Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Am An Empath; I Am A Wounded Healer

In this post, I want to tell you a bit more about myself and my history. I want you to understand why I write these blogs, for the benefit of you and I. I want you to see what has brought this place into existence (Empathic Perspectives), and why it continues to grows. So this blog is going to be a different type of discussion that is as much my own personal life as it is about giving you food to thought on various topics.

So lets get started, shall we? But be warned, please, that everything offered up here isn't to offend anyone, to cause anyone to be overwhelmed emotionally, or to bring about pity for me.

My Story

My story begins with issues I had in the past. You see, from my formative years I was sexually abused by someone I was close to (but not within my own family). The emotional turmoil it wrought on my psyche twisted it in many ways, even to the point I questioned my own sexuality.The confusion from this eventually sent me into a deep spiraling depression, which eventually put me into a mental institution at the age of 14.

But before that the time of being put into a mental hospital, I began to cut myself horribly and even became bulimic. Both offered me a sense of control which up till that point I felt as though I had none of. It was as though I had no control over my life, and nor did I find that I had any outlet for release for my sorrow, anger and depression.

When I got out of the hospital at the ripe of age of 15, I began to become sexually active to the point that one could have deemed me a 'slut' or 'promiscuous'. Either works, if we are perfectly honest. And for the sake of this blog, there is no denying the obvious truths of who I was at that time.

As I grew older, I began to date (beyond just being sexually active). My choices of relationship interests were those men who did drugs, who were consummate abusers/emotional manipulators and those who were abused themselves. And these choices were directly connected to the lack of self worth I felt about myself. It was like I was vicariously mutilating myself by staying with men who reinforced my already low opinion of my self. And just so you understand, alot of the time I walked willingly into these situations.

I dated a drug abuser (will omit names for their privacy since I'm sharing my story and not theirs) for about 7 years starting in high school. Being with him, cause me so much emotional turbulence that I ultimately realized that I would be dead within a few years of staying with him, because my emotions were so erratic that he even accused me of being Bipolar.

From there, when the drug abuser and I would break up sporadically, I would choose other people who were adept at manipulating people. And this was for dyadic reasons. One was that I had absolutely no self esteem and these people reinforced this belief of myself and my value regularly. And the other reason was because I was also learning from these people: how to manipulate, how to use people, and how not to care when I did it.

With the father of my first daughter, I was with someone who willing disappeared for days or weeks at a time. He even went so far as to shut off the water in our apartment, while I was pregnant. He would also starve me for long durations of time, as well.

With him it got so bad, because he shut off the water in the house, I would end up licking the accumulated ice on the air conditioner in order to have something to drink. This continued on to the point that when I experience morning sickness I would throw up in our backyard because there was such an accumulation of feces and urine inside the toilets, that it would make the most stalwart person cringe. And when he did return with food for me, it was so greasy that I couldn't stomach it or hold it down.

On the day I left him, I was so starved, that I put on dirty cloths and dragged (quite literally) myself to a payphone in order to call my family for help. And this was because at a moment, right before I left, I realized that my unborn child and I were going to die.

I could not let that happen, but it wasn't for me that I thought these things. It was for the unborn child which was growing inside me. She, at that moment, was my saving grace and only reason for surviving.

After we moved from New Orleans to a place in Tennessee (and the birth of my first child), what I also discovered was that I was again completely isolated from the world around me. I didn't have any of my old friends and/or lovers to anchor me and distract me from my own turbulent onslaught of emotions. After this time, I fell into such a deep depression that I was extremely suicidal, to the point I would hide razor blades for the time I could muster up enough courage to actually end my life.

But you see, at the same time as plotting my own demise, I was also praying...nay....begging God (yes even for a Neo-Pagan Shaman) to give me a miracle. Because, in truth, I did not want to die, but I could see no way out of my melancholy. And I realized I couldn't do it alone, because I felt so lost, that I couldn't imagine I could be saved, much less think that I was worth saving.

And then one day, when everyone else had given up on me, because of how depressed I was and how erratic my behavior was, a very kind woman took me in her arms, listened to me, for 6 hours straight, recount my life of sadness, resentment, anger and pain. And she told me, probably the one thing I needed to hear most in that moment....that god loved me and all I had to do was open my heart and let that into my life.

And that night, after finishing our discussion, I did as she suggested. Because you see, even though I had not ended my life physically, emotionally I had already died and had stopped fighting. And that night, as I lay in bed, I finally surrendered, which opened the way to something miraculous (I have no other way to describe what to me was a miracle of no small order).

I felt something come into my room that night. I felt it touch me. And I felt both warm and cold at the same time. Because even though I could feel this powerful presence, full of undying and unending love in the room, it also sent shivers down my spine, but not out of fear. That night....I finally died and was reborn.

Things didn't change overnight, though. We moved back to New Orleans and slowly things began to get better bit by bit. I started school, from which I went on to get my associates degree from. And I made friends.

But as these things tend to do, I met another man who was much like the father of my oldest child. This time though, I was married to this man. And I walked headlong into it, willingly, knowing exactly what the outcome would be.

With this man, everything seemed to go well for a time. But, as these things tend to go, this changed, as well. He began by lying to me. And then, it escalated beyond that point.

One night I watched as he attempted to kill his own father. And it was then I decided to leave him. I was pregnant again, and I wanted to take my oldest child, and the one that was yet to be born, away from all the suffering.

