I can relate to so much of this. Especially the responsibility of friends, it's a challenge. I've had to adjust expectations not only of friends but family. People are quite a bit less disappointing when expectations are nil. I've also had to cut out anyone that brings drama, that included several family members as well as friends. This has been a happy experience, not hard or difficult. Likewise I've had to look at myself and make sure I'm not guilty of the very things that drive me nuts about people, some adjustments had to be made.
Sanctuary time is critical too, I'm good to go to town 2-3x/week max and I've gotta keep it under 2 hrs, and outside rush hours. I do live in one of those towns that seems more toxic than most, lots of road rage and public rudeness. I can melt down in traffic pretty easily so I gotta watch it. I have no coping mechanism for that other than avoidance and a bit of extra HP. For each trip to town I need at least a couple days to recoup. After reading all about what an Empath goes through I'm pretty sure it's been with me as long as I've been alive, but the Fibro is relatively recent and it seems that the two have some sort of cumulative effect.
When you say weed works I know that you are right. I started using it to treat Fibro for lack of any of the indicated meds being effective at anything other than profound side effects. I used to smoke back in the 80s as a youth, then I quit for many years, a friend that could see I was suffering dropped off a little care package and while it's not a magic bullet it is by a landslide the most effective thing I have tried for the Fibro, I was already well into my 40s by then. I does seem to work to dampen the people pressure. I think the empathic traits go back to my earliest memory, and maybe thats why the cannabis was so effective before. It's pretty well known that cannabis treats Fibro, but what a boost that it helped with this empathic thing that I never realized I had.
BTW, I really like the cave idea. While there seem to be some band-aids for this the only true treatment I'm aware of so far is avoidance. Not an option for everyone I know but it's doing the trick for me. I felt so good when I went to CO, I had to get a long ways south of Denver/Springs area for the air to clear, but when I got close to Alamosa and along the extreme southern edge of CO it felt like home. Even Cripple Creek, stunningly beautiful, had to many people, but I wanted to see it being a fan of "The Band" I felt I owed it to myself to have a peek while I was close. Folks in southern CO seem somehow compatible with me. I plan to go stay in Ft Garland for awhile in the next few weeks and get a better feel for the community and the NM high desert. Wanna to make sure I get the right acreage.
If I may be so bold there is one thing that jumps off the page to me, you seem to experience Houston the way I experienced Seattle. I moved some 50 miles away to rural Snohomish County but I had to move again in a couple years. The masses caught up with me in no time flat. Are you sure your far enough away from Houston? I still had toxicity from Seattle and I was nearly 2 hrs away. If I even see a major city on TV my blood runs cold and I have to look away. It does rack my nerves, even if just on TV.
When I read your last two paragraphs I had to wonder if your still too close to a metro area, I could feel the words as I was reading them. If I may be so bold, the things you describe seem all to familiar to me. I had to get much further from Seattle before I could stop feeling the effects of it. Of course then I had no idea bout being an Empath, at least now I have some understanding of why even one county over was not nearly far enough. Seattle has an overwhelmingly high-strung, uptight displacement that seemed to spread all over the western part of the state, very toxic indeed. I seemed to instinctively know that I had to go... far. It cut my earning potential in half but was well worth it. I honestly believe had I stayed I would probably be in jail now.
Now that I'm reading and understanding I think it's innate and was fully awake throughout my life. The issues have been long standing, it really does explain so much, so well. I didn't figure there was an off switch but I had to ask. Aside from a finely-tuned commercial grade BS detector this has not been a good time. In retrospect I think this has helped me to be a better nurse when working hospice and long term care. Boy it would be nice to have a toggle switch with this! I think I need to read more about grounding, sounds like it might help.
Thank you both!