Saturday, November 30, 2013

Empathically Introverted

I am soooooo going to get mail on this one!

I grew up watching the original show, Star Trek, and was interested in giving Star Trek: The Next Generation a try when it first came on. After one particular episode early on in the series, I was done. Finished, no more Star Trek for me. (Until Deep Space Nine and Voyager came on and I gave them a try for a while) I loved how, in the original, Captain Kirk had to trust his instincts to make decisions. In this particular Next Generation episode, Captain Picard, a fine Captain in his own right, cheated in making his decisions. Well, in my opinion, he cheated. He had help Kirk did not have. Picard's help was in the form of an empath, Counselor Deanna Troi, who could 'read' or 'sense' other people's emotions. In other words, she told Capt. Picard whom to trust and whom not to. Give me a break.

I have been thinking about Deanna a lot lately. But, why?

Because I have begun to suspect lately I'm more of an empath. Empathy is defined as 1) the identification and understanding of another's situation and feelings; 2) the action of being sensitive to another person's experience and feelings and 3) understanding and entering into another person's feelings. Whenever my dog's kneecaps slipped out of their socket and he limped around the room yelping in pain, I would go into shock and nearly faint until it worked itself back in again. I nearly passed out when the vet removed the sutures from my cat's operation knowing how she felt to have the sutures slide though her like that yet never having had abdominal surgery, nor sutures.
I haven't wanted to start dating for a number of reasons previously stated: lack of money, lack of time, lack of energy, lack of desire, fears of rejection, fears of intimacy, fears of repeating past mistakes, I could go on yet again, but I won't.

Yet, something new has come up in my dating avoidance scheme.

I seem to be more caught up in others' emotions and what I might or might not do that might hurt them. I see emotional issues from their side rather than mine and then think how my actions will affect them; e.g., in addition to the lack of time/energy/money, if I'm not looking to settle down, should I even be available for dating? Is it fair to give someone a false idea or hope? The idea physically pains me.

Yet, some would say its presumptive of me to think he would find me suitable enough for marriage after the first sip of coffee. Maybe conceited, even. There is a chance, I'm not what he's looking for. Plus, I haven't dated in over twenty-five years, I can't possibly expect to have a perfect first date, the first time out.So, I'm bound to make mistakes the first few times out.

And still others would ask me why is it such a big deal? You both might like each other, or not. If you both do, great; take it one day at a time! If you both don't, move on. If he does, but you don't, he's a big boy and can take care of himself. Stop taking care of him and take care of yourself. And if he doesn't but you do, then start taking care of yourself, and move on.

But, am I taking care of myself by not dating at all? One could argue I am. Another could argue I'm hiding out.

And, if I'm still trying to figure myself out, is it fair to drag him through it? A friend I confided all this to suggested he might want to take that trip with me. What if the Universe has conspired for me to learn something from him?
I will just have to learn to live with my empathic sensitivities...but, how? I guess I'll just have to stay in the moment.

In addition to thinking I'm more of an empath, or at least highly sensitive, I'm beginning to suspect my self-imposed isolation has turned me into an introvert, or at least I'm becoming more aware that I could be one and always have been. In the Huffington Post article, 23 Signs You're Secretly an Introvert, I solidly identified with eleven of the twenty-three signs, a bit less with the others and the only one I could not identify with at all said introverts tend to have low blood pressure, I don't. Among the ones I most strongly identified with:
  • small talk is cumbersome;
    • yes, stimulate my mind!
  • parties are to catch up with friends, not meet new ones;
    • more names to remember and what you do and who you're with
    • gods, more small talk
  • I tire easily when overstimulated, especially in social settings;
    • see parties, above
  • I can feel alone in a crowd;
    • see parties, above
  • I don't get energized from my surroundings;
    • too much external energy saps my own
  • I can be "intense";
    • I'm just trying to remember what you said to me
and lastly,
  • I'm a writer.
    • it's easier to express emotion through writing than verbally
      • it's also an Aquarian thing
All this will make it hard to meet someone, especially at the beginning with all the cumbersome, but necessary small talk; and then meeting his friends, and his family, etc. My palms are already sweaty.

So, am I an empathic introvert or an introverted empath? Does it matter which comes first?

But, knowing this also gives me something to work on as I venture out of the safety of my shell.

To read the Huffington Post article, click here.

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