Monday, May 28, 2018

Tell Me What's Wrong: The Difficulties of Being a Chronic Empath

This past year has been a kind of chaotic one for me...I have lived in different places, worked different jobs, met people and then parted ways. It's a lot of turbulence for a person that change is hard for. But one thing has been consistent at each place I've been in over the past year: People confided in me. I was able to listen, show compassion, and empathize with different individuals wherever I was.

I love having the chance to connect with people on a deeper level. I cherish being able to lend a caring ear. My goal in life is to be an empathetic, helpful person so these moments - on a selfish level - make me feel fulfilled as a human, like I'm having a small impact on the world. More than that, I would love to see a world where people feel comfortable talking about their pain and getting help for their difficulties, so if I can be a part of helping people work through tough times or be someone they feel comfortable opening up to for the first time about something, I embrace that.

Naturally, after having these moments of openness and emotional intimacy, I often end up growing emotionally attached to the person. It feels like we've bonded on a deeper level so I typically feel more connected to that person, like we've been in the trenches together. When someone has entrusted you with their secrets, you feel like they care about and trust you more than others. As someone who's never been very popular, that can be a very powerful feeling.

The difficult thing I've encountered is that oftentimes people who aren't used to being open about their feelings will, after sharing with me, feel uncomfortable that they did so and then close up again, sometimes even more than before. This leaves me feeling confused, hurt, and betrayed. I especially find that once I'm no longer in the same geographic place as the other person, they'll stop communicating what's going on in their head, heart, and life with me.

I've been trying to remind myself that being open just doesn't come as naturally to some as it does to others and everyone processes emotions differently. Even I -- Queen of Emotional Word Vomit -- can clam up about my struggles except maybe to one or two people very close to me. But, being an intuitive empath, I can often tell when somebody is struggling, so it hurts when I also know they aren't choosing to confide in me about it any more. I, also being the Queen of Taking Things Personally, instinctively feel like that person doesn't trust me any more and doesn't value our relationship as much as I thought.

In these situations, I also just feel anxious because I know something is wrong but I don't know what's up or how bad things are. I worry about whether the person is okay but also don't want to pry, especially if I've already asked or if communication with that person has been spotty. It's a stressful place to be in and I've been finding myself in it a lot lately.

I don't really have a point or inspirational message for this post...in fact, I'm not sure it made a ton of sense -- I just needed to get this stress off my chest. But if you're a fellow "chronic empath", maybe you can relate to what I'm talking about. And maybe we can all remind ourselves to open up and be honest about our feelings when we're struggling. It's difficult, but I believe it's important and maybe even makes the world a better, more tender place.

I guess at the end of the day, while it's good to be there for people, we also have to remember that people are complicated and sometimes they pull away from a relationship for reasons we may never know. I'm trying to learn that it's not necessarily my fault if someone pulls away from me -- our tendency is to assume that we are not enough for a person or we did something wrong. But people are often illogical and make choices based on complex, unspoken emotional reactions that often have more to do with their own issues than other people's. While I can understand why I feel hurt and lonely in the wake of people no longer turning to me as a confidant -- or even just someone they contact at all -- I don't have to take it as a personal affront or let it negate the meaningful interactions I did have with a person. It's all just complicated.

Life is full of seasons and changes, and maybe relationships are included in that cycling. People may not always be as close as you want them to be, whether geographically or emotionally or both. But maybe the universe or God or whatever placed me in these people's paths at just the time they needed support from a caring person and we've parted ways now that they no longer need me. It's tough to think about because it makes me feel a bit more like a disposable cup than an instrument of kindness, but the more I live, the more it seems like it might be true. It's just tough when you don't want to let go of people because you love them, but they seem to be letting go of you.

Maybe some new people are just around the bend for me to help. Or maybe there's even someone who will care for me.

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