Near the end of the day at work today, someone was apprehended in the store for shoplifting. She looked young, about 14 or 15 or maybe younger; a small, plainly dressed girl, who would have been almost studious looking in another context.
Something had been going on all day because all afternoon whilst I was working on the till, our security staff were on the shop floor in much higher numbers than usual, all apparently observing a particular area of the shop. It was one of those situations where your gut tells you “something is not right” – apart from the security presence my attention kept being drawn to a similar area of the store as if clocking something unusual that was slightly off.
I get those feelings. I group them with the way I pick up too strongly on others’ emotions and sense and know things others don’t. It can be a help, empathising, or sensing danger faster, but it’s so draining and an aching weight too.
For some reason as I watched a policeman and two security guards handling this young girl and escorting her, gripped tightly, off the shop floor, suddenly I felt a surge of fear. Not just anxietybut fear. I was completely disturbed. I wanted to run. It took a massive effort to concentrate on helping close down the till and complete my tasks. I can still feel this fear now over an hour later.
Why? Why was I frightened? What of? Was I frightened for her? She was silent but struggling and clearly very strong. I couldn’t read fear in her eyes exactly but something was wrong, not there. After some time the conscious thought occurred to me that she wasn’t alone shoplifting, she was someone’s marionette.
Admittedly I was stressed already, tired and feeling physically ill from the latest OD (don’t worry not life threatening or anything) and I’d had several difficult interactions with customers already.
Yet I can’t understand the level of fear I felt. Perhaps I was reminded of the police having to forcibly “escort” my mother into the transport to hospital, restraining her, with her alternately violently struggling or “playing dead”. Did I remember that? But I didn’t see and hear it although the level of emotion was the same as in a flashback.
Can you have a flashback only of emotion?