In the last weeks, as I have been receiving guests to my hermitage after a looong (involuntary) solitary retreat, and especially last weekend, it “clicked” for me.
Below is another fun exercise in cataloguing human neurodiversity (or my obnoxious pattern-matching people-categorising, as a friend has also called it).
HSPs without energy sensitvity
I could never quite comprehend what specific (usually new-age-spirituality-inclined) people meant when they considered me sensitive to energy. Yes, I am an obviously highly sensitive person (some nice appreciative podcasts for HSPs are e.g. on Andy’s site) and presumably also on the autism spectrum (in a relatively mild form). It doesn’t take a personality test to tell that I’m sensitive.
The “aha” moment this weekend came when I spent extended time with someone who is an obvious HSP, but … totally non-phased about … stuff that would phase and fuss me like crazy …
It took me a while (days?) to specify this weird sense of the “stuff” she wasn’t accosted by at all …
Because yes, she was sensitive to the wind, to the weather, to the food, to words, to sights and sounds. To textures, to how to sleep and how to go about the day. To ideas, to emotions also.
To the sunset. To the water.
The ghost at the lake
We were sitting on a platform by the lakeside in an half-abandoned village featuring a ruined vodka distillery in a surreal spot somewhere in the forest between two lakes. When I suddenly sensed my stomach drop, deep. I felt sudden … sadness; no, even more. Anguish, existential emptiness; meaninglessness; all life is suddenly meaningless, burnt-out. There is a heaviness. It borders on despair …
There were probably even more layers to it, which I did not focus on unraveling, as we were talking about other topics. But the feelings was 1. awful, 2. sudden. All the above came over me literally within an instant, less than a second, and it seemed to have nothing to do with anything: the conversation, my friend, the surrounding sights and sounds (which were fairly pleasant).
Nothing to do with my thoughts either, as far as I could tell – I was engaged in conversation on another, non-emotional topic.
In this sense, the thing met my preliminary criteria for possibly being a “lost radio signal”, i.e. a stray feeling, a feeling that isn’t mine – isn’t generated by me (but still felt in my body as if I were a radio receiver).
I checked the other people at the beach … few. A family, a few kids.
Nobody radiating negative energy, as far as I could tell.
Neither did my friend.
The walnut tree
After a while of torment, we finally left that spot.
A few hundred meters away, the feeling lifted. As suddenly as it had come, and also without any reason – without me doing anything (no techniques, thoughts, whatsoever).
I just cycled out of the “zone” apparently.
And that fixed it.
I was still carrying a disturbing residue for a few kilometres.
When we cycled into the next village, I saw a walnut tree lining the road. Beautiful, fresh green leaves, and nuts. I somehow sensed that touching this tree would “cleanse me” of the residue, so I stopped and touched the leaves. Apparently it somehow actually did; at least I was free of that thing for the rest of the day.
The HSP wonders.
Of course my friend had no clue what I was talking about or what was going on. Or why I was even checking whether any of the people on the lake platform were radiating something that corresponded to my sudden change, or why I thought I could see that by merely looking at them (where I, well … can’t imagine that you may be able to look at someone and not mirror a big part of their state of being in their body … so if I was unconsciously mirroring someone who is present, I would have known by looking at them, yes).
Nonplussed by the irritability monster
Another fundamental observation was that I was irritable this weekend.
Perhaps exhausted from a bit too much social and emotional input, having had a guest for a week and then another.
I snapped at my friend for pretty much everything … hopefully not in an aggressive way, but I was just radiating my irritation all around … irritated by disorganisation … by slowness … by bureaucracy I had to do … by the food being there at the wrong time … by our indecisiveness as what to do … just generally by existence, and perhaps by the feeling of having to “entertain” a guest despite all, even though this guest was probably the most unpretentious one a host could wish for.
Whenever I got irritated, I was spilling the atmosphere all around me. Or so I thought.
But heck, she … didn’t mirror it.
She saw I was irritated, but she didn’t mirror the irritation.
The weirdest thing was, it didn’t seem to take her any effort.
She saw I’m annoyed by some minor issue, listened to me complaining, but somehow kept herself separate. Well, she simply was separate.
She saw I’m irritated.
But, at least to my sixth sense, she didn’t feel the (my) irritation in her own system.
For me, that is weird.
Sharing a skin
I later reflected on other people I know who are like this.
I realised, I know who is like that.
I know a few other people with whom I can feel that the moment I give off a slightly different vibe, there is a reaction in them. It’s not a conscious reaction to my vibe (judging me for it, responding to it, whatever) … it’s an organic change in their vibe.
It’s instant, quick as light, and sometimes they don’t even see it.
But I see it.
I sometimes try to play with their vibe by modifying mine – non-verbally, by merely modifying the way I exist in their presence.
And I feel that some people feel this; in their body, immediately, probably unconsciously.
(By the way, the same is true of animals. E.g. I remember meeting a dog last year who was the same – it felt like she basically responds to my thoughts, to every breath. Dogs also vary in the level to which they do this, e.g. my own dog never did.
