Recently I had a dream that I was a superhero. (This isn’t new for me) In this particular dream, I couldn’t fly or shoot laserbeams out of my eyes. In this particular dream, being a superhero wasn’t as fun as it usually is for me in dreamworld. I was called, “The Empath.” I could feel the feelings of everyone in the entire world just by being near them. It was a little bit Mel Gibson in “What Women Want” but it wasn’t voices that I was hearing. It was overwhelming waves of emotions.
Eventually I couldn’t at all be in crowds and I couldn’t even go to the mall. Just being near people and walking in a crowd produced an endless “pow!” “pow!” of being hit with people’s anger, sadness, elation, humor, deep, deep pain. Lots and lots of deep, deep pain. Endless, deep pain.
So I changed. I couldn’t handle people’s emotions. I could barely detect my own anymore. I was wearing the burden of billions of people’s pain on my skinny, narrow shoulders. So I started to feel numb, to feel nothing. And then the numb nothing turned negative. I became evil. I wore people’s deep, endless pain and consumed it. I then grew it and then I hurled it triple-sized onto the rest of the world – the people lucky enough to not be in deep, endless pain. The world turned black. I woke up with a racing heart.
I often have strange dreams. I often have superhero dreams. This dream has stayed with me and will probably never leave. It’s so…real. If I were a superhero, empathy would be my biggest strength, my biggest weakness. Oh how I’d long to just obliviously fly through the world, far above pain. But I can tell it wouldn’t be like that.
I’ve written about some of these elements before. I’ve written about the mushy, squishy, heartbreaking feeling I get by watching people just…be. Link here.
And I’ve written about anxiety and weakness and how much more equipped I am to handle..anything at some points much more than others. I’ve always had this very wrong and self-centered view that if I’m strong, the world is strong. However, in some ways it’s true. You have more to give when you’re strong. You can change the world, bit by bit, if your strength capital is large. I think I just notice more of the deep, endless pain in the world around me if I’m not feeling so hot. When I’m not feeling strong, I do have trouble in crowds. I shy away from rock concerts I’d normally be able to handle. I even have trouble at the mall because I do feel like I do in my dream – like I’m feeling the emotions of hundreds of people at once. Call it what you will – projection, delusions of grandeur, or perhaps I’m secretly a superhero called “The Empath” and I can feel all your emotions. Whatever it is, it’s both exhilarating and exhausting to feel a lot for other people.
In dreams, my emotions are overpowering and out of control. I feel the barest depths of anger, sadness, joy, disappointment, hopelessness, sexuality. I am a true animal in my dreams. I am a force to be reckoned with.
I don’t feel this much in real life. I couldn’t survive that way. It is my belief that dream emotions are based on reality. I believe they’re true and saturated and that waking life numbs them down, breaks them apart, makes them more palatable. Or at least makes them so that you don’t run around the world like a complete lunatic, yelling at people, crying endless tears, and trying to have sex with tons of people. Should I be feeling things that powerfully in real life? Should I be feeling at least half of it? How do you find the balance?
There’s too much to feel in this world. There’s love for a toddler who trips over her own feet running into your arms and how sad and beautiful that is at the same time. There are aging parents and grandparents and the knowledge they won’t always be there; the knowledge I won’t always be here. Love is too beautiful, too sad, too anger-inducing, too sexual, too much too much too much. So we’re half numbed in waking life. I wonder if that’s how it should be.