The Trials and Tribulations of Emotional Contagion
We had an evaluation for my oldest son's food aversions this morning.
The doctor said she'd seen a lot of children who had reflux as babies, and went on to experience similar problems. She seemed confident that we could treat it, but said it would take time.
I watched the appointment as though floating above the room, witnessing the dynamic between my husband, my son and myself through a stranger's eyes. My son was getting bored by the end of the session. He wanted to play with my wedding ring, then my phone. I gave him both; my husband took both away. We seemed like caricatures: Too permissive; too strict. Coddling mother; domineering dad.
Afterward I bought a muffin to share. My son started crying and stamping his feet: He'd wanted one all to himself. I felt my attention fray like cheesecloth. Brain fog set in, as it always does when one of the kids veers toward a public tantrum.
(Is this normal? A dissociative response? It doesn't seem to bother my husband the way it bothers me.)
Since I started "mucking around in my memories," as I call this self-administered EMDR, I've realized just how keenly I sense other people's emotional states. That explains, I think, why I'm so slow to trust strangers. Why I grit my teeth around people with inner demons. I can feel the weight of them looming. I breathe in their energy and make it my own.
I used to hold my breath, as a girl, whenever my school bus passed a graveyard. Didn't want to inhale any wandering spirits, or so the old superstition goes.
Maybe I should start holding my breath during my kids' tantrums. Maybe it would help.