Feeling Too Much

What is an Empath?

I am an Empath.

There, hope that clears it all up.

(kidding.)

An Empath, depending on what you believe, is either a name or description someone made up (totally bogus) to describe someone who cries too much, is a drama queen, is anti-social, etc. – OR – An Empath, sometimes called an HSP or Highly Sensitive Person, is someone born with the gift of feeling.  Google dictionary defines Empath as “a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual”.

Don’t let the word “paranormal” throw you.  Empaths aren’t evil, ghosts, spirits, witches, or make-believe.  They are real, flesh-and-blood people like you, good reader, who feel on a level much higher than most.  When I describe this to others, I like to say “mine goes to 11” and I also reference E.T. and Eliot.  (If you do not understand those references, get off my blog now. Seriously. Quit. Bye.)

My ability shows up in little ways in my life.  Quirky things, like not being able to watch blood-and-guts movies.  I have a visceral reaction to … well, viscera. I also can’t handle lots of loud explosions.  Honestly my favorite types of films are happy ending, Disney-style, boy-gets-girl ones.  I tend to insert myself into the film, and feel emotions even as I watch, as if the story were real, and it hurts (physically, hurts in my chest) when I have to watch tragic things.  So I avoid them.  My sweet husband is wonderfully accommodating with me on movie dates, even if it means we see something rated PG or animated.   Another way it shows up is in thinking so strongly about someone that they call (or show up), or dreaming about someone, asking if they are alright, and having them respond with “how did you know?”

In addition to having stronger experiences emotionally, Empaths can often “read” other people, or feel the emotions of the people around them.  This is true in my case.  (Remember Deanna Troy in Star Trek?  She had this ability.) As you can imagine, this makes trips to places like the mall and crowded restaurants uncomfortable.  Often, it makes me tired, and I experience sensory overload.  The talking, the music, the clanging, the smells, and on top of that, the anger/depression/worry soaking into my pores usually gives me  headaches and a strong need to nap.  Empaths love to love people, and have a strong desire to avoid confrontation at all costs. (I have a shirt that says “Lover, Not a Fighter” on it.  That pretty much sums it up.)

Some people say that Empaths are not really gifted, they are just people who get their feelings hurt easily.  I am writing to say that 1) That’s a lie, and 2) People who call others “too sensitive” just don’t want to feel guilty for acting like jerks.  Now, it is true my feelings get hurt easily.  But I also love easily and deeply, feel compassion and – of course – empathy in a way that most others don’t, and when I’m happy it’s an ecstasy that most people don’t get to experience.

Most Empaths are gifted in more than one way.  Some can see auras, some have visions in dreams.  In a crowd, they usually go unnoticed, sitting in a corner somewhere watching quietly.  But they are valuable members of society, the “bleeding hearts” who have a tremendous ability to love their fellow man, generosity beyond measure, and an appreciation for people of all shapes, sizes, and creeds.

Mother Teresa is believed to have been an Empath, as well as actor Keanu Reeves, who is famously reclusive, shy, and kind.  Empaths are extremely good listeners, will quite literally hand over the coat on their back for someone else, and do well in creative careers like writing (hello) and painting.

Do  you know an Empath?  Are you Empathic?  I’d like to hear about your experiences.  If you would like to take an Empath test, try here: http://www.empathtest.com/ or here: http://themindunleashed.org/2013/10/30-traits-of-empath.html

If you love an Empath or HSP or want to know how to love them best, please read: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/15-tips-help-you-love-empath.html  AND  http://www.selfhealingexpressions.com/famous_empaths.shtml  AND https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/awake-the-wheel/201305/feel-live-the-secret-life-empath .

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Cinema Dry Spell

Movies.  Let’s talk about movies.

Cinema, film, the theater.  I have a great affinity for the medium.  When movies are good they can make us laugh, cry, and wonder.  They can make us feel joy, curiosity, sadness and pain.

Lately, though, all they make me feel is pain.  Not the pain of being emotionally involved.  Not the pain of reminiscing lost love or the pain of not knowing how the story will end.  No, mostly the pain I feel lately in relation to the movies is more like how it feels to break up with someone you’ve been wanting to leave for a while now but you can’t find the words, so you let them linger.  And every time you see them you’re just like “ugh”.

Movies, you make me say “ugh”.

Where are all the good choices?  My husband and I were last in the theater for Gone Girl.  Admittedly, going to the movies isn’t something we do often, as wrangling a sitter and getting dolled up is infinitely more difficult and less cost effective than just choosing something we’re mutually “meh” about on Netflix.  [Don’t get me started on Netflix – that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.]  Since then, we have not been back ot the theater, and that’s not for lack of trying.  Every time he gets a day off or someone offers to watch our kids for a while, we get excited.  Pull up the Fandango app and let’s see what’s playing!  And then, disappointment.  Every.Single.Time.

Here are things I won’t pay to see:

* Scary Movies, any kind.  I don’t care if it’s ghosts or zombies or supernatural things or hexes or witchcraft or someone wearing night vision goggles running through the woods, I will not see it.  No way, no how.

* Potty Humor movies.  These, and it makes me sad to say, seem to be the majority of what’s considered “comedy” in America today.  Bodily function movies, movies that use words like p****, c***, d***, etc., I will not see.  I am embarrassed for everyone involved in these NONfunny films, from the writers to the actors to the audience members who choose to support them.  If you can’t make me laugh without passing gas, getting naked, or being otherwise inappropriate, you aren’t funny.

[Just eliminating these two types of movies pretty much eliminates my choices altogether.]

* Animated films. I have no problem if we are taking my 5 year old to see the Lego Movie.  That movie was entertaining and, again, the 5 year old was with us.  For a date night, I don’t really want to see a cartoon.

* Stripper movies, soft porn, 50 Shades of “Even Though I’m Grown I Still Think My Grandfather Would Be Disappointed in Me” films.  I don’t watch porn.  I’m not going to pay to watch porn.  I’m not judging you if you watch porn, but for me it’s a no.

So, using this list, let’s look at the options available to me right this minute at our local movie theater:

50 Shades of Grey – no

Spongebob – no

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Paddington – no (but this will be a YES for my son. I adore Paddington.)

The Wedding Ringer – no.

So my option is Kingsman.  To its credit, Colin Firth is wonderful and I could probably be at least mildly amused listening to him read a phone book.  Does it look like the kind of movie I want to spend $200 on (plus $355 on popcorn and drink)?  Not exactly.  Again this week, we will not have a movie date night.  And I’m telling you, it’s been like this for months!

Gone Girl was pretty good.  I mean… well, it was ok.  It wasn’t what  I wanted it to be, but I also didn’t leave feeling like I should demand my money back.  Still, after hearing and reading such rave reviews for the actor and the story and then experiencing its total mediocrity, I was left wondering, is bad the new good?

Are we, as a culture, so used to seeing abysmal films, that when something with even a hint of creativity, a smidgen of hilarity, comes along, we jump up and down and sing its praises?  No matter that the dialogue doesn’t make sense or the costumes are horrible.  Don’t pay attention to the similarities between the film currently showing and that OTHER romantic comedy (many times starring the same actors) that you paid to see LAST month.  In Gone Girl’s defense, the ending was a bit surprising.

Where is my generation’s answer to Raiders of the Lost Ark?  Why has no one written a screenplay that can stand up to  Shawshank Redemption?  Why are extraordinary films so hard to come by?

There is a cinema gift card in the drawer of my desk.  It may never get used.  Maybe that’s a good bad thing.