All my life I have felt as though I were “different” from others around me. Never quite fit in at school, never quite fit in at home, was teased a lot, told I was “too sensitive”, was thought to be a lot younger than I am (or conversely, referred to as an “old soul”, and seemed to inspire either a bizarre protectiveness or utter disdain from most of the people I met.
A year or so into my bizarre spiritual journey, I found myself not only attending a Unitarian church, but also checking out their Wicca meeting. I thought it would be interesting to spend time with a group of folks who think so completely differently about their spirituality. It was. It turned out to be highly informative too. I happened to mention during the discussion that I had a strange aversion to spending time in crowded places (like Walmart and grocery stores). That I came home from them feeling utterly drained, even though being out-n-about causes me no anxiety and I don’t suffer from agoraphobia. One of them immediately piped up, “Ohhhh, you’re an empath!”
I’m a…..what? Thank goodness for Google. I spent the next few weeks doing a lot of research. Empaths are people who, among other things, have a psychic ability called clairsentience. Which, boiled down, means they can feel things – energy and emotions – that most people can’t (or, at an early age, chose not to). There’s some argument about whether or how much of the ability can be learned. And it’s not necessarily a weird, woo woo king of thing. Think of it as simply some of us were born knowing how to use slightly more than the average 5% brain capacity most “normal” folks do.
I’m an empath. Huh. Just saying it feels like being at an AA meeting or something. “Hi, my name is…… and I’m an empath.” Weird. And not easily reconcilable with my Christian upbringing. So I did what I always do – more research.
And… here’s where the heretic in me comes out. I think that the Christian community *recognizes* this ability. They just call it something else – in Christian terms, I have the Gift of Discernment. By the test of Occam’s Razor, and from conversations with other Christians who claim to have this gift, it would seem we share similar experiences with those who call it a psychic gift.
I’m not going to argue theology. But knowing that the secular world has a name for my gift (and research to back it up, though relatively new) makes me feel less alone. It also makes many of the weird experiences in my life make a little more sense. Here’s a list of some of them……
1. People were *always* telling me I was too sensitive and/or that I needed to grow a thicker skin.
2. I always got teased in school, even though I was quiet and studious and did my best to be unnoticeable. I learned how to be a chameleon as a coping mechanism. (Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.)
3. I have very few “neutral” relationships. I constantly have the odd experience of people seeming to love me or hate me from the first moment, sometimes before I’ve even opened my mouth.
4. In public places (mall, grocery store, churches I’m visiting) I’ll have people start staring at me for no apparent reason and I’ll feel their disdain, even though I generally do not dress in a flashy manner and always try to act considerately.
5. People are always opening up and telling me their life stories, sometimes in the oddest places (like in line at the store, or at the bus stop).
6. I have always been the “counselor” for family and friends. Most of the time I have enjoyed this. Sometimes I’ve had someone glom onto me who I wished would go away.
7. I seem to attract a disproportionate number of nuts and whackos in public places. I’ve had strangers in a mall or bookstore come up and tell me a sob story and ask for money. I’ve had people come up and pick fights with me (unprovoked) who I’ve never seen or spoken to before.
8. People are always bumping into me (when I’m walking around) or causing me near misses while I’m driving – almost as though I don’t take up any space – like they don’t even “see” me and are surprised to find someone there. This has happened a disquieting amount lately – and anyone who knows me knows I drive very defensively and am not in the habit of charging around.
9. Sometimes I “know” things. I know when someone’s depressed even though they are chatting away happily. I’ve known twice now before someone died that it would be the last time I’d see them in person (my husband’s grandpa and my dad). I know that a trip, or event, will go badly or cause some fallout even as I’m getting ready for it. Many times I’ll know who’s on the phone when it rings…..without looking at the caller ID. There’s other things too, but those give you a general idea.
10. Even when I go to bed early and sleep for 8-9 hours, if I remember dreaming I’ll feel like I’ve actually been out-and-about all night.
