empath: n. a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.
I never knew the word “empath” but I did know about empathy. I always felt in tune with other people. I was a safe place for people to come and to vent and sort out their feelings. I still do that to this day! It’s one of my greatest gifts, because a lot of people don’t know who to talk to or even feel comfortable opening up. I provide that space. But, I never knew I was an empath until I watched VH1’s “The Last Days of Left Eye”
Me and my boyfriend at the time were in my dorm room when it came on. Having watched it previously and feeling very uneasy afterwards, I told him that I couldn’t watch it all the way through. He thought I was just scared of seeing her actually die in a car crash and it being documented on film, and that I needed to “man up”. So, against my better judgement, I watched the documentary. Every moment and every word of it. Then my heart began to have a sharp pain. My eyes began to water. Listening to Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez was traumatizing me. There was a scene where she was explaining why she cut herself. The word “HATE” was etched into her arm, but you could see the faint writing of “LOVE” underneath. My body began to shake. In between wails of tears, I screamed at my boyfriend to turn the documentary off. It was like I could feel her pain, her angst, her sorrow, and it was too much for me to bear. I felt like I knew something the whole world didn’t know about this iconic star.
That she wasn’t at peace when she died.
My boyfriend, clearly seeing that I was visibly shaken by just listening to her immediately turned off the television and just held me. He didn’t understand, but wanted to fix it. I didn’t understand and reached out to a friend. A spiritual friend who told me that I had to be careful of the “spirits that I allow into my space”, but then proceeds to tell me about how frustrated and angry she was at her mom, which made me instantly angry. I felt lost. I didn’t know how to be a friend to people and detach from what they decided to lay on me. And because all of this was new to me, I didn’t have anyone to really turn to. My solution was to keep people at a distance. I didn’t want anyone coming to me with their problems. I thought that would help. It didn’t.
As the years went by, I didn’t even have to know you in order for me to “feel” what you were going through. They say people bring an energy into a room, and trust me, I felt it. I could be getting a latte and know that the barista is worried about paying her rent. I could sense people’s anxiety and hesitation if we were in a workshop. Others, I could be drawn to their warmth or their lighthearted spirit. Still, I didn’t fully understand what it meant to be an empath, nor did I know how to really be in control of it so that it wouldn’t take me off my day, because my mood was severely altered just by me being around someone else who emoted strong feelings. I will say this: meditation really helped me out.
Once I began meditating and becoming centered, I was able to navigate between what I was feeling, and what other people were feeling. Which is good because the last 72 hours of my life have been really hard. From finding out about an online friend’s suicide, to the senseless murder of a teen in Missouri, to another friend still grieving the loss of his baby brother to now the passing of Robin Williams. I’ll admit, it became to be too much for me to handle. I woke up yesterday morning feeling dizzy and drained. I physically, emotionally, and spiritually felt exhausted and sick; as if I couldn’t go on. But it was in that moment that I got still, I got quiet, and I meditated. Then, I took a walk in nature (which is a perfect remedy for empaths like me) and just sat near a fountain of water; the sun beaming on my face. I felt recharged. I felt for the first time in a long time that being an empath, isn’t so bad.