I’d rather shrink into the crowd, then fight for your attention, much less fight for your approval. But why do I shrink or hide when I can’t take a compliment? It’s because I’m an empath.
I’ve always known I was an empath because being around people too long would exhaust me and not a single person I have ever met has not accused me of being “too sensitive,” “looking too far into things,” or my personal favorite “I think you’re over-reacting” or “I think you’re reading too much into it.” Being an empath is like being the smartest and dumbest person in the room. You can pick up all these subtle social cues, these feelings from other people around you, you can read people’s thoughts sometimes as if they are comic strip bubbles floating above their heads, and yet—if you react to their feelings or confront people too soon with their own feelings they treat you like you are crazy or insane. So you doubt yourself again and again and shrivel up inside like a prune.
As it turns out though, you are almost always 90% correct about the people you are reading. You just don’t have all the personal and intimate details that explain what you are feeling, reading, or picking up. It’s not hard to fill in the gaps though once you pick up a few clues, and if you’re an empath like me, you’ve learned to fake ignorance, fake happiness, hold everything in and fake it long enough until you can quietly and hopefully go unnoticed as you exit the room.
I still can get some things wrong of course, no one is perfect. Being an empath is like having a hyper sense of smell. You just pick up these feelings and emotions from people, their energies, their thoughts, but, just like you can’t always figure out or know a scent in the air that you recognize, you somehow just can’t properly categorize what that smell or emotion is sometimes. The emotions and thoughts you’re picking up are real, you just don’t always know what they mean. It’s very frustrating. You can pick up these subtle emotional changes from people or changes in behavior and you just know things about people. Like you know when you’re being talked about or when someone has secret feelings or is attracted to someone—and you can even guess what is probably being said about you or about a situation completely unrelated to you based on their behavior towards you. You just don’t know its full meaning, how deep the rabbit hole goes.
People accuse you all the time of caring about what other people think or having low self-esteem, but you don’t. Your feelings are so intertwined sometimes with the feelings of everyone around you, its not that you actually care what others think about you or care about those people— these feelings and their thoughts are actually causing a physical reaction within you! Your stomach cramps up or you suddenly get depressed and don’t know why, or you suddenly feel angry. It took me years to build the self-awareness and confidence to know and separate the feelings of others from my own feelings. Sometimes I still need to ask those around me questions like “is everything alright?” or “what’s up?” just to confirm or gage what the hell is going on around me and help me distinguish what feelings are my own and what is just part of the environment I’m in. I test people often too. To see if I can trust them or if they are worthy to get to know me or if I should tell them what I’m feeling. Not everyone can be trusted with something as delicate and fragile as one’s personal and private feelings.
However, I still make mistakes too. I still get lied to, betrayed, or put my faith and trust in the wrong people. Sometimes I’m also the bad guy. Since I’m really good at reading some people, I can learn how to fake love or friendship or hide myself from them for long periods of time. I have damaged and hurt many friendships and relationships with people this way. Yes, it is true empaths just want to love people rather than be loved and they are so prone to trying to save people that people always assume they are nice people—the good people—but they’re not. Not every empath is a nice person. Sometimes I just want to save someone or help them because their negativity is affecting me so badly that to alleviate their pain, I am technically alleviating my own—which is really just selfish, and to be honest, a little controlling. People with a savior complex can be controlling and no one ever wants to admit this because people tend to want to feel sorry for the empath or the girl or guy that wants to save everyone, but most heroes are not saints.
Empaths are very aware usually of the dark deeds and wants of the people around them as well as some of the darkness that dwells within themselves—which makes them super forgiving, but also prone to attacks by a nearby narcissist that will pretend to be in love them, be friends with them, or whatever, who really just wants to use them. The narcissist pretends to be as interested in the empath as the empath is interested in everyone else. The empathic person thinks they’ve found a soul mate when in fact it’s a wolf disguised as a sheep. What’s worse though is the empath’s tendency to forgive the narcissist over and over again, knowing and fully understanding that the narcissist’s darkness and selfishness is part of who they are, and they will not change. But the empath is convinced that loving them is part of fate or some stupid sh*t (and yes I’m speaking from experience here).