11. When my dad died, I was surprised to discover I could feel his actual spirit presence still around. No, this was not simply memory and remembrance. It had *location*. Mostly he was around his own house – I got the idea he was making sure my mom was okay. And then, his presence very definitely “left” somewhere around a year or so later. One day when we went to visit, his spirit was simply “not there” anymore. However I am pretty certain he was with me in the hospital when I was giving birth to his unseen 3rd grandchild.
12. I have sometimes felt like I was being watched by unseen beings – call them angels, call them demons – some had good intent and some ill. NO, I don’t hear voices in my head (or suffer from mental illness.)
13. At certain times (particularly the “old festival” times of solstice and equinox) I have the odd feeling of straddling the seen and unseen worlds. Though I’ve been a Christian all my life, Halloween night (Samhaim) feels different, special, hallowed, like it’s name. Maybe it’s just all that Celtic DNA in me.
14. I always feel ill and tired when someone around me is sick. It’s worst with my kids – almost like they get better by sucking their healing out of me. I have to be very careful to get lots of extra sleep and TLC. Many times I can’t and I will immediately get sick after they’re all better.
15. I have always had very vivid dreams/nightmares – some of them have been prophetic (though generally they only regard my own life events).
16. I seem to have an uncanny ability to help people heal, either with massage or praying and laying hands on them. That said, they have always been minor injuries/ailments. I’ve never prayed over and laid hands on someone with, say, cancer. And since I now know I am an only self-trained empath, I think it would be a bad idea to try (for my sake) unless it was for a loved one.
17. I get deja vu an awful lot.
18. I am very sensitive to changes in the weather, especially when the barometric pressure drops. I will suddenly feel headachy, flu-ish, and very tired. After the front passes I’ll start feeling better.
19. I’m very sensitive to loud noises and strong smells. Being at a loud crowded party drains me very quickly, even if I’m having fun.
20. I sometimes feel physically ill watching horrible news stories and graphic movies. I avoid them whenever possible.
21. Animals seem to glom onto me all the time (whether I want them to or not). Now, I love animals, but it’s hard when your friend’s two big dogs suddenly want to vie for your lap space.
22. I used to get anxious and depressed at home alone – until we adopted our cat. Laugh if you want but it feels like he helps keep the negative energy away from me.
Okay, that’s just the short list – I’m sure I could think of more if I sat here longer.
The point is, if I am really an empath, it explains an awful lot about the strange things that have happened all my life. Evidently others who identify with this have had very similar experiences.
I’ve been reading up on how others who are empaths cope. One especially helpful thing I learned is that many untrained empaths walk around wide open, like a giant psychic sponge – absorbing all the energy around them. Evidently if a person is an unaware empath, she unknowingly projects her aura *away* from herself, thus preventing it from being the spiritual protective layer it’s supposed to be. Also, others can sense this power, or difference, and react by either being unnaturally attracted or repelled – even though they are completely unaware of why.
I tried some of the meditation exercises yesterday, and being more aware of my mind at places where I’d previously been *very* uncomfortable (like, at the bus stop, where I spend half my life waiting for my kids’ buses). I realized that I have (probably ever since I was a little girl) “protected” myself from negative emotions by sending out “psychic feelers” wherever I go. I do this quite regularly and unconsciously. Without even realizing it I am making waves in the psychic atmosphere, and it is *this* that people are reacting to.
I made an effort yesterday to mentally “draw my aura in” and keep my feelings to myself and not unconsciously go probing around in other people’s heads. It’s hard – like a muscle that’s never been used. Hard too because I’m curious by nature. But I came home feeling so much less drained and so much happier. I’ve evidently been invading people’s privacy without even realizing it. Oops. Ignorance is rarely actually bliss.
How odd to think that my subconscious recognized this a long time ago. For years my favorite books and shows have involved people who suddenly find themselves with unusual abilities that they didn’t know they had, and need to figure out how to deal with them.