Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Microstory 1087: Ethel

Viola and I are not the same thing, but we are similar. I’m not sure how to phrase that sentence, since, to most people, she’s a were and I’m an is. She was born with her own gifts, given to her by one of her parents, but I am the way I am just because. I know you’ve already spoken with Edgar, Carrie, and Earl, but I don’t know how much they told you about that. It was a sickening situation that Viola confided in me about. Edgar suffered from reverse empathy, so that he would always feel the opposite emotion as the people around him. This caused him to develop unhealthy habits, and form urges to hurt people. I always called what I had reverse empathy as well, but it’s a totally different thing. Unlike him, I can’t feel other people’s emotions at all. This does not really mean I don’t have empathy for others, because I can still feel bad for someone who’s going through something terrible, or happy for someone who’s enjoying life. My problem is I have my own emotions to deal with, and until Viola came along, had no way of keeping them in. Before her, whenever I was feeling extreme, I would unwillingly force others to feel the same, no matter what they themselves were dealing with. The stronger my emotion, the worse it was for people around me. Like any child, I used to throw temper tantrums when things didn’t go my way, and instead of being able to handle it appropriately, all I did was make my parents throw their own tantrums. We just kept fueling each other’s anger, and it only subsided for any of us when I tired myself out. The only time my family found any sort of relief from the whirlwind that was me was when I was sleeping.

They eventually caught on that something was wrong with me, and tried to give me drugs to even me out. These drugs made me feel numb, which was completely fine with me, because I did not like the way I made other people feel and act. When I was about seven or eight, though, Viola came to my house to announce to my parents that I would be ceasing all medication immediately. She would instead treat me, so that I could learn to control my effect on others myself, and not need any external help. Of course, they argued that what she proposed didn’t make any sense, but they were also concerned about stopping medication so suddenly. She claimed to be able to diminish any withdrawal symptoms I might experience, and once she showed this to be true, they were convinced that I really could help. She came over everyday for months, inducing various emotions, and training me to overcome my body’s instinct to spread them. When she wanted to switch me to a different emotion, she would first touch my temples, and send me these beautiful images of twinkling lights, which she called neural palate cleansers. She wasn’t just helping me keep my emotions in check, which was what the drugs were doing. She was helping me figure out how to accept whatever it is I’m feeling at any moment, but express it responsibly, and not alter other people’s brain chemistry at the same time. Even after our training sessions were over, and I was capable of controlling my—you could call it an ability, though I certainly wouldn’t—she continued to hang out with me. A lot of people are sad that she’s gone, because it’s sad when anybody dies. But I know Viola, and I can tell you that she’s not really gone. Power like that doesn’t just go away. Her soul lingers on this plane, and I know this for a fact, because I can still feel her.

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