they appear outwardly nice and caring.
But most of all, having this ability makes some people dislike me – a lot. Of course, there are other traits forming the whole of my personality which perhaps makes me less likeable than others: my extreme introversion, my tendency to daydream in the middle of conversations or retract into the “shell” of my mind when it is overloaded by its surroundings, my preference for books and animals to people, just to name a few. I am not gregarious by nature, though very curious, a contradiction which causes its own share of problems. However those who dislike me on sight with a passion tend to be a little intuitive themselves, and therefore can sense that I am seeing through whatever facade they are trying to portray, which thus causes them to feel uncomfortable and exposed around me.
Such interactions are silently awful. Don’t you think a lot of life is silently awful? Those two words should be used in tandem more often. Generally humans like to keep part of themselves hidden from the public eye when out and about and interacting in society. So when someone comes along, out of the blue, and stares deep into your eyes and deep into your heart, sees the good and the bad and the awful, defensiveness and hatred towards that someone would be a natural reaction. Without even meaning to, I appear a threat to certain people, and, being sensitive, I am often left after conversations with them very hurt and angry – though whether my hurt and anger is my own, or theirs, is often hard to tell.
This skill is often silently awful in other ways.
Like having to stand there, knowing you are being lied to even if logically what they are saying is the truth, whilst pretending you do not know the other person is lying.
Like knowing someone is helping you out of self-interest and would not, in truth, care if you keeled over and died so long as it did not affect them, yet having to be grateful and obliging.
Like standing in a check-out line and knowing the man behind you is thinking unscrupulous thoughts and having to pretend it does not bother you.
Like seeing into the true, rotten core of so many people who are loved and accepted by those around them without being able to say anything.
Or delving so deeply into the psyches of certain people by spending extended periods of time around them without speaking to them, such as in a classroom, that you become scared of talking to them, in case they see your understanding of their suffering in your eyes and feel too vulnerable.
Over the last few years, as I have learned to recognise and control this gift, what I have discovered is that people do not want to be seen. Even those who secretly want someone to understand them, when faced with such a person, will hide and shrink away. Also, I have discovered that while much of humanity is blind and stupid, cruel and indifferent and unthinking, much are also scared and wounded, which manifests itself as cruelty and indifference, though they are not the same.
More than anything else, being able to see into the workings within brains and hearts, which are sometimes beautiful, sometimes unsightly, has helped me to feel closer to humanity. Some people are bad, very bad, and it is frightening to see it but there is nothing I can do to change that. Most, however, are actually kind and good, if a bit tired and frazzled.
A long time ago, back when this gift was confusing and exhausting me, I proclaimed myself a misanthrope, but no longer. These days, I love people, I love humanity; we all endure the silently awful, the silently good, silently in our homes behind doors and under blankets; and we all generally want the same things, love, security, fulfilment, sunshine and grass.
Which is why the next time I sense someone needs a touch of kindness in their life, I will smile and help them, so that my gift heals rather than hurts both me and those around me. It’s the least I can do, in this silently awful world.