People always accuse me of picking the wrong person to date or be close to, but in truth, I don’t think I was really fooled by who that person was. Despite their flaws, narcissism, and selfishness, I chose to love or like them anyway, knowing there was a high probability they would hurt me. I just did it anyway because I wanted to, because it felt like the right thing to do at the time. Empaths know that you are using them and f—ed up. We still judge you and hate you for doing us wrong, but sometimes we still love you or like you anyway. We only cut you off after we’ve learned healthy boundaries, when you’ve pushed us too far, you remind us of a past lesson, or when we’ve simply have had enough, but that doesn’t keep us from thinking of you from time to time. Deep down empaths want to be heroes, we want to be martyrs, we enjoy the pain a little because we know how to use that pain and gleam from it knowledge and a beauty—an experience– that most other people can never fully grasp or understand.
We love you because you’re ugly, because you’re hurting, because you’re human. We run away because we have to. We cut you off because it is necessary for us to love ourselves and appreciate us for once. Because we feel your misery and poison as if it were our own—even when its self-inflicted.
People accuse us of over-reacting or being paranoid, but we know they’re wrong and just ignorant and scared of us and what they can’t fully comprehend or understand. They tell us we’re crazy until we feel we are crazy, and we have to break the cycle again and again of believing them when deep down we know we were right all along. People just lie to themselves and therefore, you, all the time and it’s hard to just keep up.
We empaths are the brunt of everyone’s jokes, and we know it. We still walk into the same room with all of those people laughing at us behind our backs (or in our face), holding our heads up high, and we fake those smiles, those feelings of not being as aware of what’s going on as we really are to protect ourselves. We’ve learned how to change our voice, so it doesn’t sound different or choked up with emotion, and how to make our smile look real when we really want to cry, kick, or scream.
We can feel it when our partner(s) are slipping away from us or cheating on us, or thinking of us even though we are miles apart and the evidence hasn’t yet presented itself—but it always does. We can feel it when people around us are making fun of us, talking about us, or just interested in us because we can feel that they want something from us—some sort of reaction–and we are just trying to gage what reaction that is being asked of us. Once we know what reaction people want, we can determine which one we will choose to give. We also feel it when people are using us, and they really just don’t care. The choice of how we interact with the people around us really isn’t about them, it’s about us.
It’s about how we choose to interact with you and we are fully aware that it is a choice. I can choose to pretend and interact with you like we are really friends when I know deep down we are not. I can choose to pretend we are really close when I know deep down we are not. I can choose to love you or adore you or shower you with affection, when I know deep down, it is not equally reciprocated. All of this is a choice. I can easily also choose not to talk to you or share my life with you or ignore you. I can be as superficial with you, as you are with me, and keep the most genuine parts of myself to myself if I so choose.
Sometimes people see empaths as victims, and I think other fellow empaths do this too. But we are not. For that is the other truth no one wants to admit. We all are empaths to some degree. It really is a spectrum. Some people are on the far side of the spectrum and more sensitive to their empathic gifts while others are on the other side of the spectrum and are less sensitive or less self-aware. But most everyone who has the ability to empathize with another human being is in fact an empath to some degree, the difference is really to the extent of the empathy. Do you feel sick when others are sick? Tormented and depressed when others are depressed around you? Worried when others are worried? Or do you just pick up the other subtleties like when you know a group of people are talking about you? We all have these abilities, it’s just a matter of how much you feel them.
To end this post, I’d like to force you, the reader, to pause and reflect for a minute as to just what empathic tendencies or gifts you do have and to what extent it has hurt you or helped you in your life.
My empathic tendencies tend to lend a hand in dealing with drama or conflict (sometimes), but mostly they help me heal people around me as well as myself, for when I am making other’s happy, I am the happiest. Sometimes it’s a burden, but deep down it is just me being myself in a crappy world that doesn’t seem to understand why people can’t just be nice for the sake of being nice. But as I’ve stated before, empaths don’t necessarily want to help people to actually help the people around them, sometimes, they just want to help people to help themselves.