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When an Empath has no Empathy

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I undergo profound changes every November. 

Cataclysmic, visions-of-a-personal-apocalypse life changes.  It’s happened three Novembers in a row now.  Sure, it’s only a blog challenge, but I’m generally blog-challenged, being a poet and not really a blogger at all.  So when November rolls around, it seems like I’m just not allowed to ignore all the seismic emotional upheaval that something of this creative magnitude rips open for 30 days straight.

See, here’s the thing, because you knew there’d be a thing, right?  The thing is, I’m kind of an empath.  Not the ‘I shake your hand and know where you’ve buried the bodies’ kind of empath.  Just the ‘I feel things deeper than most people’ kind. 

My feelings. 

Your feelings. 

Friends’ feelings. 

Strangers’ feelings.

Hell, I even feel your dog’s feelings.

Did you ever see the movie “Species”?  The original, where the government assembled a team of previous strangers with varied skill-sets to capture and/or kill the Escaped Sexy Female Alien Hybrid, on the loose and looking to mate?  Then you remember the soft-spoken empath, played by Academy Award™ winning actor Forest Whitaker.  This version of the B-movie empath wasn’t a psychic, or in touch with the spirit world, or whatever other way B-movies portray the empath.  This version could simply feel what others around him were feeling, and tell you what those feeling meant

I liked that interpretation. 

Because at the roots, it’s the closet I’ve ever come to being introduced to mine. 

And then there’s the downside. 

The thing is, I’m kind of an empath.  Not the ‘I shake your hand and know where you’ve buried the bodies’ kind of empath.  Just the ‘I feel things deeper than most people’ kind. 

My feelings. 

Your feelings. 

Friends’ feelings. 

Strangers’ feelings.

Hell, I even feel your dog’s feelings.

Especially my feelings.

Which in the past, I could ignore for my own sanity’s sake.  But last November, after writing a super-concentrated month’s-worth of feelings, I lost the ability to bury mine.  No more clearly-marked boxes for emotions.  No more handy compartments for feelings to go.  No more mindless default ways to ignore them.  They were, for the first time, all on the same great big plate like a 64-box of crayons melted together in a microwave oven, and it was a fucking mess. 

My fucking mess. 

And I had to choose my path before it killed me.

The title of this post is, “When an Empath has no Empathy”.  It comes from a random thought that popped into my empath head a couple of days ago, about someone from my past, equally gifted with the ability to ‘feel all the feels’ like I do.  A random thought that goes, “What if you were an empath with no empathy?  Wouldn’t that just make you a sociopath?” 

And after reading everything… okay, a few things on Reddit… my non-clinical, non-scientific answer is, “Yeah… I think it would.”

But is that how I want to live the rest of my life?  Just surviving like a spiritual grifter, living off the feelings of others instead of feeling all the feels and helping those who need whatever it is I can do with all the messed up feelings.

My feelings. 

Your feelings. 

Friends’ feelings. 

Strangers’ feelings.

Hell, I even feel your dog’s feelings.

Especially my feelings.

So this November, I was left with a choice.  Do I want to spend the rest of my life finding new ways to shut off all the feelings and face the consequences of knowing and not caring?  Or do I stay on the path, as I suppose was originally intended, and learn how to be who I am?  Feeling, and dealing with my choices.

Like I said, I undergo profound changes every November.

And I can’t wait until December.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

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Until Forever Will I

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Never have I ever taken in

more than

one breath at a time,

like all of the rest

of breathing creation. 

One breath

at a time,

for a lifetime.  

Never more,

and seldom less.

 

Always have I ever taken in

more than

one worry at a time,

like most of the rest

of breathing creation.

Every breath

all the time,

for a lifetime.

Always more,

and never less.

 

And now until forever will I take in

no more than

one worry at a time,

like the bless’ed best

of breathing creation. 

My next breath

and for all time,

in this lifetime. 

Forevermore,

until my rest. 

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Black Friday

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I don’t go near Black Friday anymore. 

The last time was in ’08,

or maybe ’09. 

