The other day, quite by accident, I discovered that I have yet another label to tote around with me along with all of my other labels like ADHD, a dyslexic, mom, wife, sister, OT, daughter, student, friend, yoga instructor, etc. The people in this world of ours will always carry around ‘labels’ because it helps with categorization, I suppose, explaining why you are the way that you are.
At an early age, for whatever reason, I knew very well the difference between sympathy and empathy as if it was part of my very fiber as a human being. I didn’t know that I would discover, years and years later, WHAT I was and why my heart would get so heavy when it came to injustice to human beings, animals, etc.
In conversation with one of my OT moms that I have some sort of wonderful connection with, I discovered what an ’empath’ was and that more than likely I was one.
My OT mom gave me a few websites to take quizzes to determine if I was indeed one of these empath people.
After taking several quizzes on the subject, my new label became loud and clear and explained so much about ‘me’ over the years.
Here’s what I mean . . .
As a young girl, I would absolutely have a come apart if I saw a classmate of mine picking on another classmate because as I would observe the look on the ‘picked-ons’ face, I would feel the pain they felt as if I was the actual kid getting picked on and it hurt, y’all, it really did. When these situations would happen, I’d step in and be the bully patrol and put the bully in their place rather quickly and with a future warning that if this happened again, there would be hell to pay.
If I saw an animal hurt, I could feel the actual pain subconsciously that it must be feeling and it would scare me at times. I hated seeing things in physical or emotional pain. Feeling all of this at such a young age was very hard and I often found myself sad and depressed about it but prayed a lot for these unfortunate situations, which brought me closer to God I suppose.
As I got older, I discovered that there were certain movies that I absolutely could not watch because the ‘what if’ of the movie would cause such physical and emotional pain for me, I’d be down for the count emotionally for days. Literally in the bed crying uncontrollably.
For example, the first time I watched the movie ‘The Color Purple’ with Oprah as a main character depicting the life of slavery, I was inconsolable for 3 days, yes 3. I felt all of what it must have felt like to have had to be a part of and live this slavery life and all of the injustice and pain that came of it.
This happened again to me when I watched the movie ‘Titanic’ with Leonardo Decapria because it was based on a true story to a degree. As I watched that boat tip and those precious human beings falling and banging into stuff on the way down to the frigid water, it was everything I could do not to come completely apart and melt away. I felt the fear, the pain, and the gravity of how they must have felt staring death right in its face.
‘Passion of the Christ’ nearly killed me all the way as I watched Jesus get brutally tortured by those idiot soldiers and became aware of what His mother was feeling, something I had not allowed myself to consciously be made aware of because I knew it would hurt beyond words. I was inconsolable in the movie theatre and had to leave early and sit in the lobby until it was over. Still to this day I ask God, “Why did it have to be so bad for your Son? Why couldn’t He had just carried the cross and been crucified only. Why the torture to this good decent man?” In church, when it is the Passion and everyone chants the words, “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” I can’t and never have participated because I know above all else, I would have never OK’d this, NEVER!
Not many people know this about me and I didn’t really know this about myself until a few weeks ago but often wondered why my emotional response was so crazy intense compared to others.
Being an empath helped to finally explain why I canNOT watch war movies as I feel the fear, the pain, and the fight. I think of those soldiers not as soldiers but as sons, daughters, husbands, wives, human beings, etc.
When 911 happened, I was so upset by it, I went into labor early with my daughter. Watching those terrified people jump to their deaths so as not to be burned alive . . . I really have to stop here because I’ve caused myself to cry just now.
Anything with ‘life’ is precious. This means people, plants, bugs, trees, animals, etc. My family makes fun of me because I will not kill a bug, like a wasp for example, got in my clinic the other day and I caught it and let it go. My OT kids and mom was shocked and as I told my family later, they just shook their heads at me chuckling. They know this little nugget about me.
My OT mom said something that made my empathetic heart feel a bit better about having this label. She said that my empath label makes me a better OT for the kids and families that I work with and at that moment, I knew that God had a plan for me all along. He knew that it would hurt and cause me some stout emotional pain, but it was all in His plan for the kids and families I work with and to this I have to say, “Thanks God, it hurts, but it has all been soooo worth it.”