The Empath’s Paradox

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Ebb and Flow.

As an empath, I like that I can have that kind of connection to people I care about. With my girls, it’s really an advanced form of maternal instinct or bonding. I’ll often know when one of my kids is upset or stressed, even be- fore Shannon swears she’s fine or Aislinn gives me her patented eye-roll  and then  uber-quickly denies  she was rolling her eyes at me.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

More than once, I’ve had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach  and known  absolutely  that something  was wrong, but not sure who the  feeling pertained to—so I started  the  process  of  phone  calls,  beginning  with  the girls, then my mom, then various friends that I have had close connections  to. My mom has a bad habit of telling me everything is fine  when I call her, so I call a dozen more people trying to pinpoint the empathic source to no avail, only to find out a week later that she’d gotten hurt and didn’t want me to know and worry. Now when I get those feelings and she tells me she’s fine, never better…I worry.

So for certain people I care about, I keep my shields down, antennae up. I want to know if something’s wrong. I want their subconscious  to reach out to me. I want to be able to think about them and know they’re okay by the ping I send out into the Universe. Some people might say that’s controlling of me.

So what? Granddaddy  lived several years longer because of  that  connection  and  his  riding  it  to  me  in  a dream. There are others who  are  alive today because of that connection and how it came as an early warning of a problem. Not that it’s always perfect, but when my head is  clear and my heart isn’t distracted  by issues with my dad or my ex or anything else to fog my focus, then that connection is pretty damned good and I treasure it.

But sometimes, I don’t realize I’m connected. I don’t realize, because I didn’t reach out to them. They reached out to me and connected and I didn’t even notice, much like if a daughter or loved one slipped a hand into mine and kept walking beside me and I didn’t realize until later that we were touching.

The best clue that I’m “tapped in,” comes from my emotions going all over the place, changing every 5 minutes. I generally  stay  in  an  emotion  for  several  hours, maybe even days, unless someone interrupts  it. But up, down, and everywhere—several  times—in one hour, is a sure  sign someone’s  connected  and I’ve not realized it. Once I do, it’s fine and I ride the waves.

With all the emotional issues of the past month with my dad’s illness, the pissing contest with my ex over the girls not being allowed to take their dog to his house, my homeowner’s association  taking  back  his  access  to  my neighborhood  under  the new  subdivision  rules,  end of the  fiscal year stresses,  Shannon’s  car in the shop, and more to grab and twist my attention, I’ve not noticed anyone being connected to me probably, oh, six weeks.

AngelSu  noticed  three  weeks  ago.  A  man  thinking about me. “Can’t you feel it?” she asked. I couldn’t. I had other things  upsetting  me that weekend.  I could feel a sense of contentment  from within, but not a connection from without.  Dang.  A man thinking  about  me, and I couldn’t feel it. Figures.

Then last week, a few days before the weekend, there was a hint of  excitement  and anxiety that wasn’t mine. Over the weekend, I was calm  and productive, and the days were beautiful and mostly relaxed. Yet, I had a sense of  dread,  anxiety,  heaviness  all  weekend.  On  Sunday night, a wave of sadness hit, late, that brought me to my knees. I couldn’t  figure out why. I was in a good mood but suddenly  so sad and longing, without reason. Today was more of the same. A sadness amid my productivity.

Then suddenly tonight at dinner, my feet started tap- ping.  I  started  moving  all  over.  Just  bouncy.  Excited. Here I was tired,  agitated  at having to wait in line, and suddenly enjoying a wave of something very bouncy and anxious but energetic and not able to sit still.

I looked across the dinner table at the girls after about twenty minutes  of wanting to jump out of my seat and dance around. Shannon was  catching it, too. Singing in the bathroom. Skipping out of the restaurant.  It took a while to calm it down (it’s still slightly a-buzz), but I knew then that it wasn’t me. I was picking it up from elsewhere and broadcasting it myself. But it wasn’t mine.

Sometimes,  the  connection  I get  is  sad  and  lonely, even when  I’m not, and sometimes it’s bouncy and ex- cited. Same person. I’ll keep  that connection open. Be- cause feeling the good stuff is worth feeling the rest, and I simply have to remember that it’s not mine and to let it pass  through…or to catch the good stuff when it comes and hang onto it!