I left the headlights on while I shopped,

didn’t have Triple-A,

and had to find a tow that would take cash.

 

Today, I don’t have cash.

 

But that’s okay,

because I got Black Friday out of my system. 

After the split. 

Before the long hours to pay for what I needed to dig out. 

For what I still need to dig out.

 

Today, I don’t have cash.

 

I’m still tying off the loose ends of my life. 

I’ll see the grandbabies for lunch,

kiss them,

and pretend that everything is good. 

My own little girl will look me in the eyes,

and my eyes won’t lie to hers.

 

Today, I don’t need cash.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Because Praying Would Make You a Hypocrite

Praying at sunrise

Staring

into space as though,

in it,

you will see answers. 

Wishing

in the dark,

because praying would

make you a hypocrite. 

Asking

for help

is harder than needing help,

when you

don’t believe you deserve it. 

Remembering

that making it this far is

not a guarantee

for tomorrow.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Even If I’m out of Time

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This is a throw-away post. 

It was bound to happen sometime this month.  I just didn’t expect it to happen like this.  To be brief, my computer and my phone are working.  I still have the internet, and I’ve been good physically.  I haven’t run out of ideas, and I haven’t run out of words, either.

What I’m out of is money.

And because I’m out of money, I am also out of time.  I’m out of time to sit and contemplate what to write over the last week-and-change of National Blog Posting Month.  I’ve been busy chasing the money necessary to keep the creditors at arm’s length while I complete my comeback from the work-related depression that forced me to quit my job last June.  Yesterday, I sold my pickup truck to the highest retail bidder.  Sold it for a couple grand less than it was worth, just to get the cash.  The cash that won’t be in my hands until after some bills go to collection. 

I’m not bitching about life.  On the whole, life has been pretty good to me.  For now, just not THIS part of life.  I’ve been told, repeatedly, that life… God, the Universe, whatever floats your philosophical boat… takes care of me.  But today, I can’t say I know that.  Because today, I’m writing a post saying that I could be living in a twenty-year-old Dodge in a couple of weeks.

And the downside to all of this distraction is, I’ve got no time to sit and contemplate what to write.  Not what to write for myself, because I do that every day, but what to write for you.  Because some of you read me every day. 

And I don’t want to let you down.

So for the rest of National Blog Posting Month, I’ll keep trying and meet you here, every day.

Even if I’m out of time.     

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Long Beach my Long Beach

A post, in pictures, of my adopted home.

Long Beach, California.

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PALM TREES HOLDING UP CLOUDS… Pacific Coast Highway near 2nd Street.

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HALLOWEEN MOON… Redondo Avenue near 20th Street.

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CITY LIGHTS – LONG BEACH TO DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES… Signal Hill.

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BACK ALLEY… 4th Street near Cherry Avenue.

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THE PHOTOGRAPHER… Home.

 

 All photographs © Copyright 2017 William S. Friday 

 

Like Someone in a Mirror

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BILL is standing behind a podium at the front of a large meeting room.  Before him is a roomful of folding chairs, all of them reserved for the bloggers of Nano Poblano 2017.

Bill is about to call the meeting to order.

 

Bill: Before we begin… where IS everybody?

 

Two people sitting in the room look around at dozens of other people sitting in folding chairs.

 

Woman: You don’t know?

Man: How many people do you think we’re missing?

Bill: Count the empty chairs.

 

The two people look at each other, then slowly, at Bill.

 

Bill: Why are you looking at ME like that?

 

From the back of the room, a voice speaks.

 

Voice: Ummm… Bill…?

Bill (looking for the voice): Who’s that?

Voice: It’s ME, Bill.

Bill (under his breath): Shit.

Voice: Shit is right, Bill.

 

The person who is The Voice stands up, and begins walking to where Bill is standing at the front of the room.

 

Voice: Have you looked in a mirror lately, Bill?

Bill: Huh?  What does that even mean?

 

The Voice reaches the podium.  He stands in front of Bill, looking at him with a face of knowing expectation.

