Those Fighting Battles Unseen
There’s a beautiful piece of advice that says we should be kind and compassionate towards everyone because everyone we meet is fighting a secret war. As a supervisor and small business owner, I have found this to be true.
I have had people who worked for me—even people who seemed joyous and confident—pour out their hearts to me about horrible situations going on in their private lives. Impending divorces, physical abuse, financial woes, addictions of all sorts, cheating spouses, spouses molesting children, ex-partners trying to take away custody, parents with Alzheimer’s, children in jail, mentally ill siblings, narcissistic mothers, diagnosis of terminal illness.
I think, by now, I’ve seen and heard it all. Not that anyone else working for me knew these things. These were tearful admissions behind closed doors because they had to tell somebody–somebody–what was going on and what battles they were privately fighting. For most of them, as long as it stayed out of the court system, no one knew. I wouldn’t have known either had they not worked for me.
As an empath, I don’t always shield, especially when I am keeping my antennae out in case someone close to me needs me or is hurting. Usually when my shields are down and someone who is bonded with me hurts, I can sense that. I can also sense who it is, who’s hurting.
Every now and then, I will feel something amiss, but I can’t identify the source. That’s usually when I put out a call to all of my family and friends and, occasionally, to co-workers. I’ll know it’s someone I have a connection with or I’m in the proximity of them, but I still can’t really identify who’s hurting. All I know is that it’s not me. These feelings come, usually, at a time when everything in my life is good and I’m feeling mostly happy. Then, out of the blue, WHAM!
The last time this happened, I was on my way to meet a friend and enjoy a little down time when I ran into a woman from work. She put on a big smile and headed in the other direction, so I didn’t make the connection when, half a minute later, I got walloped by an overwhelming sadness that made me want to crawl out of my skin. It happened almost exactly the same time that I arrived at my destination.
Once I was sure that the friend I was visiting was not in distress, I became almost obsessed with figuring out who it was. It didn’t feel like close friend or family. More like a proximity blast than a familial bond. I took to my usual method of tracking down the source. Rather than calling or shooting e-mails to everyone I know, I posted the question on social media to friends, family, co-workers, church members, and anyone else in my social circle. I was pleased to see so many people say, “Not me.”
And then, the most amazing thing happened. For the next two days, I received message after message. Some from close friends who live far away and others from old friends I haven’t seen in years but connect with on social media. These were the people who said, “If you’re feeling someone’s sadness, it might be mine.”
They went on the tell me the same kinds of stories I’ve heard from people who have worked for me. Private, heart-wrenching stories of job loss, medical problems, family problems, financial problems. By this time, I already knew whose pain it was I had felt, and it wasn’t any of these people. Nor would I ever have expected what they were going through privately.
The only reason they told me was because they thought I already, intuitively, knew it was them, or that it might be them, and they were trying to alleviate the pain I was picking up. It made me sad to know how much pain these friends and colleagues were in and what secret wars they were fighting and fighting mostly alone.
In the end, there were far more who shared their secret burdens with me than there were friends who said, “Not me. I’m feeling great.”