There’s this feeling I get sometimes and I have gotten it for a very long time. It’s a feeling that is extremely difficult to translate into words. My mom and my older sister get this feeling very strongly and since it’s so hard to talk about what it is and what causes it, it’s a wonder that we ever figured out that we all feel it. If you get it, you get it. And not much explanation is needed. I have a few of these little oddities that I’ve been able to talk about just enough to find kindred spirits that feel the same. They’re often people close to me. And then I wonder – are there many, many more of us out there and of course I’d find it in people close to me because I share personal feelings with people close to me? Or is it that I’ve been lucky enough to find people with my particular emotional complexities. I’m probably not that odd after all.
So this feeling. My mom calls it the “squishy feeling.” I think my sister calls it the “mushy feeling.” I’ve never been able to come up with my own name for it but if I did, it would probably be, “The sickening, cold-creeping, beautifully sad, zombie feeling.” I’ll have to elaborate. I came up with two definitions awhile back. They are:
1. A spontaneous heartbreak of mysterious origin that occurs when viewing another person’s seemingly mundane actions or belongings. You are touched deep inside in a way that’s difficult to convey. When it (mostly) happens with strangers, it’s bad and when it happens with people you know and love, it’s worse.
2. A quick, minor and recurrent heartbreak that occurs from subtle actions and possessions of someone who’s usually a stranger.
Now I feel like I’ve probably lost you by now. It’s impossible to explain this! To put it in simpler words, sometimes I get really sad when I see someone say or do something that I speculate is a sign of weakness or whatever they’re doing or whatever I’m seeing makes me see or think I see something deeper in them than is noticed at first glance. Now for my mom, she gets this squishy feeling when she’s out in public and sees an old person fumbling for their money to purchase something. That at least makes some sense. I get that feeling when I see someone’s glasses fall off. I just get so…sad. And when I see glasses laying on a table without their owner, I get sad too. Glasses are my trigger and I don’t know why! Does weakened eyesight make me sad? Did something happen with glasses in my early childhood and now I get sad when I see them?
And sometimes this feeling comes from more obvious occurrences. My first memory of the squishy feeling was watching a film strip (remember those?!) about good manners in one of the lower grades of elementary school. In the film, some “bad” kids run around an old man in a parking lot until he drops his bag of groceries all over the ground. His lettuce rolls away and his eggs crack onto the pavement. One of the kids who is not a “bad” kid and was just yielding to peer pressure follows his heart and helps the man pick up his groceries. Pretty simple message, right? The rest of my class watched the film, got what they needed from it, and ran out for recess. Me? I cried in the bathroom for 15 minutes. I also cried myself to sleep that night. I was haunted by this poor old man dropping his groceries and having them spread out for everyone to see. It was my first major experience with The Feeling. In those same few years, I had a similar experience in the school library when the librarian read us a story about an old woman who loves her pet chicken and this chicken brings her all the happiness in the world and one day it dies and she’s alone. (I’m tearing up as I write this) And some time later, she discovers that the chicken left her a basket of hatched eggs and now she’s not alone anymore. This was just an illustrated book, and not a close-up film strip, and I was destroyed by this book. Clearly, since it’s over 20 years later and I’m bringing it up now.
However, it’s not always that clear and that obvious why I’d be sad. It’s mostly just speculation. I do think those above examples can better help explain this cold, sad feeling I get sometimes because many people would get those feelings from the situations I described. However, do you get that feeling when, say, you have a house guest and maybe you’re putting towels in your guest room for them and you see their beauty bag or suitcase and all of their products or clothes laid out? Or when you see your father’s glasses laying on a book on a table? Or get this one – I get sad when someone gives someone else a gift and even if the gift giver is nowhere in ear shot, my heart breaks if the gift recipient says something negative or unappreciative about the gift. I can’t stand that! Someone could give me a clearly re-gifted piece of junk that I already have, and they could be 3,000 miles away when I open this gift, but my lips will be clamped shut to make any comment that isn’t grateful. You can ask my mom and Cassidy about this one. Maybe we got three toasters for our wedding, (just an example) but I probably wouldn’t even comment on it. And if I thought about each person lovingly buying us a toaster, I’d feel all warm and squishy inside.
Does anything I said make sense? I know it does to at least a few people and that’s enough for me. I’m haunted by the actions of other people. I’m haunted by the way people do the things they do. I don’t know what this means. I don’t know if it’s projection of my own fears and weaknesses. All I know is that my heart breaks for others sometimes – maybe for no reason at all. Or maybe…I’m able to see a hidden truth about humans in these seemingly subtle occurrences. And maybe it hurts for a reason.