Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Empath Lost ~ Empath Found

When I was much younger, I would compare my own suffering to that of others. And I was always left with one of two reactions. The first would be that no one could understand what I was going through, not really anyway because they hadn't been through the same things I had. The second was that my pain, while considerable, was nothing compared to what others had suffered.

With the first reaction, I closed myself off from everyone who might be reaching out to help me. In doing this, the assumption arose that the only thing people were offering me was pity, and I hated being pitied more than anything else, because I certainly wasn't a charity case.

And when I had the second reaction, I closed myself off to the help I could offer to others because of our shared pain, despite its differences. I could not see any value in what I had to offer, particularly if they were suffering in that moment. And I ended up feeling guilty and ashamed because I couldn't even reach out a hand to sooth their pain a little bit.

My biggest mistake wasn't having one reaction or another, believe it or not, because those were reactionary to the mistake. The mistake itself was comparing myself to others. By comparing myself to others, I found myself lacking in some way or I found others lacking in some way. And I ended up closing the door on those that were in need or that could help me when I was in need. And by my own choices and actions, I ended up reinforcing my own beliefs that I was alone and/or worthless.

It wasn't until much later in my life that I started realizing that, while on the surface one person's suffering differed greatly from another, beneath the surface suffering is suffering and pain is pain, despite the actual experiences. It brings forth the same feelings, despite its differences; shame, guilt, loneliness, depression, isolation, desolation, and a plethora of other emotions.

And if you can come to the table with that in hand, you can understand and share anyone's pain. And you can help offer them comfort and understanding, with the ultimate message being 'you are not alone'.

As well, it opened the door to allow others to help me begin to heal. Because that is not something one can normally do alone. Support, friendship and love are the things that strengthen us and empower us enough to move forward in our lives. And these are not things that should be shunned because one assumes they are being pitied.

To pity a person takes compassion. Compassion entails being able to place oneself in the other person's shoes. And there is no shame in this act, not if one is truly open to help.

I noticed that one of the things that held me back from accepting this kind of support was my pride. It would do a somersault when it heard the word charity or pity. It would cause me to feel disgusted at the mere thought that I needed this kind of support, because I was 'better' than that.

I know better than this now, though. Even if I can stand on my own, I still need support, friendship, kindness, and love. I know this because no one, no matter how much they imagine it, is completely self contained.

I was once an Empath Lost. And now, I am an Empath striving to be found. Its definitely a rocky journey. And sometimes, even I falter in my steps, fall on my rear end, and want to give up. Its ongoing and never ceasing. And its a struggle day in and day out.

But even as you walk your path alone, never think you are alone on the journey you have embarked upon. You are never alone. We are all right there with you, struggling to be heard, understood, and cherished, just like you. All you have to do is stop staring at your feet and look around you to see it.

So I will say it one more time, you are not alone ~ any of you. Think about it.

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