I project a detached persona. Distant, reserved, aloof. Hold the tears back, only the weak cry in public. Bottle everything up, don't exhibit what you feel. Do not openly admit to feelings. A Victorian Britishness. A stiff upper lip, but fragile like bone china. I will not shatter in front of you. Hands cold to the touch, an embarrassed hand shake, “Cold hands, warm heart” they say. Overly sensitive, I never toughened up internally. It's sink or swim. Paddle furiously against the tide or bob like a cork on the surface. Overwhelmed, be dragged down. Sink to the bottom. Sit on the seabed, feel, think. Let the emotions settle and wash over me. What I'm unable to verbalise, I write.
How do you explain to someone that feeling anything is painful? Exhausting? That you live by this sense and therefore take on board how others feel all the time? Internalise, insulate their emotions? You ride their highs, experience their dips, and digest their angst or stress. It's draining. You don't have the space to trust how you truly feel, so you protect, protect, protect.
You suffer. It affects everything, from relationships to working life. A gift, but now you avoid getting to know people face-to-face altogether. Even that doesn't prevent it. Once a connection's been made, you feel their joy, their sadness. Pick up on their emotional states like a satellite dish or radio antenna. When you care, it's worse. How do you separate yourself out from that? How do you allow yourself to feel, and yet stop feeling?
You cry silently, bruise easily, but do not get attached to new places or people. You close yourself off from new experiences. You live quietly. Create a cocoon where you can escape it. You find a way to cope with the emotional onslaught. You become a functional feeler.