I tend to be very observant of the world around me and am continually on the look-out and listening for learning opportunities and stories to share with my listeners and reading audience. Yesterday I had an experience at the grocery store that I tweeted and posted as my facebook page status that got a bit of a reaction out of my friends:
You’re welcome to check out the comments that ensued as I’m not going to go into that part of the story. What I am going to write about is how *I* felt in that moment, standing there in the frozen food section as I watched the faces of the two young girls wash over with shame before they dropped their chins, both of them, to hide their embarrassment. As I witnessed their bubbly exteriors freeze to life-sucking ice, I shivered and wanted to run away.
Thing is, as an empath, I get the honor of experiencing the emotions of others. And when I say, “hide their embarrassment” I could only wish that it was an assumption on my part that that was what they may have been feeling at the time. But, actually, the truth is I could actually feel the shame eating away at their life force. And the most difficult part about this whole thing for me was the knowing that those little girls will forget the moment there in the frozen food aisle, but their cells will not. Now, locked within them is the knowledge that they each are a life sucking force to be reckoned with and if they don’t figure out how to “fix” themselves then they are going to destroy the well-being of all around them – starting with their mother.
At the same time I could feel them shutting down, I could feel their mother’s utter exhaustion and despair. The comment of “you’re sucking the life outta me,” came after she caught my eye. She had yelled the other statements at them with her back to me. She turned angrily, shoved the cart, caught my eye and renounced over her shoulder, “You’re sucking the life outta me.”
She was embarrassed too. There had been a witness to her moment of weakness and she needed to retaliate. I felt within her the acid burn and the walls fly up. To stay safe, I must strike first and I must strike hard. And so, strike she did. She wasn’t proud of herself and, in fact, she felt worse after having said it. She felt more defeated, more exhausted, more drained.
That is the danger of striking from behind walls that are built through battle wounds. Those walls have a tendency to twist and pervert all experiences so they match the wall. They create more of the very thing you’re wanting to avoid. That mother wanted to avoid the exhaustion and the feeling of being drained. She projected that onto her young daughters and ended up feeling worse.
For me, my own experience, as I experienced their kaleidoscope of emotions and thoughts and developing filters, was an awareness of the powerful measure of the gift of language. Within language is the power to heal and the power to destroy. It was a reminder that, while all human beings experience moments wherein they feel exhausted and drained and surely it HAS to be someone else’s fault that I feel this way, speaking out about that and projecting your inner turmoil on another being is never the healthiest choice. And while it happens because we are human and cannot expect ourselves to be perfect, I understood in that moment that we are being asked to become more fully aware of our actions, thoughts, words and emotions.
Had that mother stopped in that moment, turned around, apologized and taken accountability for where she truly was, rather than projecting her misery onto her daughters, there would have been great healing for all parties involved. Perhaps that did happen in the car or later on that night. Or perhaps it will happen in the weeks to come. Perhaps. And I hope that it did – or does. For me, though, it was a reminder that I need to be mindful of what I am thinking about myself, how I am feeling, what I am doing, what I am saying and the effect it is having on others.
Because, when my mouth gets out of control and my emotions spark to life through words that hurt – whether intentionally or unintentionally – I face the chance of creating a wound – in myself and in others – that will be very difficult to heal.
(c) Angie K. Millgate 2011