It wasn’t until I stepped into the adult world that I discovered something about myself that I hadn’t known. Well, on second thought I did know, I just didn’t realize what it was called. As a child I was often overly emotional. I found myself often angry or sad with not knowing why. Often I lashed out at the people around me and when I hit puberty it became worse. It was while a teenager that I closed myself off out of fear of the emotions that tore through me as if they were an invisible storm.
As an adult I discovered that the “curse” as I’d often referred to it was actually a “gift”. My problem was that I had no one in my life that could explain it. Although my mother was gifted she looked upon her own gifts as a curse. Trying to talk to her was nearly impossible because she’d convinced herself that she was being punished for some imagined wrong. Sadly, her inability to accept her gifts along with being the primary caregiver for my father finally broke my mother. By the time I was a teenager she was already taking prescription drugs just to make it through the day. I saw what she could do and how it ended for her and I swore I would never allow that to happen to me.
Out on my own in the workforce as an adult the walls that I’d built as a teenager began to fall apart. I found myself consumed again by emotions that didn’t seem my own sometimes. I would discover soon what it was known as–empathy. I became a mother figure, even a confessor to the people around me. People I barely knew would talk to me about the deepest personal things. That’s when the migraines began. Sporadic at first, but as I became older they increased in frequency. It took me forever to connect the headaches with the overwhelming emotions that I often found myself swimming in. It was my best friend who gave me the answer I was seeking without ever knowing.
My best friend also happens to be my cousin on my mother’s side. Despite being blood relatives we didn’t really know one another having been raised hundreds of miles apart. It wasn’t until the summer before my senior year of high school we truly connected. Her mother seemed to know that we needed each other. It was that summer that we connected and we’ve been best friends since, nearly 25 years of friendship. The connection we had was what answered my question. We often knew when each other were sick or in emotional/physical pain even if we were no where close to one another. Hell, we even finished one another’s sentences and seemingly read each other’s thoughts. Used to creep the hell out of her ex-husband. 🙂
It was through that connection I realized that what I was often feeling was the emotions of those around me. I knew I could never rid myself of this “gift” but to continue in my life without traveling the road my mother had I had to learn how to control it. That was around the time I was 25 and I’m now 41 soon to be 42. I researched voraciously reading anything I could lay my hands on. Slowly but surely I learned I could control it. It hasn’t always been an easy path, but the older I get the easier it is.
My “gift” has helped me more than I could ever imagined. Of course I’ve creeped a few folks out over the years, but sometimes–as mean as it might sound–I kind of get a kick out of it. I no longer fear the world around me as I did when I was a child. There are still moments in my life when I run into people that are the opposite of me. I have a friend that was very much one of these people. For years she literally drained my energy with the overwhelming need to cling to me. The friendship has now shifted and sadly I am grateful. It’s horrible when as an empath you find yourself being used as a dumping ground for the things someone you love doesn’t want to deal with. Sadly, she’s not the first nor will she be the last. At the moment I have another friend who is trying to take her place as my own personal “psychic vampire”. Of course I learned my lesson the first time around. I keep this one at arm’s length.
There are still times when I need to shut down those walls, but now it is to rejuvenate myself. I’ve learned that I need space and time to cleanse myself whether it’s a long hot soak in a tub or a walk in the first snow of the new year. Getting away from the people around me is healing. The worse times are when I’m sick or just exhausted. It is then that the walls I keep up sometimes fall. Even family get togethers can be taxing, but the pros well outweigh the cons.
I’ve learned to channel my gift through my writing over the years. That is yet another gift from the Goddess. I reach out to friends and strangers alike with my words and those words heal. I know that might sound odd to some, but it is the truth. Before I became a published writer I wrote fan fiction and it was there I honed my skill. Over the years I’ve received e-mails where someone tells me that it was like I could see into their heads and I helped them understand problems they had in their lives.
I now understand why I’m here, but I try to remember what a boss told me once.
You are the most loving and caring person I have ever met. You hold up everyone around you, but never think of yourself. Just remember what happens when the foundation of a house crumbles–the entire house comes down. Take care of yourself sometimes so the house can stand for many years.
He was right. Without a foundation the house will fall. Sometimes it’s fun to pour a little concrete.