And I feel everything around me, even the energies and emotions that aren’t mine. Until recently, I never understood that this made me different than some people or that this phenomenon had a name.
Back in the 80s when I was growing up, no one used the word empath or highly sensitive person. I didn’t know my ability to read a room wasn’t normal, nor did I know that other people couldn’t read me. As a child, I had only my own perspective and experience to tell me about the world, and I knew what people around me were thinking and feeling. Naturally, I thought they could do the same for me.
This false assumption, on my part, set me up for decades of frustration, disappointment, and disillusionment with the world around me. I felt like an alien—lonely, isolated, and misunderstood. I had a feeling I was different, but I couldn’t figure out why.
But hey, we don’t know what we don’t know, and I had my path to walk and lessons to learn. Now I understand what I am, and I understand how I am different. I also no longer feel alone because plenty of people identify with being an empath, and we can now connect with others like us via social media. And this is true for anything we walk through or feel; somewhere in the world there are going to be others who understand us. As an isolated child of the 80s, we didn’t talk about this type of topic at all. In my house growing up, we didn’t even talk about emotions, let alone being highly sensitive. I would’ve been laughed at in my north Jersey hometown.
To me, it’s a massive blessing that empaths now have a community to openly share about our experiences and connect with others who understand. This shows me that we never need to be alone in anything.
The hardest part of being empathetic is that people who aren’t like me cannot understand why I can’t turn a blind eye sometimes or why I carry the emotional weight of the world. I still struggle sometimes, even when I’ve smudged myself, put on protective crystals, put up my energetic barriers, and done a cleansing meditation. The heaviness of the world is still present, like a raven slightly tapping, rapping at my auric door. Or like a woodpecker chipping away at a tree while others’ emotions swirl around me trying to come into my space. And when I let them into my space, I feel and carry them.
There’s no ignoring the onslaught of others’ emotions for someone like me.
These days, it seems to me as though everyone wants to claim that they are an empath. I say, be careful what you wish for because it’s not all fun and games being able to read the emotions and thoughts of others. Trust me, feeling someone else’s shame creep in before they even realize what they are feeling is gut-wrenching. Feeling the agony behind someone’s smile is defeating. And hearing someone’s inner narrative as it berates them for a simple error is truly heartbreaking.
I grew up hearing these things in my family, and I internalized them as my own because I didn’t know any better. And that almost killed me because it fueled my addiction to drugs and alcohol. This is why I think it’s important for us to continue to have these conversations, so we can better raise the next generation.
“Empaths did not come into this world to be victims, we came to be warriors. Be brave. Stay strong. We need all hands on deck.” ~ Anthon St. Maarten
“Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness; it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. It is not the empath who is broken; it is society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled. There is no shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being a ‘hot mess’ or having ‘too many issues’ are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your tears shine a light in this world.” ~ Anthon St. Maarten
“Sensitive people care when the world doesn’t because we understand waiting to be rescued and no one shows up. We have rescued ourselves, so many times that we have become self-taught in the art of compassion for those forgotten.” ~ Shannon L. Alder
“She had a very inconvenient heart. It always insisted on feeling things ever so deeply.” ~ John Mark Green
“The Empath is often said to have such a great degree of empathy that they can literally feel what others feel, and thus intuitively know many of the yearnings, sensitivities, tastes and, even thought patterns of the people they’re around.” ~ Aletheia Luna
“The world needs them—the ones who absorb the emotions of others, which diminishes their pain and disquietude, and the world also uses them as a repository for confessions, secrets, grudges, and indignation. They will leave these uncommon and intuitive individuals feeling unburdened themselves while the unusual individual will be weighed down by having taken on those burdens in addition to their own. The world needs them, but what they need is something as aberrant as themselves, and that is silence, stillness, and rest.” ~ Donna Lynn Hope
“The empath helps others by absorbing some of their pain, but who helps the empath?” ~ Donna Lynn Hope
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock