Artwork by Elodie Garbe, Paris
Jessica Pratas
I feel most myself when I'm barefoot in the dirt
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Pop Culture and the Compassionate Me

By Jessica Pratas

The best shows, each with their own abusive relationships, are a mirror of human behavior


I am a highly sensitive empath – one who has always relied on focusing internally when confronted with stress, sadness or anger. I prefer to be left alone while I process my feelings so as to channel them in ways that minimize their effects on those around me. At times I feel the energies inside me bubbling. Energies that I know should be explored, but sometimes I find meditation difficult. Instead I dive into the stories and characters found in books, movies, music or on television.  However, it wasn’t until very recently that I realize the reason why I was losing myself in shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.


Two days ago I was in my kitchen cleaning the counters and taking inventory of the cabinets. I’m moving in a couple of weeks, after having finally accepted that yes, two years of my life were spent in a horrendously abusive relationship and no, I am not getting the help I need here in Atlanta.


I had my laptop open and Breaking Bad was playing in the background. I’ve been spending a lot of time in my apartment, packing and organizing. Needless to say, there’s been a lot of time for binge watching Netflix.  I had already seen Breaking Bad in its entirety, but it was this episode and at this moment in my kitchen that I suddenly stopped dead in my path when I heard Skyler scream, ‘No, Wait, no! Not the baby!’


Season 5 and Walter White is about to come face to face with the reality of his terrible life choices. In a last ditch attempt to gain collateral reparations in his favor, he picks his infant daughter out of the crib and runs out of the house. The entire time Skyler is screaming. She pounds on the driver-side-window with closed fists, begging Walt to give her her daughter back. I stood in shock, gaping over the screen. It took me a minute to come to.  My palms were sweaty, my heart was racing, I couldn’t see straight. I steadied myself against the kitchen wall and let myself slide down to the floor. Then, I sobbed.


A month ago, Mad Men aired its final episode ever and I was livid at its ending. I didn’t want Don to be happy. I hated that he sat in the sunshine, smiling and at peace while Betty was dying of cancer and his kids lived their lives without a Father. It took all of an hour for me to actually realize what was happening. I saw my ex-boyfriend in Don. There were tactics that Don used to manipulate those around him, the same tactics that my ex often employed on me. I realized that Mad Men would, for the time being, have to sit untouched my DVD shelf.


The Walking Dead is my favorite show on television. Daryl Dixon played by the enigmatic Norman Reedus is my favorite character on the show.  After re-watching a few episodes in which Daryl and his brother are featured together, it became glaringly obvious to me the extent of Merle’s emotional and mental abuse toward Daryl. The episode where Daryl has to put down ‘Walker Merle’ was an episode that left me shaken to my core. It was the episode where Daryl was finally able to face the truth about his relationship with his brother.


These shows, each with their own highly abusive relationship, have acted as triggers for me. My strong reactions have occurred since I admitted, out loud to my friends and family, that my relationship was abusive and that I needed help.


For a long time I was refusing to admit the gravity of what had happened to me. But now that I have, the road to recovery and getting on my feet has become less difficult. It’s easy for us to take refuge in our coping mechanisms. For those of us who identify as a HSP (highly sensitive person) or an empath, it’s incredibly important to be aware of the signs shown to us by the channels we use to process our emotions. It is this awareness that will help expedite our journey to inner-peace and good health.



If you are in a domestic violence situation and do not have family or friends you feel comfortable reaching out to – here are some resources I have used in the past couple of months:
The DV Hotline – 800-799-7233 / www.thehotline.orghttp://padv.org (Atlanta)
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