This guy came up to me after his noise set and said “I’m mad at you.”
I was like “Excuse me? I’m sorry? What exactly did I do?”
He said “I know that you understood my set in a deeper way than most people would.”
He started opening up to me, and so from force of habit I started slipping into him, feeling his emotions and feeling his past. Usually people opening up to me was an indication that they wanted to be read and understood, even if they didn’t believe in my abilities. This went decently for about fifteen seconds, until he stopped talking, looked at me right in the eyes and said “I feel you inside me, get the fuck out of my head.”
He had said he was mad at me earlier in a joking way, so I figured it was ok to meet him halfway as he started sharing his past, to kind of scoop him up like a cross between a hug and a therapy couch. I told him that it was not my intention to use information I gathered off him for selfish purposes, but to familiarize myself with him while he talked in order to provide specialized comfort.
That isn’t what he wanted at all. He acknowledged what I was doing, told me to stop, and made it clear that he wanted to share with me on his terms, in the amount he wanted, to meet me conversationally with equality and controlled intention.
This situation had never been presented to me before, it implied discipline and controlled exertion from each party, and also acknowledgment that my condition was socially legitimate. When he touched briefly upon difficult parts of his life, I would suck my face in like a lemon, trying to contain myself from “scooping him up.”
He noticed this and went “you want a peek inside my head, with my consent?”
He offered me his hand, and I reluctantly took it. It looked like we were playing tug of war, except our hands weren’t moving, and I was behaving like I had just gotten punched. I was about to start crying when he pulled his hand away and said “Ok, that’s enough, I know when to stop.”
Do I know when to stop? It’s certainly not comfortable, doing what I do. I could have said “no” and not taken his hand. Maybe I’m still suck in some sort of teenage mentality where I still think that living genuinely is living intensely, living deeply at every opportunity.