I Want to Suck Your… Emotions?

I absorb emotions. I believe it’s a form of empathy gone awry, but I find many times I’m extra sensitive to the emotions in the room. I’m an unintentional emotional vampire.

By birth, I’m technically a middle child. My older sister is so many years older that it can at times mean I act like an older child as well. Being a middle child comes with distinct emotional baggage. Most middle children are quiet peace makers, fading into the background, and easy going. I have older child tendencies as well. I’m a perfectionist with anxious leanings. I’m burdened by the need to excel and overachieve. I also feel obligated to take care of everyone and be responsible for all things in my life. I can’t see the future, but I can imagine every single possible worst case scenario and fret about it.

I’m also super susceptible to emotions. Empathy can make me great at my job, but it can also burden me with anxiety.

There are times I don’t know if what I’m feeling are my own feelings. Some of this could be blamed on my upbringing, on being a middle child with older child tendencies. It could also be a result of a mother who can be overbearing.

Recently, I saw something on twitter about the fight/flight/fawn response. I’m a fawner. Too often, I allowed what was expected of me to cause me to back down when it came to my own desires. I’ve learned, after being in an environment where what I wanted was often ignored, that being quiet and acquiescing calmed an otherwise volatile situation down. My opinion didn’t matter as long as everyone was happy. I’ll take on others’ expectations and responses because it means there aren’t terrible emotions or heated responses to deal with in my orbit. I’m a retreater/pacifier.

I don’t always know if what I’m feeling is coming from me. Am I feeling this because this what what the other person expects? Have I stopped having an opinion because I’m uncomfortable and can’t figure out how to say what I’m actually thinking? It all ends with me struggling to make decisions because who is going to be unhappy about what I decide? So I just can’t decide on anything. One of the questions I loathe is “what are you going to do?” My response? “I don’t know. What do you think I should do?”

I’ve always found I lack a good grasp on what my needs are. More accurately, I on some level know my needs, but can’t articulate them. In the heat of the moment, if you ask me what I think, my reply will be “I don’t have any thoughts.” Maybe on some level I’m waiting to be told. Or I’m waiting for an opportunity to decompress. All the intense emotions just make me shutdown. I don’t feel safe to say what I think because someone will get mad. Someone always gets mad when I say what I think so why bother?

This is all a coping mechanism.

This has been a life long struggle. I retreat and offer the responses expected. I have to disengage from the emotional moment because I don’t know how to respond, but give me time to write it out and I do a bit better.

I’m 35 years old and have no fucking idea how to figure out my own feelings. For someone who can’t recognize their own feelings though, I’ve always struggled with feeling too much.

But it’s what I pay my therapist the big bucks to help me sort out, isn’t it? She’s been pressing me lately to be aware of and vocal about my needs. Not to let what others what derail verbalizing what’s going on inside me. She’s also trying to help me see how every emotion (even the ones I don’t recognize) have a place. They’re trying to get me to deal with or cope with or navigate something. I’ve run away from my emotions for years because I don’t know what they look like well enough to deal with them.

Every thing is baby steps, right? Little by little we grow and deal with our own baggage. My suitcase is taking time to unpack.


  1. missy

    Well for starters this is a great title, but I also found it very interesting to read. I like it when you write non-fiction and we get a little glimpse into the person you are. What you said made a lot of sense to me and I tend to take on emotions too. I don’t struggle with all of the same things as you but parts I could really relate to. You have made me think which is always good

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      Cara Thereon

      Thanks! I’ve taken to writing more non fiction than stories lately. The stories definitely aren’t coming as easy.

      I think many of us within this community struggle with some aspects of this. Emotions are a messy thing

  2. Aku

    That was a good post – I am an older child myself so I do relate to some of what you’ve said here and I think though the causes (like the overbearing mom you mentioned) may be different for people other than, there are things here that will be related to by many people out there.

    Much like sexual kinks, I think there’s so much emotional depth and complexity in people that others out there share but we are very much a culture of largely unhealthy/poor habits of self expression and sharing genuine emotional bonds and exploring ourselves that so much remains constantly either buried or subdued because of expectations or norms or what-have-you.

    Kudos to you for continuing to share all such things about yourself. Reaching out into the void like this is itself a brave act that not many can do.

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      Cara Thereon

      I’ve got a lot on my mind and I’m trying my hardest to share it. Writing has just been a Bear because of my emotional state so I’m working through it all

  3. Jupiter Grant

    Thanks for this really thoughtful and insightful glimpse. I could recognise many of the things you speak about here, (elder child, fawner, hates confrontation etc), and you raise really good questions about knowing your true self when you have always modelled yourself on what you absorbed from/ portrayed for others. Good luck on your journey to finding out more about You. ❤️

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  4. Marie Rebelle

    Thank you for writing and sharing this, Cara, as it does give an insight into who you are. I have known from the start you’re an emphatic person, but not that you absorb others’ emotions so much that you lose yourself. Good that you are getting help in unpacking and discovering yourself.

    Rebel xox

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      Cara Thereon

      I think being aware is helping make choices for myself. It’s just hard to know myself when other people’s emotions are so strong

  5. May More

    First brilliantly written. I could understand everything you were telling me. When I was younger I was similar but as time has gone on I have developed more belief in myself and what I think. As you say at the end – baby steps – and that is alright you still have time and I think you will get there x

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