Many of you have heard the word “EMPATH” before, and in all of my research and learning what it means, I have recently labeled myself as one. My name is Christina and I am an Empath.
So, what does this mean? The fundamental basics of one who is an Empath, means that the person “feels too much” . This is very much, the definition of ME. I feel way too much, care too much for what people feel, say and/or think, and I hurt when other’s hurt. I also feel happiness of others and almost live vicariously through other people’s emotions. It can be exhausting, overwhelming, fulfilling and depressing, often all at the the same time.
Another component of the title is that you have almost a sixth sense about happenings in your life. You can sense when something is “just not right” and you take time out of your head to seek out the issue. I refer to this a “spidey senses”. I just KNOW when something is amiss, and typically I find it, feel the sting of it, work through it, and go back to feeling everyone else’s pain, trouble, happiness or stresses. It makes life on Social Media very exhausting and I have to limit my exposure to friends who are going through troubled times or who vent their “drama” to the Facebook or Twitter world. It affects me too much, even when I tell myself it won’t.
Now, getting back to the “spidey senses” . This is a double edged sword for a person with too much empathy. One perfect example of this was a few years back. I felt like there was something “different” about my boyfriend. He was treating me differently and was almost too nice to me for a period of time ( I can’t recall if this was over a week or just a matter of a couple days) but I sensed that something was up. I was just finishing up with my university year and was headed away to central Mexico to finish up a Practicum course to complete my degree. While I was planning this extremely intense portion of my education, and getting ready to go, I noticed that my guy wasn’t the least bit interested in what I would be doing while I was away. I was actually off to spend a week working with Foster children and children who have special needs in a very desolate and somewhat dangerous area. He seemed unconcerned. At this point, I had just finished moving into his house, as we had been together for approximately 18 months and decided it was in “both of our best interests” . Anyhow, while I was getting ready to go, he informed me that he was off to see his mother in British Columbia while I was away. I felt “weird” about his last minute decision, and didn’t know why it would bother me. However, it was Easter weekend so I completed my packing, sent him off on Good Friday with a kiss and some Easter treats for the road, and proceeded to tidy up the house, and even hung some pictures of us up on the walls as a surprise for him when he returned home. I would be away for a week and he would be home in 4 days, so I thought it would be nice for him to come home to.
As I finished my packing, including my computer, I decided to send him a quick email to tell him how much I would miss him and to enjoy his time with his mother. I opened up the desktop computer in the home office, and a message popped up. “Looking forward to meeting you this evening for our date” it said. Who was THIS woman?
I sat there…..staring at the screen. My stomach made a rolling thunder sound, and I ran to the bathroom and actually vomited! What the hell was THIS that I was reading?! My entire world spun! My head pounded. I splashed water on my face and paced the house. My first reaction was to text him, angrily. Then I stopped. Then started again. Then dialed his number. Then hung up.
It was all too much to deal with, when I had to drive two hours to the airport and then fly off with a group of 14 women that I had never met! And THIS is where an Empath gets a kick in the gut:
I felt angry, yes. I felt betrayed, of course. But what else did it make me feel? His sadness, his loneliness and his frustration that he doesn’t have someone who makes him feel fulfilled! HOW IS THIS FAIR?!?! Why do I have to feel bad for someone who makes me feel like rubbish!! I actually struggled because I had this “ability” to feel what he was feeling! The punchline in all of this? We can’t just “turn it off”. Us Empaths aren’t capable of “unfeeling” anything. Its like a paper cut on your heart and soul every time someone hurts you, but the real pain comes from the misery of others that you suck into your “feels” vortex and cannot shake off. So when something happens, a tragedy or a betrayal, or even an event such as a birth of a baby, you have YOUR feelings PLUS an added bonus, you feel whatever the other people involved feel as well. Sometimes it can be an extremely profound feeling of gratefulness and fulfillment. Other times, such as times like these, you can’t bear to breathe, and you just want to feel NOTHING.
So, what did I do? I went to see my daughter and hugged her goodbye, as I was on the way to the airport. I drove myself to the West Edmonton Mall and wandered around aimlessly looking for clothes that may be suitable for my trip, and most importantly I turned off my phone. I knew that if I spoke with him, I would crumble. I couldn’t put myself in a situation, especially in a public place, or in front of strangers where I could crumble in a pile on the floor and want to die. So… I ignored his calls, messages and all communication until I arrived in Mexico. I had nothing to say to him, although it felt like, I couldn’t say anything to him, as I knew I would cave like a house of cards, scattered all over the floor with no-one to put me back together again.
My week in Mexico was very moving. I spent many hours in tears from being grateful for my experience, to feeling how the other women on my “team” were feeling and spending time with sweet beautiful Mexican children, who made me feel emotions that I never felt in my life. And I ignored my phone and emails until about mid week. I was trying to avoid the whole “home” situation as much as I could, as I didn’t want him to affect my studies and my precious time with these wonderful people. It was such a comfortable feeling sharing these experiences with like minded students and enjoying children in this capacity. I wanted to stay there, even though it wasn’t necessarily a safe destination, it felt like I belonged there. Besides, the toxic drama at home was repelling me and I didn’t want to ruin my experiences by getting sucked in again.
