#BlogBattles, Stories...

The Case Against Shielding… (#BlogBattles: Airtight)

(An excerpt from Diary of an Empath: Volume 5)

MAY 8, 2019:

Ever since I was a child, just beginning on this journey to become what I have always been, I have been told, and taught, to shield myself. A necessary skill for one such as I. So I was warned, and so I believed…

“You are Light and Love,” the Teachers would impart. “And all things twisted and dark will be drawn to you. You must learn to shield yourself, to protect yourself at all costs, for if you fail, the darkness will swallow you, and you will not want to be the monster you become!”

The monster you become… While other children hid from monsters in their rooms, in their closets, under their beds, I fought a constant battle against the monster who lived within. Always a threat. Always watching. And waiting. For a mistake. For a break. For a chance to be free…

Why would anyone say such things to a child of two or three? How can any child live under such constant threat, such persistent fear, and not seek refuge in insanity?

To be fair, though, I must admit such fear drove me on when all I wanted was to be left alone. And there seemed to be some truth to what was told to me. The world outside was full of malicious beings. There were Wraiths and Vampires, Demons and Deceivers, all seeking to weaken me. There were psychopaths and sociopaths, narcissists and victims, each trying to entrap me. All of them drawn to me. And I, being an empath, reaching for the wounded spaces within each and every one of them…

So yes, shielding was an important skill for a young empath to learn…

My favorite, of course, was the glass house. Surrounded on all sides by clear barriers that allowed me to see what was happening in the world, without letting any of that world actually touch me. At first it was permeable, allowing in breezes and scents and sounds. But in time I could no longer stomach the smell of smoke and death and decay in the dying world I witnessed. Nor could I sleep with the screams of the tortured, the sobs of the broken, the moans of the wounded, or the hopeless prayers of the forgotten. I shuddered at the gloating of the bullies, the boasting of the “winners,” the maniacal laughter of lost causes. So I closed off the shield, making it airtight and impenetrable…

And I was alone. At last. A mere witness to the suffering all around. For a time that suited me, providing a respite from the unrelenting pressures of life as an empath. For a while. And it was tempting to stay in there forever…

Until I remembered the monster who lived within…

He showed himself to me one day, a reflection in the glass surrounding me. A massive green head, horns tipped in gold, burning amber eyes intense and focused, staring straight into my soul. I was terrified! I turned to run, but there was nowhere to go, trapped as I was in my self-made prison. I shouted at the world outside, pounding on the glass walls to get their attention, crying and fighting, and begging to be saved! But my fear had made me strong, and my shield reflected that, and none outside that barrier even slowed down, blind and deaf to my suffering…

As I evolved, so did the shield, becoming more flexible, more fluid, like an aura surrounding me. At least it allowed me to move, to run, to hide more effectively. For now I could blend in with the masses, pretend to be whatever I needed to be. It let me interact with the others of this world. The darkness came and surrounded me, but it could not touch me. I felt safe. Finally…

Until the day Truth blindsided me. I woke up choking on my own hypocrisy. Such sweet irony, a bitter pill to swallow. For here I was, a fully trained adult empath, completely isolated from the world I chose to inhabit. I had been taught a hundred words each to describe anger, fear, sorrow and grief, but I could not feel any of them myself! I knew a dozen strategies for dealing with common points of suffering, yet I could not heal those I could not reach!

I heard the monster laugh within, a guttural sound of victory. For I had, indeed, become what I most feared and loathed: a relic from another time, a useless tool to be enshrined. I panicked, short of breath, suffocating in that airtight space. I struck out against all I had been taught, shattering that shield, and all the others that revealed themselves to me. Layer after layer fell away, until there was nothing left but me…

And the darkness rose and smothered me…

Who knows how much time passed as I stumbled through that forsaken world, baffled by its twisted logic, gagging on its corruption, chafing against its injustices, paralyzed by its suffering? It was a nightmare; no longer a question of theory and practice, but an endless flight through a labyrinth of pointlessness, with walls ever closing in on me. And a new form of airlessness engulfed me, making it impossible to breathe…

But the beast within retreated, content to watch and mark my progress…

And I emerged. Eventually. Tripping into that center space, cloud covered but light at least. I lay there on that dewy grass, exhausted, and simply breathed… And peace settled over me.

*** *** ***

Today I met a man who seemed so perfectly normal. Quirky and fun and self-aware. Until someone asked him a question he couldn’t answer, a question about what he wanted. And I watched him freeze, begin to stutter, ’til panic stole his voice completely. I heard him gasping like an asthmatic, knowing how his throat was closing. I felt his heart racing, my own reaching to sync with his. I reached out to touch him, his whole body trembling against my fingertips…

And I understood exactly where he was. Trapped within his own airtight shield, made strong by deeply held fear. Anxiety. Crippling, unreasoning, and suffocating…

“Breathe,” I whispered soothingly. “Just breathe…”

(1042 words)

Written for #BlogBattles: Airtight



11 thoughts on “The Case Against Shielding… (#BlogBattles: Airtight)

  1. Write, Lisa, just write.
    Funny, but the question asked of the man is the very question that my sister asked me one night, almost twenty years ago, and I could not answer it either. There was nothing I wanted for me, and that helped open my vision wider than it had ever been. I wish I could remember more, but there was no me to want something for…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Being an empath in these lower astral worlds is a tough walk. I can understand the choice made by the protagonist not aware of another option which calls for a life lived in surrender to compassion through self empowerment. We are not meant to know we have such a choice because it disempowers all forces inimical to our well being. Though compassion makes the most sense for us few even consider its value because they are programmed to believe it isn’t possible and predictably without self empowerment it isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Too bad you were not one of her teachers, Sha’Tara. Unfortunately, there were none who offered her that choice. At least not then. Perhaps she will discover that path on her own and record it for future empaths to learn… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Deep … Deep … I’ll be thinking about this one for a while. While reading it I kept trying to figure out what to take at face value and what needed to be explored more as symbolism. I also wasn’t sure if the protagonist was part of our world or a completely different world, but that just added to the whole deep mystery. The ending feels like we’re leading to something else … do you plan a follow-up to this one?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm… “Plan” is a very definitive word, one that I tend to avoid at all costs when speaking of my writing. 😉 I have made many plans that I never followed up on (at least not yet, anyway). And most of what I have written, at least in recent years, has been inspired by something fleeting (like a prompt word, in this case). Yet I agree that this piece feels like a small part of something larger. I think that’s why I added the whole fictional “excerpt from…” at the beginning. To my knowledge no such “Diary of an Empath” exists yet, much less five volumes of it! Lol!

      As for the vague “boundaries” within this work (face value/symbolism, our world/another, etc.), at least some of that was intentional. I was trying to capture the feeling or experience of life as an empath, for whom such boundaries are often arbitrary and confusing. It also reflects my own experiences as a “diagnosed schizophrenic,” and the difficulties I often face(d) trying to define overlapping realities. Given that, I can’t even tell you, though I am the author of this, how you “should” interpret it, for I do not know myself…

      Thank you for reading it, for commenting so honestly, and for being so supportive. As a fan of your fiction, it means a lot to me! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m back on the web! But maybe I’m not the only one having technical difficulties? I missed seeing your first of two stories this month on the listing.
        Keep up the good work, Lisa. I’ve also been enjoying your fictional forays!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yay! Welcome back! I noticed that the first one was missing as well, but I just assumed Ms. Rachael was overwhelmed, and would catch up to it eventually.

        Thank you for your continued support. It IS motivating. 😁


  4. Pingback: #BlogBattle Stories: Airtight | BlogBattle

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.