The last few months have taken me through a wellspring of reflection as I’ve become reacquainted with myself. The biggest reflection has been the role my empathetic nature has had on my behavior and how I’ve chosen relationships in my life - for better or for worse.
I’ve always been empathetic - extremely so. I’d be the child crying watching a TV commercial or the teen comforting a friend over a tortuous teenage breakup (while wondering why I had such a hard time with relationships myself). I often played the chameleon - mimicking what others wanted in me just to try to fit in. At the same time I felt guilt over doing so because it wasn't who I was a felt like a game. I was very, very alone even though I had lots of friends - not knowing how to handle all the mixed messages that were coming my way. And it didn’t help to be part of family unit whose German heritage saw emotions as a sign of weakness (in their eyes). All I knew was emotions were my life and the center of my being - mine,... others,... often thrown at me in a barrage that my teen ego was ill equipped to understand.
So I did my best to bury that part of me and just fit in. Thing is - you can’t exactly turn it off even if you decide to ignore what it’s telling you. My dates would go miraculously well after the first day or few days - often with my romantic interest talking about marriage or future plans like he’d found his soulmate. After a week, they'd back away in fear. And it wasn't just the men in my life. It seemed the closer I got to someone, the more they opened up. The more they opened up, the more my empathetic nature would kick in as I felt cared for and accepted. The more my nature kicked in, the more I could sense things in my new found companion. And after a week my initial empathetic care would feel invasive or even like an attack to some. And I think that is likely the normal reaction. We live in an era where community has broken down and people relate more to video games & TV than to their neighbors. More and more of us have emotional scars, addictions, loneliness, and lots & lots of secrets that leave us struggling with our self image. I personally know those struggles so very well & can understand why someone with empathy might seem like that internal mirror that we avoid looking at as we walk by. Humans - by putting ourselves above the other creatures of this beautiful world - have lost the ability to commune with each other on a grander scale and take comfort in the communion. On a individual scale, our need for that grander companionship coupled with the fear of 'emotional' weakness has left us tortuously confused.
There is no greater insight than to realize your true nature. Personally, I'm working to accept who I am and accept the gifts I've been born with regardless of how difficult that may be. After all, I'll never learn how to live with them without trying. Sticking my head in the sand in fear will only leave me with a life that is shallow and full of half truths. So...here's to trying to be who I was always want to be - FINALLY. Wish me luck.