Mid week, I checked emails. There were over 20 emails from him, starting with questions about why I didn’t say goodbye before I flew off, then concerned emails asking if I arrived alright to my destination, followed by panic stricken emails asking why I wasn’t replying to him. At one point he actually said he asked friends about me to see if they had heard from me. And how did that make me feel??? PANICKED, SAD, CONCERNED, WORRIED, ANXIOUS and finally ANGRY and FRUSTRATED!
WHY?!?!?! Those were not my feelings, they were his. On top of those feelings, i felt guilty for not calling or checking emails. I felt like I betrayed him! Are you kidding me!??!
I sat there, reading his multitude of emotions and words on my screen and felt my heart race until it felt like it would fly out of my chest! Where do I even begin? I started typing a reply, then backspaced and erased it. Started again, and again erased it. I opted to go see how the other ladies were doing and tune him out for a bit. I took a step back. I found them all outside in the sunshine siping on iced teas and playing cards, and I joined them, even with the nagging voices of emotions engulfing my thoughts. None of them had any idea what was going on with me, and weren’t aware that there was anything “different” with me, as they had all just met me for the first time a few days ago. This was a relief.
After a few rounds of Rummy, I went back into my dorm and opened my laptop again. I replied to his emails with one line.
I am fine, in Mexico. I hope you enjoyed your date last Friday night in BC. I will have my things picked up from your house upon my return.
I, then closed my laptop and crawled into bed. Of course no sleep came to me. I lay there in the dark, listening to my roommates snore and breathe heavily and felt EVERY emotion that he was feeling from reading my response. I knew that email was the only way he could reach me, as my phone was not turned on, and I pondered checking for his response of excuses and/or lies, but I wasn’t ready to take it all on. I had a full day planned with children in a Catholic School the following day and wanted to be ready for the rush of emotions that would come from the visit. I did not have the mental capacity, or the emotional strength to read what he had to say. I fought back tears while I lay in my bed, and prayed for sleep.
The next morning I awoke, showered, had breakfast with my fellow students and head to the bus to go on our journey of the day. I fought the urge to read emails in the morning and dreaded checking when I returned my dorm. The “me” who didn’t want to deal with this was feeling hurt and angry while the “me” who felt his emotions struggled with guilt, sadness, frustration and fear. It was like having a war of 7 worlds in my stomach and my heart. I shut it off as best as I could and spent the day at a waterpark with 30 Catholic school girls who were in the head nun’s foster care. They broke my heart with their broken smiles, poverty and love. They embraced us all as though we were fairly godmothers who could take them away for the day to forget about their duties and sadness at the school. We all had such a great day with them, watching them play and laugh, treating them to a picnic and ice cream treats and getting to know them. It was an incredible experience that I wish I could bottle like perfume and wear every day.
But then, reality crept in. I knew I would have to check emails in my dorm and I waited until i was alone to do so. I opened my laptop and saw that he had sent 7 emails. All of them telling me how sorry he was, and how he misses me, and how he never went on the date with this woman, etc. Nope. Couldn’t handle it. I didn’t respond and closed my laptop. I decided to go for a walk and asked my roommate if she wanted to join me. We strolled the neighbourhood and talked about our week, and how amazing it had been. We stopped at a little cafe and tried some local Pollo and had a drink and headed back to our dorm. At about 3 am, I woke up sick as a dog! My roommate was in the washroom and I banged on the door! She was sick as well. THE Pollo!!! (CHICKEN) It made us very very sick and we ended up missing the excursion to some amazing ruins the next day. Neither of us could get out of bed, unless it was to vomit or use the toilet. And all i could think of, was how much I missed my man, and wanted to go home. I opened my laptop and cuddled up in bed….
Our replies went back and forth for hours, him telling me how he misses me and is so sad that he made such a stupid decision, and how he felt that he has ruined us. I would “feel” all of that for him, and try and reply without him knowing that I felt his remorse. Our emails continued until I had to head to the airport to go home. I got home at about 4 am on the following Sunday, crawled into bed with him, and cried for two hours. Exhausted, sad, angry, lost, frustrated, guilt ridden, relieved and still sick. All of these emotions boiling in my body and not letting me go.
I never realized when I was going through all of this what an Empath was. I never even heard the word before, and it made me feel, at times as though I was going crazy, as there were times I could almost hear the emotions battling each other in my head and heart! Now that I understand what it means to be Empath, I get it! I totally understand why I have struggled my entire life to get a handle on my feelings and emotions! There were days when I was young that I would explode with anger or sadness, and feel as though I couldn’t control my outbursts! Now I know why!
So, to the person who introduced me to my newfound “label” and all the research and learnings that I have endured over this self discovery journey, THANK YOU ! I have finally figured out my headspace and heart, and now understand that I am NOT insane. I simply just FEEL too much.