I also sometimes feel this specifically with … crows. Few other birds. There is sometimes an individual crow or raven about which I know that it senses every muscle twitch in my body as I move past its territory, and perhaps aspects of my mind too.)
I have friends who are like these crows.
They sometimes contact me when I “call” them with some urgent signal in my soul – and these aren’t necessarily the ones I know for a long time or especially well.
And then I have friends who are exquisitely sensitive in many other ways, but – thank God, sometimes – they don’t mirror every psychic vibe I throw at them.
(This weekend this was definitely a blessing; if my friend had been organically, physically affected by my mood, that would have devolved into hell.)
I have another friend who isn’t an HSP at all – quite the opposite. Tough, robust, going with her head through the wall if necessary and not even noticing the dust.
She isn’t like that.
And thank God, it’s probably the only reason she can take trips with me while I complain, get depressed, angry, nervous, what not, and stay totally nonplussed by it all.
But sometimes when we tune in, we can establish the connection.
I can feel when it’s there, and when it’s not there.
But with her, it’s specific to specific persons, to special connections.
With me and some others, it isn’t.
We have this organic, umbilical, skin-less connection to everything, apparently, every stranger in the street, and sometimes trees, houses, streets, lakes, animals.
(From chatting a lot on #ActuallyAutistic, I got the impression that is not uncommon at all with people on the autism spectrum, perhaps especially women.)
Of course, no question that is stressing and exhausting (if you may be in this category, this article series may be interesting).
So … getting some intuitive and logical clarity on this has given me cognitive satisfaction.
This is “it” – these tiny, microscopic, almost ethereal, instant mirroring movements that happen in some people’s (and animals’?) bodies much more readily so than in others’.
I think that is energy sensitivity.
It’s different from being a highly sensitive person (or having special autistic sensitivities) as such, because the essence of high sensitivity or sensory sensitivity isn’t mirroring things in your body, as much as it is simply an intensification and deepening of your sensory (and often emotional) experience. You don’t (involuntarily) become what you look at, though.
You simply see it at a higher resolution, with more colour and definition.
With more nuance.
But you are still separate – in a visceral, tangible sense. You remain you. The other doesn’t infiltrate you … physically, essentially.
Your skin is sensitive, but there is a skin.
You feel things impinging on your skin, strongly perhaps, or subtly.
But these things come from the outside, clearly, they touch you.
With energy sensitivity … things get into your skin, you get into their skin … you become things, they become you. There is no skin, perhaps. Or, if there is a skin – things and people can touch it from the inside, just as well.
In that sense, having a highly sensitive skin, no matter how sensitive – is qualitatively different from having this weird type of no-skin that can turn inside-out, on a whim.
HSP vs. empath
At least that’s how it seems to me now, after observing people.
(What I’m describing here could also be understood as the difference between an HSP and an empath.)
Epilogue for the ghost at the lake
Later at night, I woke around perhaps 2 pm.
I felt a presence, and it had the flavour of this odd emotional mixture that had caught me at the lake. Now it was more like a person. Not from this era at all … a man, but … not modern; no plastic, no gadgets, no communism … I can’t tell, but he must have lived quite a while ago.
I felt that my skin was scorched, rigid, in a kind of rigor mortis.
(I see plenty of whatever-it-is, apparitions, presences, spirits or whatever you want to call it, so feeling like my body suddenly transforms into something creepy is at this point not scary to me.)
I don’t know what had happened, but I knew it’s tied to the atmosphere of that place. A fire? Had that person died in a fire?
His conscience was heavy. He had been stuck in the middle worlds for a long time, wandering for a long time, perhaps. Something unclean had been going on in that village, it was being hidden, even today, in the memory of the people who lived there. There was a grey fog very subtly overlaying the streets; in the old man’s face, a random man working the soil in his yard.
I don’t really know what happened, and seem unable to check it (as is the case so often).
I don’t know if it’s a historical record.
Still, that (old, scorched?) soul seemed somehow grateful for being seen.
It felt relief.
I could feel it transforming, lightening.
Since childhood, sometimes I feel almost like they are grateful.
Sometimes they want to offer me something.
I didn’t accept this time; I’m not sure why, I said “no”, perhaps wanting to keep my purity, not wanting to be involved in any kind of transaction that might lead to entanglement or bondage with that other world.
That choice seemed right.
Because I felt freer. If I keep doing this – not even sure what, my friend suggested I dig the ancient books to figure out what the heck I’m doing – I’ll do it because it’s unavoidable given my nature / function, or out of generosity; no more gifts from the otherworld.
I’m also not sure why I came to this insight / decision, but it seems clear.
Are you an HSP or an empath (or both)? Do you find this distinction useful, and does it mirror your experience (whichever you are)? It would be awesome to have and share more clarity on this.
Also, heck, if you also see spirits please write me, as I can’t find any resources on this that aren’t either judgmental, psychiatric, or written by people who seem to have a) very little if any experience with this b) very little if any critical sense.