Voice: Don’t you see what everyone else sees?

Bill: I see what I see.

 

Bill looks out at a roomful of empty chairs.  Only the two people sitting in those chairs are the two from the beginning of the meeting.

 

Voice: Look again, Bill.

 

Bill looks at The Voice, then back at the room full of empty chairs.  Each chair has someone sitting in it.  Bill is looking at a roomful of people.

 

Bill (to The Voice): You look a lot like someone I know.

Voice: A lot like someone in a mirror?

Bill: I haven’t seen that guy in a long time.

Voice: Since the first of November?

Bill: About then.

Voice: He’ll be back.

Bill: You mean it?

Voice: Yeah, Bill.  You mean it, too.

 

And The Voice disappears.

The original two people look at each other, then back at Bill, then at each other again.  They seem confused, and a little bit like maybe they’ve seen a ghost.

 

Bill (to everyone in the room): Hello, Peppers.  I’m Bill. 

Peppers (in unison): HI, BILL!

Bill: Only ten days to go.  You all hangin’ in there?

 

Nano Poblano ends November 30th.  If you believe in ghosts, you might want to avoid mirrors until December 1st.  But hang in there.  Between you, me, and the voice in your head, everything’s going to be okay.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

For as Long as I Remember

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I got burned

for getting

too close to fires,

but I won’t end up

one of those

sad-ass liars. 

 

I’ve been a sucker

for as long

as I remember,

I’ll be a motherfucker

before the

first of December. 

 

Because only

two things happen

when you’re unguarded. 

You’re either loved

or you’re

brokenhearted.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

This is Really My Life

 

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Saturday 11/18/17

 

On the day someone takes my truck off my hands…

…some Pablo Neruda.
 

“That’s how I am,” I’ll say, leaving this pretext in writing: “This is really my life.”

-From “Those Lives”                                                     
 (Five Decades. P. 287)

 
Let’s get the best offer, by day’s end, and take it. In trucks for sale, as in everything else, this is existence.  Choices and choosing.  “Make me an offer, already!  I got shit to do, what with the living and the dying and all that.”

What with the living and the dying.

This is really my life.

#LG

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Spanish Ladies

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“Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish Ladies.  Farewell and adieu you Ladies of Spain…”

Don’t be alarmed. 

This could be a good thing.

I might not be finishing Nano Poblano this year.

Today is Day 17.  I don’t know what that means to anyone else participating in NaBloPoMo and/or its happier-go-luckier sister with all the smiling Peppers, but for me, today, it means re-evaluation.  Not because of a date on the calendar, but because today I woke up before the sunrise and, in the dark, realized that writing to be read every day for one month out of the year just wasn’t on my top 10 list of things I need to do to get through Day 17.

It’s nothing personal.

I’ve noticed in the course of the last week or so, about the time my second granddaughter was being born, that a few… and then a few more… Peppers were missing from the daily call to post on Facebook.  Then a couple of days later, even more stopped showing up in my WordPress reader.  And then came this morning, and the realization that I might soon be among their number.

Today, in my newsfeed, reading media posts that my non-blogging friends shared, I read more than one thing on ‘self-care’ and ‘gratitude’.  And those got me thinking even more about what I woke up with on my mind, in the dark, before the larger-than-usual coffee and the 6 a.m. showing of Jaws on Showtime Extreme®.  Got me thinking that maybe this was my day to join the fallen.  I mean, nobody wants to go down like Quint.  We all want to be Brody, blowing up the shark and kicking into shore, still alive as the credits roll.

But this month has me feeling a lot like Quint, black smoke pouring out of an engine running on salt water and stripped gears, and the sound of “Spanish Ladies” playing in my head, telling me that I may be done. 

Then again, if this day ends with me blowing up the shark, I might spend the rest of the month kicking into shore on the last two yellow barrels, looking for a sequel to the story of what got us here in the first place.  Till then, 

“Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish Ladies.  Farewell and adieu you Ladies of Spain.  For we’ve received orders for to sail back to Boston, and so, nevermore, will we see you again.”

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

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