It may be the day that we celebrate Jesus Christ rising from the dead, but for me, it feels more like the Last Supper. We are supposed to have lunch with my husband’s family. Even though they live an hour away, two of the four sisters I have not spoken nor seen in the past three years. The other two plus his mother and I have a struggling, patchy understanding where we have seen each other maybe a couple times a year in a crowd. In my husband’s words, they are afraid of me, because I have spoken my mind and put my foot down in some rather difficult times that have occurred in the past.
I honestly think that my husband and I are making each other better people, but it has not been an easy road, and that is a topic for another post.
Meanwhile, let’s just say that my extended family certainly does not feel like a support group.
Plus I’m an Empath. I just read an article here that was great in explaining the difference between an Empath and being empathetic. Being empathetic means you can imagine what others are thinking and put yourself in their shoes in a hypothetical way.
Being an Empath means that you frequently find yourself actually standing in those shoes and feeling each crevice, rock and hole.
I used to have a hard time differentiating between my emotions and other peoples’ emotions that I feel. I’m getting better at telling and relinquishing responsibility for the latter, but I still desperately need my ‘alone time’. My house ‘feels’ different even with just one other person in it. With all six of us here, it can often be a bubbling cauldron of emotional stew.
Empaths are usually Attachment Parenting type people because we feel our children’s emotions: especially with their immature nervous systems that drive their impulsivity, we have a really difficult time ignoring or punishing our children for their struggles with their anger, sadness, etc.
But don’t confuse this for weakness. I am reminded of the Chinese proverb:
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.(Tao Te Ching, LXXVI)
That’s me, and a lot of people have confused my emotional states for being ‘breakable’, but I am not … the courage and flexibility to withstand the fiercest storms and then reach for new growth in the Sun. Life is change, movement, emotions flowing and respected.
Anyhow add to the above that my household right now is dealing with some strong stressors. My husband is being, for the most part, optimistic, courageous and hard working in facing them, but sometimes, lately, whew, just with him walking in the room, I am bowled over by the stress I feel in him. It will hit me in the gut immediately, or I’ll feel dizzy and off balance.
The estimate is that 20% of the population is ‘highly sensitive’, an Empath or very empathetic. A lot of us did not grow up with Empaths for parents which means we’ve had to figure out how to deal with all this emotion on our own. Panic attacks, alcohol and seclusion are frequent answers, but there are better ways.
Here are some of the tips I have found:
- Find other Empaths. It was such a turning point for me to find other people who understand what I am talking about. They understand just how challenging it can often be to feel other’s emotions especially when those people are denying or suppressing those emotions. The irony of life is that the harder you fight things, the worse they usually become, so ‘stoic, no nonsense’ people are some of the most difficult people for me to be around, because I sense the possible volcanic eruption. But finding other people who get this, too? Inspiring. I have a women’s circle that meets every couple of weeks to hit the ‘reset’ button and recharge and a few Facebook groups such as this one. Find your tribe. Revel in your ‘weirdness’.
- Learn to use your mind and imagination. Because we ’see things’ that aren’t there, us Empaths are usually very imaginative folk. Use this. Before challenging situations, I like to imagine putting up a white shield around me. I do a meditation that starts at my feet and continues up with a white, healing light surrounding me. It’s not a racist thing, really. Black absorbs, white reflects. If I have a challenge like today, I want to reflect the negative but asking to let through the positive. I then send this healing, loving energy out to my husband’s family, asking to be reminded of their many positive traits and see their potential for love. For after all, evil really is ignorance, no? I mean who if given the choice of a loving, supportive environment that accepts you as you are and knows your worth versus a tension filled, anxious, walking amidst landmines of misunderstandings, eruptions, anger, jealousy and sadness would choose the latter??? I truly believe that the vast majority of people if they knew how to do better, they would.
- Plan your escape route. I could be wearing a mental hazmat suit, and odds are today will still be challenging for me. EFT in the bathroom. 4-8-7 breathing at the table. I plan on recognizing when things are getting overwhelming for me and using the former as arsenal in the Battle of Dysfunctionality. Again, I plan on using my imagination and going to my ‘happy place’ in my mind imagining a lunch surrounded by loving, supportive extended family who value each other’s worth. Funny thing about life, I guarantee you that today you could go to the next table over and find the same potential conflicting issues and personalities, and either they are as well struggling with them, or they have learned how to adjust and work through them and coexist peacefully. As a flexible willow tree, I intend to do the latter in my life no matter how many times I have to pick up the pieces and try again.
There is always rebirth. There is always a new day and Spring.
This is how Love Wins.
This is how Love wins, every single time
Climbing high upon a tree where someone else should die
This is how Love heals, the deepest part of you
Letting Himself bleed into the middle of your wounds
This is what Love says, standing at the door
You don’t have to be who you’ve been before
Silenced by His voice, death can’t speak again
This is how Love wins
And just to keep things in Equilibrium, here’s one more:
Praise to the Spring, Praise to all living things
Praise to the Maiden and the joy that she brings
Praise to the Earth let all her creatures now sing
Hope is renewed with the coming of the Spring
We turn from the darkness and the wise Crone within
We turn to the Maiden and creation begins
It’s a time for things growing and time now for flowing
A time now for sowing the seeds of your dreams.
A wonderful piece, thank you for the insight.