My therapist’s wife is going to have a baby. I have known for a few months. I was in the middle of a rant about raising a child in a pandemic. “How could anyone be stupid enough to have a child right now?!” I wasn’t even looking at him while I was ranting; I was looking out the window because I knew he and his wife had been trying for a year or two to have kids and I didn’t want to look him in the eye while I ranted about something that I knew he was trying to actively do. When the words left my mouth, “This is so hard, and I worry about the long term damage on my child’s psyche and the world in which he is developing…” I felt the room’s energy shift and I gasped.
“Oh my god, your wife is pregnant.”
That’s when I looked at him. And he slowly nodded.
I don’t know how to explain it: feeling the energy shifts (especially without looking at someone’s body language), but that is the most recent (and most clearly defined) example of me noticing and correctly reading someone’s energy. It’s pretty hippy dippy, as my ex would say, and it is a trauma response, as my therapist would say. To be so in-tune with others’ energies, through the use of body language, tone, and something ethereal that I don’t understand is a way we can protect ourselves, and experiencing enough trauma can hone this perception of energy shifts. It can be very cool because I can read a room and adjust myself to soothe and agitate as I see fit. Sometimes the imp in me gets riled up and I can get an entire room to argue about which pop tart is best (always strawberry, you heathens) with one phrase. Someone saw me do this and while everyone was yelling turned to me and said, “You did that on purpose…and everyone fell for it. You don’t even care, do you? That was just for fun!” Duh. I don’t actually care which pop tart is you think is best (unless it is brown sugar and then you can eff off), but it can be “fun to be the puppet master of people.”
Someone extremely close to me calls this manipulation the “World as Myth” or pantheistic solipsism, which is when certain writers bring things and events to existence through their minds (Heinlein, Edgar Rice Burroughs, etc). My friend states that there are different levels of influence that people have on the world around them, almost like creating a web of time and energy that can move and entangle people…Certain science fiction mentions that people have knacks (Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series), and I have been told that mine is people, more specifically sexuality (yikes, more on that later). When I am told I have this ability on a level much higher than others, I think of the time someone screamed at me that I always get what I want.
The new-age term would be “manifesting”…if you think about something enough, you can “will it” into existence. But as with everything, certain people are better at it than others. Through the reading of this energy, I have created and destroyed worlds. I have been told that I cannot destroy (marriages, people, relationships, etc). My therapist insists I am not that powerful (When he said this, I said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, Winnicott’s Use of an Object.” and he laughed and said he wasn’t used to a client knowing what theory he was using on them. And conversely, if I cannot destroy, how can I create? Because I can create, so come at me object purists.) I am torn on the idea that I am not that powerful; I have seen the destruction I have wrought.
There is a thin line between manipulation and gentle guidance when it comes to this “gift.” Is an energetic nudge here and a well-placed word there exploitation? Perhaps if it is used to maliciously engender something to your benefit. Is understanding the human psyche what is happening or it is something more? Empathetic people are known to understand (and feel) those around them. I have had strangers cry to me in the line at the grocery store. It feels like an energetic force field around me…I try to keep it tight around me, and if I so desire, I can push out this energy to someone else and influence them. In the past, I didn’t keep it tightly wound and chaos surrounded me. This ability of mine was commented on by my entire family from the time I was a child (perhaps coinciding with me getting sexually abused when I was five?). “The room changes when you come into it.” “People will ignore your sister and flock to you. It is the craziest thing I have ever seen.” “You’re a Lolita.” “You always get what you want.”
So if this “gift” is a trauma response…what is my subconscious goal? And why have I always leaned towards destruction (especially surrounding men in my life)? One of the first sessions with my therapist I warned him not to trust me. I didn’t want to think about Dave in a context regarding sex, and in fact, it took two years for me to start discussing my sex life with him…because I didn’t want him to think about me in that context…because I don’t want to destroy him. His wife seems lovely, their marriage is solid (probably, I don’t want to know, don’t tell me about a chink in the armor). He will occasionally push me to discuss sex and him and I used to get angry. One time I quit therapy for months because I thought he was trying to open that door unethically. I was wrong. I told him to stop trying to get me to take him out of the box I had him in.
The narrative regarding this gift in the therapy room has shifted between Dave and I. From me warning him not to trust me, it has shifted to me begging him not to exploit me. Subconsciously, I must have thought that when you see someone at their sexual peak (orgasm) you have seen their most vulnerable state. One of the side effects of sexual abuse is sexual promiscuity. It makes sense…because if I get to see them at their “most vulnerable,” I am in control. I don’t need to be vulnerable myself (because if a child has been used sexually, why would they ever willingly be vulnerable again?) and they…can’t hurt me. I didn’t even need to like them. I just needed to know they couldn’t control me.
It is hard for me to accept that people (especially men) can see (and love) me without sex. So without relying on sexual prowess to get people to care, what is left? True emotional vulnerability, which I don’t trust (thanks, abandonment issues). So when I make Dave cry (often), I scoff. He can’t care about me…unless it is sexual.
I feel as though this whole thing digressed. Man, this is hard to talk about and understand.
There has been some interesting studies in polyvagual theory and the electric currents that run through our bodies so this isn’t complete bullshit I am spouting about energies. I think there are areas of psychology and neuroscience that we don’t understand yet.