A coworker of mine, one to whom I am very close, walked into my office this week and says “we haven’t seen much of you this week.”
When I told her I have been working in my office because there seems to be a pretty heavy negative vibe going around the office and I choose not to expose myself to it, or be involved.
Her response was, “you have felt that too?” We concluded it centered around the office narc.
This got me to thinking. Why is it her and I both were so in tune and plugged in, more so than others. I should state here, she was married to a disordered man who attempted to kill her.
Growing up in such a unpredictable and unstable environment, where things can change quickly going from happy to abusive at the drop of a dime. Children, such as myself, must develop this skill of empathy the way a meteorologist must learn to read the subtle signs of changes in the atmosphere in order to avoid the storm.
As children, my siblings and I had to learn how to read those subtle signs and become very in tune and plugged into the changes in the atmosphere in order to know when to make yourself scarce, invisible, hard to find, in an effort to avoid being the one to bare the brunt of that storm. In lieu of knowing what concrete actions or words could set the monster off, all you had to rely on was the changes in the atmosphere that you could intuitively “sense”. This skill gets honed and sharpened through the years and stays with you. It becomes a trigger and when you feel it, you automatically begin to change how you respond. You begin to walk on eggshells and become the best “pleaser” and “appeaser” you can be. That leads to poor boundary function born from fear.
Unfortunately, what started as a survival skill to avoid danger, later leads us straight into the arms of danger because it’s all we have ever known. It feels “comfortable” and “familiar”.
So we must learn how to embrace our empathy and let it work for us, and others, instead of against us. Much like Spider-man, with great power, comes great responsibility.