I have always been incredibly sensitive to the moods and feelings of others. Based on reading I have done over the years I believe it to be a survivor mechanism left over from an abusive childhood. I have been asked (several times) if I’m an Empath before, and I usually shrug and say maybe a little. The truth is, I don’t know. Whether I am or not doesn’t change how I feel buffeted and blasted raw by other people’s emotional tornadoes most days.
Lately at work, it has been hell. Everyone seems to be about two steps away from losing their shit and throwing knives around. (I have been helping out in the restaurant as a server, so that knife part is quite literal).
I’ve always been sensitive, but I have never learned how to shield properly. I can do it (somewhat) when I focus on it, but during a busy breakfast shift that is impossible. For me, self is obscured by the automatic and the running list of pending tasks. The coffee is low—start more on the next trip back/Table 11 wants more toast—drop it in the toaster on your way to get more cinnamon rolls/Table 14 left—get that bussed so the wait goes down/Did you enter the order for table 13?/Crap, their food is up and you haven't gotten their drinks yet....etc. So it’s hard to remember to shield against casually negative people while all that is flying across your brain, harder still to actually hold a shield against them.
I’m exhausted by the time the shift ends and some of it is physical, yes, serving is hard work, but a good chunk of it is emotional. For me it’s like being constantly bombarded by a howling wind full of sand and rock. Each little stinging hit is annoying, but taking all together it wears me down. There’s no good response to the flying barbs. If you play along it just encourages the behavior, if you sink to their level and bitch and snark back to them it just pisses them off and gives them more ammo, if you ignore it then YOU are the one with the problem as far as they are concerned because obviously you are a snotty bitch.
It’s such a drag.
I’ve spent years sorting out my feelings and my emotional baggage and I’m on a fairly even keel lately. If anyone who knows me snorts in disbelief reading that, well, trust when I say it used to be a lot worse.
I’m tired of being a victim to everyone else’s emotional storms. My feelings are enough, I don’t want to feel anyone else’s. I need to learn to shield better while I work even harder to find the escape route from the casino that won’t leave us floundering financially.
In the mean time, I have to fight off the growing anger and negativity that being there plants in me. I can’t say the things I think (who can?) and I can’t change who they are and how they act. But dear gods, I wish I could shield myself from the psychic miasma that drips from the walls. It’s an act of will every time I have to go there and I’m so tired.