Sometimes I feel as though I am blinded by emotion. As though each feeling is a shaft of light, and I have the brightest torch shining directly at my eyes. I find my way through a world I can’t see, as I am seeing too much of it all at once- I let my hands guide me, I knock my shins and stub my toes and stumble at the edge of the stage. I reach out and I grasp on to others as though their movements through a world I cannot see will keep me from the pain and confusion I am experiencing. It doesn’t, naturally. Most of the time I just end up hurting them as well. I’ll either hold on to them too tightly, or pull them down with me when I fall.
I can’t see. That is, I can’t feel the world through my emotions. I feel altogether too much all at once. I can’t even tell what direction the ‘light’ is coming from, only that I am dazzled and overwhelmed. I could close my eyes and block out the light entirely, but then, that would just be another kind of blindness. It would be more comfortable but also dark, a self-imposed impairment to my senses. I am afraid of the dark. I fear it would leave me cold and helpless. I have been experimenting with closing my eyes but they have been open for so long now that doing so hurts just as much. I am not very good at feeling nothing. It’s a little too much like being nothing, and when you can imagine what the world looks like without you in it… things start to get dangerous.
People like me are landmines for those who can moderate their emotions. I understand why we are to be avoided. When every feeling is like an unexpected camera flash it gets tiresome quickly. You have to be ready to be a stumbling block and a makeshift ladder, simultaneously the thing that trips us up and keeps us from falling. I understand, I truly do.
What I am learning now, however, is that it’s not the effort people are afraid of. It’s the exposure. If we can’t see, we find our way through our other senses. We feel everything or nothing. When I am with someone, I have to learn their thoughts and feelings by touch. I can’t keep my distance, because otherwise you might as well not even be there. You are wiped out, just like the rest of the world. To be emotionally involved with me, you have to be as emotionally exposed as I am. Think of an encounter with someone where instead of just looking at you, they have to touch you to identify you. There is no personal space. You can’t maintain a respectable and respectful distance. If they are to see you, they have to touch you, and that is the way it is with me and those like me. We cannot see you, only feel you. We are contagious raw nerves, live wires, wild hands searching in the bright light or the unfathomable dark.
Who in their right minds could stand to be as exposed as we are? As I am?
Who could handle that kind of intimacy and honesty, when it’s so obvious to those who watch us flailing about in our blindness that we are obviously completely out of control?
I wish I could describe the relief that comes with having a piece of the world take shape when I’ve been stumbling blindly for so long. I wish I could describe what it’s like to feel the world through another person, to run my metaphorical hands over their emotional landscapes. How much trust and wonder and joy and fear there is in touching other human beings. What it’s like to have friends and loved ones who dance close and then away again, so all you experience of them are flickers and flutters and temporary brushes against your extended fingertips. That when you’re not directly connected to them, you can’t tell where they are or if they’re even there at all.
Not to mention finding someone else as blinded as you are, and the emotional overload that comes with two people trying to experience eachother all at once. From nothing to everything, or everything to nothing? It’s madness.
Those of us who don’t break our necks navigating the emotional wilderness learn to live in a world so full of sensory information that we lose our senses. We learn to survive. We learn how to guess where someone is in our world without touching them, even though we crave to know them. I am trying to learn. I’m trying to find that strange thing people call self-respect that to me just seems like loneliness. Maybe one day I’ll stand on my own and not have to grasp the arms of those near to me to be sure of who they are.
I have to admit, I don’t want to. I want to touch the minds and hearts of everyone I meet. I want to learn who they are, to feel them, to feel with them.
I hope one day someone will be brave enough to let me.
In the mean time, I’m trying to be okay being alone.