Empathy

I’ve been a drama queen since I learned how to express emotion, which my parents taught me by the time I was one and a half. They would show me different facial expressions and the feelings that go along with them, and they’d make me mimic them to practice. “Okay now Laura, show us your surprised face!” they’d excitedly commend me to do as I opened my mouth wide and acted out the full emotion. I had a blast showing off my big eyes and wide smile and the faces I could make, because I knew it made people laugh.

As I got older, I experimented more with these emotions. I could throw temper tantrums and hissy fits, but I could also laugh until I peed my pants and smile ear to ear. My moods changed literally by the second.

You could say I was a “bratty” child but I like to call it independent… yeah.

I am an expressive individual still to this day. When I am happy, you can tell. When I am unhappy, you can tell. I communicate through my emotions and that can be a blessing and a curse.

As of recently and after some time of doing my research, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m an empath.

em·path (noun):
a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual – or surroundings.

I really knew it when I started talking about it initially with a friend whom considered herself as an empath. And then I realized it more when my stepmom talked to me about her experiences as an empath. It made me feel less crazy to know I’m not alone.

I can feel the world, humans, thoughts and energy on an elevated level of emotion. For example, if an animal around me is feeling pain, I can read that it is in pain without knowing anything about it. If a family member, friend or as of lately, the world, is grieving, I can feel its grief and misery. If there is tension in my environment, I can always tell when something is off. I don’t need any clues, it is just my instinct. If I walk into a room, or a house where trauma happened or deep emotions were felt, I can feel them.

It’s like when you wake up in a bad mood for no particular reason, and no one or nothing can cheer you up. It’s when you feel slightly unsettled, though everything appears to be at peace. It’s when you get a tingle in your stomach when you walk by an interesting house or pass by someone intriguing. It’s when you feel the urge to cry pushing near your brain behind your eyelids, and not knowing why. It’s those times when you say “my gut feeling…” or “I’m getting a vibe…”. That’s what it’s like to be an empath, all the time, and so, so intensely.

It is very typical of empaths and these type of people to become very inward with their own feelings; we call it “bottling them up”. We basically make displaying them less of a priority compared to the basic things we feel from the world every day. I have the worst of days when I’m experiencing a “negative vibe” but nothing actually seems wrong with me. I didn’t choose it, I didn’t want to feel that way, but my universe had other plans. That’s what it’s like to be an empath. I probably have 3 days out of the week where I’m just… off.

When something tragic happens – however unrelated to you and your circumstances – it lingers with an empath like mourning and pain for as long as it takes to heal. That feeling belittles any personal experience, thus making us less likely to show them. We put our own on the back burner, and they don’t get as much attention.

It can be unhealthy to bottle them up like this. That’s why you’ll see a lot of empaths become artists – they need a way to extract these feelings, they do it through art.

It’s important for an empath to have an outlet to express their creativity and their feelings.

You’d never expect someone like me to bottle up their deepest emotions, but expressing the realest, hardest feelings doesn’t come easy to me. I’m good with the day-to-day stuff, like someone paying for my coffee or smiling as they walk by or just having general nice interactions with people and with life. I know to smile when it’s time to smile. It’s the deeper things that are so hard. I feel them so much that I become overwhelmed with how to even deal with them.

To name a few examples:

I lost my memere to cancer a few years ago. It hit my mom the hardest out of anyone in the family. I cried for maybe two days of my grief. I didn’t cry at her funeral services. I don’t cry on the anniversary of her death, I don’t cry when I see pictures or videos of her and I together. I don’t cry when I see my mom in pain of missing her. It’s almost as if it’s so close, that I can’t feel it. It’s like a closet door jam-packed with clothes and stuff piling over and spewing out, and if you crack open the door the slightest bit, everything comes falling out. So, it’s best to keep the door closed shut, tight, maybe even locked.

Another example is my childhood home. My entire life and especially when I got older, I knew I’d be devastated to leave the house that I was raised in. The house that grew old as I grew up. When I moved out at 18, I was surprised at how little I felt in regards to leaving. I didn’t accidentally drive there out of habit, I didn’t miss the smell of my yard around 3 pm when the sun’s rays trickled in between the trees. I seemingly didn’t even care. Last week my boyfriend and I were driving through the town and my old neighborhood. He was about to make the right turn onto my street, where we would pass the two-story home that used to hold my head. I asked him why he was turning, why he would want to drive by it, and he thought I’d “like to see it”. I was shocked at myself, why didn’t I want to drive by?

That’s when this all started to make sense. The things that get me the fucking deepest, in the softest and most closed part of my heart – those are the things I can’t even manage to feel.

Not even close.

One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever gotten was “you just love so hard…” and it was from someone who really only knows me on the outside. Not on a close or intimate level.

But loving hard means that you hurt hard.

And this is something I’ve learned to love hard. I love that I can feel pain the way I do. It makes me feel fucking alive. It gives me a reason, it gives me hope and it gives me peace and it makes me so special. It makes me strong, because I’m not afraid to be weak. I will never apologize for hurting, for being sensitive, for being overwhelmed with my feelings.

So, I started this post over a month ago. This week was election week. It’s safe to say that as someone who feels grief on ultimate levels and massive amounts of it, I haven’t been able to go about my normal life so easily since the election. I am hurting with any American that hurts right now. I did not want this post to involve any political talk, but when it applies to mass humanity – I can relate what we’re feeling to being an empath. I’ve seen multiple people post and express about feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, depressed with the hate and division that is happening – because they are feeling the whole world, as well as I.

I realized I’m not alone. That I needed to get this post out, and the time was never better.

If you’re reading this in tears, or if you’re reading this with chills down your spine or if you’re reading this because you knew it was you that I posted it for – know you are not alone. Your feelings matter. Your sensory overload and wave of feeling matters. Your passion matters and your emotions matter. Never let them die.

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3 thoughts on “Empathy

  1. I! Love! This! I get it on soooo many levels…so many levels (spoken like a true empath, right? 🙂 ). It does make you feel crazy, until it all makes sense…but, the years of suffering come before the understanding–if we’re lucky that is…I feel for those who never come to know that they have a special gift. Anyway, I saw that you “followed” me, and I am following you back. And, not that I have a hidden agenda, or any expectation, but my post (Nov 6/16) “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woodsman” speaks to feeling so big, so much of the time…
    You might appreciate it…
    Either way, I will be back…thanks for sharing..you are amazing 🙂

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  2. Thank you so much for that wonderful feedback!! I’m glad it resonates with yo has much as i hoped it would for all empaths. I’ll have to give your post a read later tonight! ❤️ Thanks again 🙂

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