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FF Sparks (Casual)

Losing my touch...?

First of all, this isn't a 'depressed' post -- 'oh, woe is me, the world sucks' -- but more a serious pondering on an aspect of my personality that influences me greatly and a sinking feeling that something's gone wrong.

I tend to feel others' pain too keenly, and those close to me especially. I can get along with almost anyone (there are a few exceptions), and on some level I think I honestly just believe that everyone /can/ get along with each other. I have this idealized version of the world where if people argue they always make up with each other. And while my sight's not in any way clearer than other peoples', I see misconceptions, misperceptions and other misunderstandings at the core of so many conflicts...and naive, hopeful and idealistic fool that I am, I want to clear up those miscommunications and misperceptions and make people get along.

And I used to be able to do it. I honestly used to. Sometimes I defended a person past the point of reason in order to try and clear up a misunderstanding, but I actually had a reasonably good success rate. And I was happy with myself, and I felt like I had a place and a meaning in the world. Like I actually had a /purpose/. As I've told people before, I judge my relative merit to the world only by what I can provide to others...it's not a healthy mindset, but it's deeply ingrained in me since childhood and I cannot shake it no matter how I try. And it drives me to run myself ragged and burn myself out...but it's also made me a very dedicated 'healer' in trying to fix things for other people.

But lately, I feel like I've lost my touch. My attempts to mediate or clear up misunderstandings only end up making things worse between the parties involved or, in some cases, between those involved and /me/. Like some spark I used to have is gone, and I can't reclaim it. This worries me a little because, technical skills aside and any creative spark I might have in terms of writing or art...there are always people better. But I used to pride myself on my ability to heal others and help them. It was one thing I believed in, to the very core of who I am.

Whether I had finished my college major and been an archaeologist, whether I had followed my minor and become an astronomer, if I had followed my first love and gone into acting, or even dropping out and becoming an engineer like I did...I was a healer. My job was a way of healing, too. As an engineer, I try to make technology more fun and less stressful. As an archaeologist, I would try to heal by finding the lessons of the past to learn from. As an astronomer, looking outwards for solace and answers to give. As an actress, by giving solace through storytelling and fiction. This 'healer' mentality is at the core of who I am, and I admit on some level I probably cling to it because it's such a part of me that if I ever let it go I would no longer be /me/.

But I think I've lost it. What kind of healer does more damage than good? What kind of healer causes more pain than comfort? A healer who's lost their vocation, lost their calling. And it seems like it comes at a bad time, when everyone around me is hurting more than ever and I want so, so badly to help and make things right. To give comfort and take away the pain, and give solace. The holidays should be a time of joy, not of quiet pain or bitter anger, and to see those around me in pain squeezes my heart, tightens my throat and threatens tears...because even if I've lost the touch for my calling, the desire, the original motive is still there as strong as ever.

I suspect it might be because I've worn myself thin, or because I've finally taken in enough pain to distance myself from the world and so lost my old 'touch' for finding just the right thing to say to make everything clear. But I can't be sure, and I don't know how to find my lost vocation again either...and that scares me.

Because without it, I don't know who I am.


Not lost... but simply... wandering...

Well, my past history would say that I never reply to posts from people I don't know at all. While it is true that I often skim the “friends” pages, I’m a fairly shy individual and I don’t generally stick my nose in things that aren’t my business. In this case, though, I can relate in a major way to the things you’ve said, so I’ll leave that history behind me this once.

Mine isn’t a depressed, “whoa is me” commentary either. I am worried about my progress through life, but I’m not about to start drinking heavily or run off to drive my truck off of a cliff. But... I have found myself on a steady decline in the last two years and I have been trying lately to find my way back out of it.

It had perplexed me for quite a long time. I was trying to do many of the right things in life (I have a job, ride horses, love to help people out) and, yet, I was giving up some part of myself without intending to. It manifested itself in a variety of ways, some more troubling then others. Interestingly, I didn’t even notice that some of them were gone for quite a long time. My general crabbiness began to increase. The empathy with animals, that I was so proud of, faded. My awareness of people and their intentions also diminished. My motivations to do the things I loved waned.

My own exploration into the issues that create the above effects has just really begun, to be honest. But as the days wear on I see more and more of the things in my life which have gone astray and now need to be put on track. I have been mildly unhappy for some time (which has a major effect on my ability to function), it just took me a while to see it.

The main thing I notice is that the people I am around have a rather profound effect on me. In trying to have empathy toward people and things, I have a habit of taking in some of their troubles and making them a part of my life. For example, I dated someone who was sort of a “hard soul” for a while and found myself taking on some of that person’s numbness to life. The unique part of this is that it was a downward spiral for me, as my own urge to help her kept bringing up unexpected null results, thus sending me further down the path of subconscious frustration. Really, once this started, the other parts of my life began to crumble and recede into the darkness. It is inherit danger of being sensitive to peoples feelings and opinions or, more specifically, the process of internalizing them in order to understand them.

I read your words about “[wearing] yourself too thin” and “[taking] in enough pain” and they really speak to me. I’ve worn myself too thin, I’ve taken in enough pain, and I’ve grown cold and tired because of it. But... I can again feel the shadow of my heart lingering just below the surface and everyday I try to listen to it and draw it back into the mainstream of my life. It is a slow process, but I try hard to have it influence that parts of my life that it needs to once again. They are slow steps, but the steps are taken.

My experiences may have nothing to do with what you are feeling, but I thought I might try. No matter what, hang in there. We all get lost and wander from time to time. I have no doubt that you will find your way back to where you want to be...

Take care.

Re: Not lost... but simply... wandering...

In some ways, the shadow of the heart still being there makes it harder. Because you /are/ worn thin and filled with too much pain, but you still want to keep helping others and can't, so it feels frustrating.

What you say about those around you having an effect on you is very true; it's something I notice in myself, too. Perhaps I just need to find a way to start taking those steps again, to get back towards where I was.

Good luck on your path, as well. :)
Just a suggestion, but... maybe this is the universe's way to help push you towards change?
Catching up on some of your old LJ entries, and I ran across this one.

You know, it occurs to me that you're not a healer who's lost their vocation - you're just simply a very, very tired one.

Anyone can stretch themselves too thin, and a healer is someone who gives of themselves to help others, in whatever way - whether it be astronomy, engineering, archaeology, or whatever. But hon, you /have/ to have some of you to give before you can give of yourself... and from what I understand and know of you, you've had a stressful time as of late.

So don't worry about others, or healing the world... because you'll do no good if you don't take time to heal yourself, first.

And don't you /dare/ say that it's selfish, because it's not, and I know better. Nyah. :)