Developing Immunity

I was in a very intense relationship about fifteen years ago—the woman would get suicidal at times—not actually, but just thinking about it with substantial emotional force. I’d find myself feeling those thoughts/emotions as my own and it was all I could do to keep from acting on them, especially in the beginning when I didn’t know their source (I was actually hiding knives from myself—work was a disaster—me and a whole pile of very sharp tools). In fact I didn’t know their source until one time when I was feeling that way and was talking on the phone to a very good friend of mine, who suddenly told me that I sounded just like Joan (the woman)—my choice of words, my phrasing, even my laugh—and I realized I’d assimilated a large part of her, way beyond what I was conscious of. After that I began to notice her more. At one point I was again talking on the phone to my friend when I said off the top of my head that I thought what I was really doing was going through the process of developing an immunity to her—to the way she was. As soon as I said that the whole room lit up, like it’d gone from a 25 watt bulb to a 100 watt bulb, and I knew I’d hit the nail on the head. This was also why I’d watched so much TV—picking up the emotions and thoughts and then dropping them, watching which ones stuck around longer for me (and why those would last longer for me and not for someone else, etc). So I had to learn to protect myself, and that was how I did it—not by “shielding” myself but by becoming transparent, or at least less “sticky”.

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