So, after succumbing to jet-lag and taking a 4-hour nap at 4pm on Sunday, we went to watch the X-Men movie.
(Side note: the theaters here are awesome. For the price of a normal ticket, you get these ginormous armchairs where you can lounge and rest your legs… we heart AMC.)
Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed X-Men. It’s enjoyable, stuff that’s perfectly suited for the big screen, and has just the right amount of fantasy and escapism…
But one scene from this latest installment did catch me by surprise.
I found myself really identifying with Charles Xavier, the younger version. With his abilities to get into anyone’s head (which sounds pretty awesome in theory), all he found himself privy to was their pain. And it was unbearable… he rejected it; we saw that he would rather inject a serum which gave him the use of his legs but also took away his special ability. Crushed from losing his friends and allies, he was running away from himself and his pain.
Of course, no movie would allow a hero to wallow in self-pity. He was challenged to tap into his ability again in order to reach out to Mystique, to change the course of the future. But first, he had to face down his fear, the fear of pain – his own pain, his own losses… and the pain of everyone else when he opened his mind, so that he could reach Mystique telepathically.
Mind reading abilities aside, seeing him struggle, tapping into his telepathy and react to the pain he felt really hit me hard. As an empath, as crazy as it sounds, I’m super sensitive to the pain and suffering of others. All it takes is a look into someone’s eyes, even a stranger’s, and I can see it. I can sense your energy, your baggage, your emotional pain or trauma or fear, doubt, worry, anxiety… even if the person isn’t consciously aware of it, or expressing it explicitly. It doesn’t register in my mind like a conscious thought, but it gets lodged somewhere in my chest. I feel it as though it was mine. I may not struggle and scream or break machines with my mind, but… I feel it. Keenly. And at first, when I had no idea what was going on, I felt like I was losing my mind.
So… when Logan (I know, the absurdity of drawing parallels with an X-Men movie to my life, but stay with me here) let him tap onto his consciousness to reach Professor X, his older, wiser self for advice, I felt another pang. Often I just wish I had someone, anyone, a spiritual leader to guide me on this crazy path. But I’ve stopped looking, for now, at least… Because in the end, even Charles Xavier didn’t turn to just anyone – he ended up turning to himself. That too was a conclusion I came to… everything I need is already within me. I may not be able to time travel (someone please get on this), but…I have whatever I need, when I need it. That’s TRUTH. For me, for you, for everyone, really.
ANYWAY, his older, wiser self told him something important, and true, and applicable in so many ways: that he could turn the pain into strength.
His superpower was really about choice. About choosing to embrace his abilities as the strength that could make him powerful beyond belief, instead of experiencing it only as pain that knocked him off his feet, that brought him to his knees.
Charles Xavier/Professor X (younger self): I don’t want your suffering, I don’t want your future!
Charles Xavier/Professor X: Please. We need you to hope again.
That he had to choose hope, to see the good that lies beneath the pain and suffering, and hold that above all else instead. And in so choosing, he owned his abilities, which ultimately allowed him to own his power and strength and turned him into the leader that is Professor X.
I felt this so hard. Reading books and sites on empaths allowed me to try turning off this ability at will, and it worked, to some extent. But I realized that I tap so much more easily into someone else’s pain, and this really caused me so much suffering, on an emotional level.
I found that there are a few reasons to this. I think that negative emotions vibrate on a frequency that’s just more accessible somehow. And many people, for whatever reasons conscious or unconscious, are actively carrying around their baggage like a storm cloud that hovers above them. It could be baseline worries or fears, insecurities, anxieties, run of the mill human stuff. People do tend to fixate more on the negative than on the positive…
But just like Charles Xavier, the key to unlocking it all, and embracing my empath abilities, was about facing down the pain this trait causes me, addressing my own residual pain and baggage, and starting to see these traits of mine not as weird freakish flaws and something to hide… but as a strength. Something I was born with, something that makes me unique and just KERRIE.
I’ve found the strength to not run away from it anymore.