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.
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!