I belong to an online journaling community and have been re-reading my journal entries. It is therapeutic and also helps me to find topics for writing. Today, I found the following sentences in an entry from a year ago:
“I do not need to suck in his energy.”
“I think I am an energy vacuum. I tend to take on others energy.”
I have identified this trait in myself, how I can suck in others energy. If I am around uplifting, inspiring people, I often feel empowered and positive. And if I am with people who are negative and lost in the victim-hood role of how the world has done them wrong or how their children never listen or their husband just doesn’t understand or…. well, then I may find myself feeling similar emotions and finding everything wrong in my life.
For this reason, I have always enjoyed being around people of like mind and finding others who “vibrate at a higher level than myself”- meaning, those who are further along the spiritual path- those who have similar beliefs as myself who are where I would like to go- people who are being the kind of person that I choose to be, that I aim to be. I found this frequently when I first attended Unity as well as when I first became a parent and also when I first began homeschooling and involved in the homeschool community. As I evolve, the people who “raise me up” change as well.
I also enjoy being around all people, most people. I enjoy getting together with other homeschoolers of various beliefs and methodology. I choose to homeschool my children to provide them with more opportunities of real life than they would get in a classroom filled with people all born in the same year. I look for more diversity for my children. I like living in a large city. I have always enjoyed meeting new people.
I have met an uncountable number of people in my life. I lived in 4 different cities growing up, spanning 3 states. I moved away again for college and then after graduating, I up and moved once again. In the work I have done over the past 19 years as an Occupational Therapist, I have met many people, many people, far more than I can count!
And since having children, getting involved in La Leache League, later becoming a Leader, joing and being involved in Unity, serving as Co- Youth Ed Director at Unity, along was well as homeschooling my children and creating a homeschool website all have led me to meet many new people.
It has taken me over 40 years to truly understand that different people play different roles in our life. We need to see each person for the role they play in our life and not expect more from them outside of the role they play. We also need to realistically see the roles they fill in our life, the specific things they are and have done for us and how they enhance our life. By this, I mean more specific than sister or mother or friend. I learned this lesson when my husband, Don, suffered a sever heart attack and was hospitalized for 12 days. Large numbers of people, friends came to my aid, more friends and help than I could have imagined.
I also learned I couldn’t “unload” all that I was going through with everyone. Each person in my life filled a need and this was all so clear during this time period when Don was in the hospital. At first, my goal was to meet my children’s needs. I needed to be at the hospital as much as possible to help my husband and so I sought people who could go to my home and be with my children and take care of their needs. I had family who came to stay and took care of laundry and meals. I found friends who enjoyed my children and came to spend time with them. And then, as time passed and I saw that I was becoming emotionally, physically and mentally drained beyond an average state, I identified those people who I could reach out to who could help uplift me spiritually and emotionally. Those people who I could be most honest with, people who knew me well, and who were good listeners. People who I used to search for and identified as “best friends”. Frequently in my life, I did not feel like I had any “best friends.”
I see it with a new perspective now. All those wonderful people who helped me and my family in our time of crisis are all good friends or “best friends”. Some of these people are acquaintances and some are those I have known a long time. Each filled a role and helped me and did what they could do “best” for me and my family.
I look back on that time when my husband was in the hospital in amazement. I was so focused those 12 days. I was being the parent I had always hoped to be. I was being the person that I aim to be. I was in the moment and living life, one moment at a time. I would not re-do any of it and would not go back in time because of all the challenges that followed. It was a crazy time and so many aspects of that time period I would not want to live over. Yet, I miss the simplicity of life and how well I handled all of it. I miss the simpleness of life at the time. I was either at the hospital taking care of my husband or home taking care of my children and then somewhere in there, as I learned the hard way, I had some time to take care of myself.
Maybe I enjoyed that time because I was so hyper-focused on MY LIFE and MY PROBLEMS and felt almost no embarrassment to ask for help from others. I put out countless emails and messages to my friends and the homeschool community asking for help including, people to meet us at the hospital and hang out with the kids, for people to come to my house, for people to take my children to activities, for a recliner chair and even help with food and shopping.
Because I was so HYPER-FOCUSED on my life and my needs, I was very much empowered to live MY LIFE.
I say this in contrast to the person I usually am, who is busy helping others. I did not have time to take in the energy of others, to get lost in what was going on in their lives. Not that being involved in others lives is bad, not at all but for me, I tend to get “sucked into” others lives and their energy, including people who are negative. I tend to be a good listener to others so often that it feeds my issue of feeling invisible and unheard. I often let my needs to unheard, I often don’t speak my mind and say the things I need to say especially in a social gathering of several people.
And so for those 12 days in my life I had an excuse, an out, to not worry about others and take care of myself and my family and ask for all the help I needed. I see the gift in that experience now as I write this. I can look back on that time and make an effort to take from that experience the aspects that can serve me now. I must remind myself of that lesson I learned- the roles that people play in our lives and not expect all people to be all things to me. And I must remember the role I play in each of those people’s lives and live that role fully, whether it be listening to them or choosing not to listen.
It is a balance. It is not about giving or taking, but both. Give and take.
Yet, focusing first on ourselves and our needs, first and foremost, can only serve to help us be a better version of our self.
How can we help others if we can not first help our self?
It brings up the line I like to quote from the airlines:
“You must first put on YOUR oxygen mask before you can put on the oxygen masc of your child or the person next to you.”
We must first meet our needs and in doing so, then we can help others to meet their needs.
I still enjoy meeting new people. I am busy with my local homeschool website that creates a community for area homeschoolers to find information, resources, support and connections. The site has over 1200 members and is growing quickly. Each person has been individually approved and welcomed by me or another administrator (there are only a few). I like getting out with my children to field trips and relaxing days at the park. I like talking to other parents. I like spending time with family and good conversations. I like reaching out to friends on Facebook . I like reconnecting with old friends, spending time with current friends and making new friends. I like traveling, visiting people and going on vacations and all the people we met along the way.
Yet, for me, it is essential that I take time regularly to choose to be around people who “raise me up”. People whose energy inspires me and motivates me to be more of the person I choose to be, my best self.
Are you an energy vacuum?
I would love to hear your experiences and perspective. Do share so we may all benefit.