What Does It Mean To Be An Empath?
Curse. Weapon. Superpower.
It means I pick up your shit and won’t let it go.
Carry it throughout my day
Integrate it into my being
Until I can no longer distinguish the line between you and I.
It means that I’m still thinking about that ragey driver who cut me off and flipped me both birds through her tinted SUV windows this morning.
Not because I’m pissed that she cut me off,
But because I’m worried about her.
I’m wondering what in her life she’s reacting to,
Because it obviously wasn’t me.
I’m taking on her fear,
I’m turning the intensity of her anger in on myself.
I don’t rage, I shut down.
I drop things.
I get careless and snarky and you can tell that something is wrong, but you don’t know what.
Let me carry that burden for you because obviously you don’t know how to contain it for yourself.
Let me play the martyr and share in your rage, your grief, your anxiety, your shame — all those self-judgements and fears and stories wildly spinning around in your mind.
Allow me to lift the burden that you didn’t even know you were shouldering.
We’ll both feel worse, initially,
Be there’s always a slim chance that you’ll feel that transference,
That you will experience the relief,
Knowing that, at the very least, you are no longer alone.
No matter that I’m taking away your ability to process this for yourself and come to terms with it.
No matter that I’m enabling your behavior,
Instead of holding you accountable for your impact on others.
No matter that you can only do this for so long, that you will reach a breaking point — that I will eventually realize how futile my efforts have been.
By feeling your pain with you, I’m not saving you from feeling it.
I’m simply causing us both more pain.
I am working on strengthening these barriers, these invisible boundaries between my emotions and your own.
But they do fail me.
They get weaker and more permeable if am tired or sick or not doing a very good job taking care of myself.
They do create attachments in me that I can’t possibly fulfill,
And expectations that you could never meet.
Sometimes, it means that I love you by seeing and experiencing everything that is within you.
Sometimes, it means I can’t stand to be around you.
More often than not, it’s too much.
It means you must be extra gentle with me,
Extra attuned to my shifting moods,
Lest they too closely mirror your own.
It means that the first culprit to any feelings of overwhelm, resentment, or anxiety can usually be traced back to someone else’s mood.
It means that you trust me when I say, “I can’t handle that right now.”
It means you encourage me to be a loving parent to that hypersensitive child living inside of me.
Listening to what she needs, and tempering her childishness with stern kindness.
It means I always have to put myself first, before assisting others.
And that when I choose to assist you, love you, care for you,
It will be the most intense, most connected, most trying and fulfilling and maddening and joy-filled experience of your entire lifetime.
Because I can’t help but love all of you, even the parts you can’t yet see for yourself.
I see your whole being as this web of interconnected people, events, experiences, and emotions, that are influencing every move you make,
Every word you say, every action you take.
And I know that can be scary.
To feel seen. Truly. As you are. In this body. In this world.
Honestly, it would be my privilege, which I solemnly swear not to abuse,
Or use, against you.
The question is, will you let me?