The year is 1995. I sit outside my mom’s office in the Emergency Room at Bridgeport hospital watching as patients come in. Off to my right is an older man on a stretcher. I stare, wondering why he is there. Is he sick? Injured? I watch as he struggles to try to get the blanket over his bare feet.
Seconds turn into a minute, and I’m suddenly overcome with a twisted, sick feeling in my stomach. This man’s feet are cold. Why is nobody helping him? Nurses stroll by, busy and unaware. Over and over in my head I say, “Please, please, please. Someone help him.” Suddenly, I feel a tear stream down my face. Tears turn into sobs, and I am overwhelmed with emotion. The man only had cold feet, yet it rocked my world.
I can recall dozens of instances like this growing up, where someone else’s hurt, pain, and suffering became my own. I could move myself to tears at just the thought of something sad. On the flip side, I also experienced utter joy and happiness while friends won their baseball games, got the new toy they wanted or got a good grade on their test.
As a child, I didn’t know what I was experiencing wasn’t the norm. It wasn’t until my late twenties when a distant friend made a comment that changed my world. “You’re an empath.” What’s that?” I wondered.
Ironically, since then, I have been told I am an empath by three other people. I am not sure if the term “empath” is somewhat trendy or new, but it suddenly seems to be a word to describe me quite often.
Empaths feel other people’s feelings. They lead with their heart, experience a vast array of emotions, and carry the weight of others on themselves. Empaths are highly intuitive, excellent “people readers,” and can sometimes have premonitions.
As long as I can remember, I have been able to walk into a crowded room and feel like I immediately know people without ever having met them. On first introductions, I can often read what kind of person someone is, later finding out always to trust my intuition.
While deeply understanding my own and others’ emotions is a gift, it can also be a curse.
I am easily hurt. And truth be told, I will be offended if you call me “too sensitive.” I’ve been told I am “too sensitive” my entire life, always leaving me to believe I had this horrible character trait that I should be ashamed of.
I am not too sensitive. I am hyper-aware, keen, and inept to others’ true intentions. As much as I suppress my urge to do so, I over-analyze your tone, body language, and words. I will think and rethink how you said or did something, wondering why.
As a nurturing motherly type, I believe you should treat others how you want to be treated. I always work hard to stay positive, smile and put my best foot forward. I get easily confused when others don’t do the same.
On social media, you will often find me preaching about being kind, staying positive, and sharing the “good” stuff. We rise by lifting others, and I know this because I have lifted and been lifted.
Empaths are soul searchers, highly in tune with their thoughts and feelings. If you know of someone who fits this description, do them a favor. Listen, try to understand, and don’t play games. Understand that their happiness for you is genuine. Their sadness in your grief is real.
Love them wholly, without reservation. I promise they will do the same for you.