Did you know that there are different types of cold?
There’s dark, dreary, bitter cold. In the depths of winter, when your body wilts, when it hunches over, curling into itself, trying to conserve energy from moment to moment. This is the cold that wears you down. It’s when you come straight home from work and collapse onto the couch, under a heap of blankets and pillows. You contemplate making tea, but your body begs you, Just don’t move. I don’t have the energy for even that simple task. It’s an emotional, energy-zapping cold.
There’s raw, piercing cold. During a pouring rain in the late fall or early spring. When one moment outside sends stabs of ice into every molecule of your body, no matter what clothing you protect it with. When you’re certain the raindrops will freeze onto your body, forming an ice outline. When the wind shoots raindrops sideways into your face, when the wind and the rain join evil forces to freeze you from the inside out, shattering your Self into zillions of broken ice shards.
And then. There’s beautiful, refreshing cold. This is the cold on a bright winter day. Sometimes after a fresh snow. The sun shines, reflecting off each flake of snow. Your body rises up once again, remembering how tall it can be when it has light. You bundle up, protecting your body, but the cold energizes and revitalizes you. The world is still. The wind has gone to sleep and everything is calm. The only movement is you. Maybe a bird here and there. This is the cold that you breathe in, and it expands into your lungs, filling you with life. The sun and the cold, seemingly opposite life forces, form a partnership that saves you. This type of cold is the one that you crave when you are anxious, when you can’t slow down your mind. You step outside to leave work, or run an errand, or get a change of scenery, and the partnership of the sun and the cold immediately reset you. Rather than painfully freezing you, they gently, but quickly, shock you into an alternative state of being. A reset button. A saving grace. Beauty. Hope. Stillness. Calm.
I have said many times in my life, and probably many times on this blog, that I feel people’s feelings. I know that the highly-sensitive people out there know what I mean, know what it is like to have someone else’s emotions permeate your soul. But I also know that for the majority of people, that concept makes no sense. And for whatever reason, the other day, I found an analogy that might explain it better (and we know I love using analogies to understand things!)
So, you know when you go outside? If it’s windy out, you feel the wind. If it’s cold, you feel the cold. If it’s rainy, you get wet. You can’t NOT feel the weather. And that’s how it is for me. I’m wired to feel people’s emotions, such that I can’t not feel them, the same way that I can’t not feel the warmth from the sun on a 90 degree day.
Of course, you might feel the wind but not be bothered by it. Like, it’s there and you notice it but it doesn’t consume you. And that’s what I work towards. Knowing that I’m wired to feel people’s emotions, but, like the wind, I can notice it and move on without letting it become the main focus of every single cell in my body. And it’s hard! If you’re outside on a day where the temperature is 3 degrees Fahrenheit, you are going to feel cold to your core. Your bones will feel cold. Try as you might, you can’t really ignore it.
But you can try. You can feel the cold yet know it will pass when you go inside. And I can feel the emotions of the loved ones around me, without letting them become my own, without letting them permanently take up residence inside.
Does this make any sense? Can anyone relate? Does anyone have another way to explain it?
Today was a gloomy, rainy, gray day. I hate feeling cold – internally, down-to-my-soul cold, and at times I did. I hate when my feet are wet in my flats, and they were. And I felt a few rushes of sadness come over me, as I often do on gray and gloomy days. And at first my brain automatically responded, with “Stop, don’t be sad” and “Try to be happy” and “Why are you sad, there’s no reason to be sad” but in the spirit of noticing and observing without judging, I gently reminded my brain, “I can feel sad. I have a wave of sadness right now and that’s actually okay. And embracing the wave makes it less scary and less intense. It’s when I judge and criticize it that it gains power.” And it worked, and I felt a wave of sadness but it wasn’t all-consuming by any means. And I had a meeting for work this afternoon, so I went, and I left driving in the rain, and I went to the gym because today, in that moment, the gym felt like self-care, and right now, in this moment, I feel good. And whatever the next moment brings, it’s okay. Because I’ll be there, too. Embracing it, whatever it is.
There’s something to be said for staying present, staying mindful. Noticing. Observing. Without judgment.
I can smell emotions in weather. I go outside each day and the air either smells calm, happy, scary, etc.
Yes, I know this is weird. No, I don’t know why it is.
Maybe it’s a part of my extreme sensitivity and porous-ness. I know that my mom and brother all have some sort of synasthesia/mixing of senses – – seeing colors for days, 3D visual representations of dates and calendars in our brains, etc.
But then, there’s this for me. I usually don’t say a word, but sometimes it slips out: “Do you smell that air, it smells SO calm!” and then…cue the weird look, and the “Um…I didn’t know air smelled like emotions.”
Sometimes it scares me how much weather affects me. I love the high that I get from a sunny, warm day–the rush of endorphins that comes from feeling the sunbeams warming my soul, from looking up at the bright blue sky, from breathing in the beauty of the colorful flowers and grass. But with every extreme happy comes an extreme sad, which is what happens when the sun isn’t out, when it’s raining, when there is no color and life is grey. Most people respond to this with a comment like, “Ugh, I hate the rain” or “I wish it was warm out!” And I agree. But I respond, involuntarily, with crashing waves of hopelessness and sadness crashing onto me, into my body, into my mind. Once, in high school, I wrote in my journal, “The sun came out for the first time in two days today. I feel like a new person. No sun for me is like no oxygen. It’s like I haven’t been able to breathe in two days.”
That’s how I still feel, and that scares me. I so love how good the sun makes me feel, but it scares me that I can’t breathe without it. It’s hard that the intense wave of happiness is frequently followed by a splash of extreme fear, that the feeling will pass, and the sun will go away, and I will feel suffocated again. Oh, I try to live in the moment with the weather just as much as I do for anything else in my life. But it’s such a love-hate relationship, this dependency on the sun.