This is one woman’s take on what it is like to be empathic. I am sure others will have different opinions, this is just mine.
When I tell you I am sensitive (or empathic) I do not mean I cannot handle your snarky comments or sarcastic humor or off color comments or your cussing. I don’t mean that you will offend me or that my feelings will be hurt. I don’t mean that I am fragile or to be easily broken. In contrast my sensitivity has given me the perspective to not take things personally, because much of what I feel is not others directing stuff at me, it is just stuff; charged electrical emotional stuff.
It is like water that is on fire with the heat of emotion that has to flow somewhere and empaths being the sponges that they are, soak it right up. Or at least I do.
When I say I am sensitive I am mean that my ability to feel things is super heightened, like having sensitive hearing, or eyes that are sensitive to bright light, or skin that burns easily in the sun. Only I haven’t found sunscreen or sunglasses for my “feelers”.
Being sensitive is like having a super sense, one that is really really hard to shut off.
I can feel the soul of the world in my bones, and sometimes it hurts, sometimes it aches, sometimes its beautiful, so beautiful it hurts. I feel the grand potential of everyone I meet and I feel the craters of your pain, the emptiness of your perceived loneliness, I feel how ugly you think you are, how sad, how worried, how frazzled. I feel the good too. I feel your coffee buzz, your excitement, your extreme happiness, your hope, your anticipation of jobs and dreams yet to come, I feel you in your power, I feel you feeling beautiful.
And it’s exhausting. And it’s not your fault. And I wouldn’t change it.
It can be downright crushing to have to feel so damn much. I feel all my own shit, the stuff that I cannot shake in a day, whatever worry is trying to take root in my mind or whatever excitement I am currently obsessing over. And I also feel all yours.
Without you having to say a word I will feel in my body as a very real sensation or emotion the emotions that are at the forefront of your being and any stronger ones laying under the surface.
Some empaths will say, “I take all your stuff, I absorb it, I take it on, I take it and feel it”. But I can’t say I take it because that would mean I am volunteering to receive something.
I can’t seem to stop it. It’s like trying not to breathe. Sometimes when I am around others my brain even seems to stop working, I am asked questions that I cannot answer because my circuits are being blown by a torrent of emotion coming from outside of me. It can be downright overwhelming.
But I wouldn’t trade it. I don’t think any empath would.
Its a wonder to be able to feel another’s person’s soul so closely, so vividly. Its a gift to be able to know another’s pains and joys. Its a comfort to be able to feel the emotion lying under the words and act accordingly.
But when we retreat, and we often do, its because one human nervous system can only receive, handle, process, and release so many electrical impulses, so many emotions, whether they are “good” or “bad” in one day.
So if you know or love an empath, let them have their have their space, in fact encourage them to take it, and don’t resent for them taking it, because they will feel that too. One of the best things an empath can do is find the people that can give her what she needs, which can be space, or the ability to bow out of plans, or to be in touch when she is ready to hang again.
For example on Monday you make plans with me for Friday night, but I never know if by Friday night the rest of the week will have been way too much, by Friday I may be at maximum feeling capacity, I may need to bail, and having people that understand this means the world to me. Like the WORLD.
So when I say I am sensitive I am really saying: When I hang out with you I am going to feel all the nuances, ups, downs, highs, and lows of your being and mine at this moment and at some point I will have to go wring out my empathic sponge of a self.
And that’s ok. I wouldn’t change being able to feel so much, but I will retreat into a place that is easy to be, like my bedroom or nature. A place where I do not have to be a radar dish for everything else in the world.
It took me so long to realize this. I wanted to pass it on in case you are an empath or know one.