On the heels of this, my grandfather passed away. And at the time, while pregnant, I was running a 102 fever. And my husband refused medical treatment so he could by Christmas presents. So I went to my grandfather's funeral extremely sick. And when I shed tears, it was not for the man who I had idolized and considered my second father, because I realized he was in a better place and out of pain.

Having decided beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was leaving, I prepared to go. But he demanded I leave my oldest daughter with him to ensure that I would return to him. Instead, in order to keep my child with me, I gave into his request to act as if nothing had changed and I let him rape me the night before I left with a 102 fever.

The next day, I left with my beautiful child and the one I carried within me. And I made the arduous journey back to Tennessee, still ill beyond imagining.

From there, I again began to rediscover the overwhelming sense of isolation, which again spiraled me into a deep depression. But this time, there were no thoughts of ending my life, despite the pain.

Some time later, when I was in my 7th month of pregnancy I was finally able to go to a doctor. After my first visit, the doctor insisted I be put into the hospital because I was suffering from something call toxemia/preeclampsia. What this meant was that both my unborn child and I were both in danger. For me it was a danger of having a stroke and for my child, it meant the possibility of dying inutero. And ultimately, within a week of the first time I visited my doctor and went into the hospital, I gave birth to my child, who stayed in the hospital in the neo-natal unite for over a month because she was born so early.

The emotional trauma of everything that had accumulated within my life, and had not truly been dealt with at that point, began to take its toll on me once more. And yet again, I did not contemplate suicide, because I knew, by this point, that I was not alone and I was supported by both family and deity.

Slowly after this last experience, I began to focus on myself and my children. I began to heal quietly in my perceived isolation. And that alone, was a journey that took years to come to terms with, deal with, and rediscover myself and my own potential through. And in all of those moments, of uncertainty, fear and depression, I clung to the fact that I was not alone.

The person who suffered all of that trauma, changed....grew up a bit, if you will. I learned to forgive and let the past go. And I learned to smile and laugh again.

I can not sit here and say that this is every person's story. We all experience life's ups and downs in our own way. And we cope with them the best way we know how. Nor can I say this is a full accounting of everything in my life, but these are the most important details I feel like I need to share here.

And through it all, what I discovered about myself is that I am an Empath who shares the feelings of others, who in fact has even drowned in them from time to time. And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that these were my life lessons to be learned from, so that I could grow and develop into someone.....who was better than what I used to be.

The Empath

Empathy, which is the main gift of an Empath, is a double edged sword. It can give one the amazing ability to see things from other people's perspectives and to share in their pain. But it also has its down side.

An Empath with unresolved emotional issues in their lives, will often describe their gift as though the feel like they are drowning beneath the onslaught of other people's emotions. They can not discern their own emotions from others. And sometimes, they even lose their own sense of identity in the act of empathizing so deeply with other people. It can leave them bereft and confused, even to the point of being suicidal.

This arises because the Empath has so many unresolved issues in their lives that they can not form healthy boundaries, detachment, and the ability to say no to people who are in need. It is almost as though they are driven to give help even to the point of willingly sacrificing themselves, without limits or concerns of self preservation, to the needs and desires of others, in the name of Empathy.

And as much as one would like to believe that this is noble, in the extreme, and altruistic, it is based on the fact that they are unable to face the reality of their own lives and the multitude of issues and emotions there in, which tends to be filled with self loathing and hate. So they turn, instead, to others, who are in need of support, validation, and love. And this gives them a superficial sense of value and worth. But the most resounding truth of this action, is that when we see no innate value within ourselves, these types of actions are self destructive, not healthy acts of love and compassion.

Because what happens when the adulation, praise, and thanks disappear? What happens when the Empath who does this is left alone again, with no one to help? It brings them to their knees because they are forced to face their own private demons and the issues they have repressed and/or run away from in the first place.

These types of acts, stave off the onslaught of one's own suffering....for a time. But ultimately, Empath or not, we come full circle and must face those things time and time again. Because they might be hidden for a time, as we distract our minds from those issues in order to focus on other people's problems, but they are not really gone. And they resurface no matter how much we do to distract ourselves from their reality.


We all suffer, in our own respective ways (despite the level of suffering). We all doubt. And we all know fear in our hearts. These things are an unavoidable part of life, despite how we might wish to the contrary.

But you are NEVER truly alone, despite how it feels in your moments of doubt, indecision, fear, and sorrow. And there is hope, if you will allow yourselves to see it, recognize it for what it is, and cling to it, despite the momentary pain the assails you.

There are people in this world, who will understand you and share in your pain, Empath or not. And who will not judge you, despite what you've done, who you imagine yourself to be, and where you stand in life. And that one concept, while hard to fathom in singular moments of pain and suffering, is a truly life changing idea.

So remember, you are loved and supported. And know, not everyone places the value of who you are in your actions, the self deprecating you heap upon yourself, or the way you perceive yourself.

And you are only a victim of your own life, as long as you truly believe it. Because on the other side of that coin, you are also a survivor who has been empowered by the suffering you have gone through. Let them be your life lessons, as you learn to heal yourself and offer help to others. Because beneath the facade of your own self loathing, shame, guilt and behaviors, there is a person full of potential who basks in the light of hope eternal.

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