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November 12, 2009

on empathy, care taking, and taking care.

.... canon xti

believe me, it was not my choice to be an empath.

ive had no say in this matter. none.

and i never saw this as a "gift,"
because it has often been so very painful.

this "feeling deeply" thing takes a serious toll on my mind, my body, my heart.

i think my mom saw it coming when i was a young child and i would run around and place sticks and stones in safe places so they wouldn't "get hurt" by the approaching thunderstorm.
and how i would spend hours trying to think of ways to convince the devil to "make up" with God so that evil would no longer exist and all would be at peace in the world. (a little heavy for a grade school kid)

i was constantly aware of other's feelings,
overly concerned about everyone, and everything,
and i was never able to ignore someone in need...
on the flip side, i would well up with so much emotion when i saw kindness in others, or when i took in the beauty of amazing scenery, or when i heard soulful music.

if hearts could bleed, mine was, and still is, on a constant flow.

now, a therapist could say its because i had an anxiety disorder, or a form of O.C.D, or dismiss me as simply being "highly emotional." and as an adult, a therapist might say its because im co-dependent, a caretaker, that i need to help others to feel important, etc...

but, id like to offer a different view.

i was born with this thing that makes me pick up on every emotion in a room,
this thing that sees beyond an outer expression and goes straight to the inside story. this crazy compassion that makes me feel so much, see so much, and hear so much. this thing that makes being around of a group people equal to having 20 different earphones plugged into my head at the same time.

to have this amount of emotion and sensitivity and NOT be in some kind of service, or attempt to provide some sort of support or love or comfort or expression ~ is to turn my heart into bottle of orange crush, shake it violently and never take off the cap.

its the way i am......
its just the way i am....

im 43 now, and while i no longer run around trying to save sticks and leaves,
and while i have learned much about boundaries and remaining grounded and balancing how much i am giving verses how much i am receiving,

i am and always will be this person with an overgrown heart.

the past several weeks have really been a constant drive of intensity, grief and frustration, as well as weeks of incredible joy and miraculous moments.

and i can tell my nerves and my emotions are cooked. i can tell because im teary, and jittery, and being out in public is exhausting. i can tell because i am unable to shrug off things that i normally would pay no mind to. i am tired, alot, but i cannot sleep.

because this is not a time i can just drop out and take off for a break, i have to make certain i am allowing myself the space and the things i need to rebuild the network of my heart.

i have learned that for me these things include :

*staying off the phone, the computer, away from tv and news,
*being outside ~ away from traffic and people and concrete,
*painting in the one room of our house that always has sun shining in,
*sitting in the car with sue and listening to music,
*curling up with barron and the cats and reading mary oliver, hafiz, and stories from moe..
*cooking mom's comfort food
*saying no to what steals my joy and yes to what fills me.
*having lifelines to my comforting friends.
*and of course, there is always the play. when i play hard, when i go on crazy adventures, when i drown in fun, i get to be free. ...

so this one goes out to all of you who know EXACTLY what i am talking about.
i understand. i really do.
and i want to encourage you to make sure you have that list of things and people you need to help keep you in balance and from short circuiting. this way of feeling/living does not need to be so painful and exhausting, if we can learn to allow the beauty and support of the goodness in our lives to fill us on a regular basis ~
by learning the balance,
by taking care of self,
by asking for what we need,
by knowing when we need to come up for air,
or lay down to rest,

we will be able to remain grounded in the midst of taking in so much.

because even though you (and i) might feel a ton of emotion,

we also get the sacred gift of being able to find gorgeousness in the most tiniest thing,

and we know a story about love that is indescribable,

and this kind of compassion creates a beauty in people that allows
us to go to places some may never even know exists.

and i suppose that is worth everything. . .

Posted by jen on November 12, 2009 10:27 AM