Whoa, there are papers and studies on learning by teaching! I love it. I want to read this and understand it and bring it back to the projects I'm working on.

These are luxuries I take for granted now:

  1. Known quantities of uninterrupted time and a schedule you control, no surprise trumps.
  2. The ability to disengage and disconnect when I need to be an introvert without leaving any wreckage behind me.
  3. Not having to block being an empath.

On empathy: this is simply describing my tendency to pick up - strongly - on the emotions of those around me, particularly the emotions of people close to me. It's not a superpower or anything; it doesn't always work and it's not always accurate (and some people are extremely hard to read), but I've done this since I was a very small child, and it's had an impact on the person I grew up to become. For instance, another oversimplified viewpoint of the contagious happy enthusiasm is that it is also a self-defense mechanism, because those are the emotions I'd like to pick up, so I make them happen. And one of the reasons I need time and space alone (and will not-sleep in order to get it) is that, without that solitude, it becomes difficult for me to tell which emotions are Mel's emotions and which ones are borrowed or picked up from other people, to sort out the conflicts between the feelings I get from different people, and to figure out which ones I want to identify with and keep, and which ones I shouldn't. (Less healthy coping mechanisms: severe sleep deprivation and/or oversleeping, music/movies as a way to turn off my brain, logic/rationality/science/math/engineering/work/sheer-functionality as a way to turn off my emotions.)

I like being an empath; it hurts sometimes, but it's the tradeoff I'd choose. I'd rather be able to understand and help things than not feel them, and if I could be more of an empath, I would turn that dial up. If have #2 - the ability to freely disengage - I'm okay; I can act like an emotional heatsink because I have a way to dissipate whatever I get. If I don't, it builds up until I have to do a series of self-contained explosions, which leave me drained and slow to context-switch back into productivity. Somewhere down the line, I gained the ability to be selfish about it and forcibly disconnect. It's a total jerk move, and means I'm not strong enough to take it - but the thing is, I shouldn't have to be. I should be able to choose what I want to take and what I don't.

Yes, I just had one of those I don't WANT to be an empath now please go away moments, and am trying to work towards a justification of my actions by writing this out. Mrgh. I've got mixed thoughts on that. See, that's the problem with coming to think that your worth is nonzero and positive; you gain the ability to be selfish because you think doing something for you is more valuable than doing... whatever else.

I think I've just got one more thing to get out of my head, and then I'll be able to get back to work.