I would never dare be as honest with strangers in person as I am when I write. Maybe a piece of me feels like when I write, it’s really just to myself or for myself, maybe a handful of people. It’s one of the only times I feel I can be truly honest. When I pass someone and they do the polite thing that people do, whether I know them or not, when they ask the first small talk question everyone goes to: “How are you?” my answer is always, “Good, how are you?” Good is my answer when I’m good and when I’m the opposite. A lot of us do that. Some version of “fine” will do. We can’t dive deep into how our heart feels to someone we used to go to high school with in the middle of the grocery store. We could… but who would want to?
When I write, though, I’m more honest than I even am when I ask myself that question. Why are feelings so hard to admit sometimes?
I feel things deeply. So, incredibly deeply. I’m so deeply empathetic that it’s a large part of who I am, and why I tick the way I do; if you google “empath” that definition might as well pair with my name. Some of the first things defined are: major empathy, easily overwhelmed, strong intuition, love of nature, dislike of crowds, deep caring.
When you ask me how I am, I’ll say good. When I write, I cannot. The only time I ever feel drawn to write is when I’m feeling something so deeply, I’m having a hard time admitting it to myself. Much of the time, this is how I figure out what exactly it is that I’m feeling. My body spits it out before my mind has time to catch up.
I remember when I was a kid, my brother used to squirt anthills with the water hose. A lot of kids do that, right? But I begged him to stop. It bothered me so deeply that I would get teary-eyed because I worried about the ants once their home was destroyed. It must’ve taken so long for them to build that piece-by-piece. When I passed a bee, my response to being terrified of being stung was to speak kindly to them. Out loud. I would say little affirmations to them, because I was sure that they had feelings enough to understand that if I was kind to them, they would mutually agree to do the same for me.
And while I’m an extreme introvert and don’t love being around people, I feel this same way for humans. I always have. I care so deeply that I cannot watch the news because it just makes me cry and I carry it with me for days. Literally, days. Once I saw a video that someone shared on Facebook of an abusive Dad hurting a baby and I couldn’t sleep that night. I STILL cry every time I think about the depth of that; how much people hurt other people, how much people hurt in general.
I physically close my eyes if I see or think of something horrible or painful, to try and make it disappear. It sits too hard if I accept it in.
Another part of being an empath is strong intuition. My intuition has always been one of the strongest pieces of me.
One time a clock fell off the bathroom wall and cracked. My parents and I ran to see what the noise was and I said, “God must be trying to tell us that time is precious.” That night we got a call that my Uncle died.
Before my Grandpa died, I got a sickening feeling that I could NOT shake. After days of carrying it and not understanding why, I told my Mom: “I cannot explain this – truly – and it’s going to sound insane. But I have this overwhelming feeling that someone is about to die.”
The next week, with no warning whatsoever, my Grandpa died.
I had a dream after Grandpa died that he came back, and he said something to me that he used to tell me all the time, it felt so vivid, so real. When I told my family, my Grandma cried and said, “That’s exactly what I told him I needed to hear.”
I had a dream once of a lady I’d never met – who told me her name and that she was related to a family member of mine. I have never dreamt in black and white – and the rest of my dream was in color – but this lady was black and white. She told me she was in heaven, she was safe, and she hadn’t let anyone know yet, so she wanted to let someone know that she and my family member were together and okay. The next time I saw my Grandma, I asked her if she had ever heard of this lady and her jaw dropped to the floor. She said, “Yes. They were sisters, and very close friends.”
I dream about someone and wake up to a text from them.
I get really sad on specific days, not knowing why, only to realize later on that it’s the anniversary of someone passing.
I’ll think of someone for the first time in years and see them later that day.
My body feels things before I do.
I don’t think I’m psychic or insane.
But I am EXTREMELY sensitive to energy shifts. To everything, really. I think it’s why I’m able to feel these things I cannot explain.
To add to the list of things I’d never offer up unless it’s in writing; and because I cannot write about shallow things; something happened a few years ago that made our lives temporarily shut down. When something like that happens, it gets stuck. My therapist told me that: “Trauma gets stuck in our bodies until we can figure out how to let it out.”
Porter had these… spells. They started small, but out of nowhere. We noticed her tensing her body while she was playing just every once in a while. We asked her about them eventually, and she was aware it was happening, but didn’t know why she was doing it.
They grew. They went from being these small movements a few times a day… to being so constant, so life-interrupting, that we grew absolutely terrified second by second. Googling her symptoms definitely didn’t help… but even her doctor couldn’t explain it or understand it.
Porter’s whole body would tense up for a few seconds and then release. A few seconds would pass, and it would happen again. It was so frequent that when she would eat, she couldn’t get food into her mouth easily because her fork and food couldn’t stay in her hands when this happened. She was getting frustrated, constantly asking why it was happening. I was doing my best to mask how terrified I was when I’d answer her.
We were referred to a child neurologist and that waiting period was torture.
I journaled her every move.
What was she eating? What did we do the night before? Any new soaps? Detergents? Was it her glasses? What kind of lighting was in the room? What time of day were they worse? I think the most terrifying thing was that even after days of doing this – I couldn’t find any correlation, at all. No consistency.
I researched homeopathics, therapies, oils, everything I could get my hands on that gave me even the slightest hope that something would magically calm whatever was happening down, even just enough for relief for her.
I reached out to her eye doctor, friends who were physical therapists, I needed answers. Clues, anything.
Ultimately, we were waiting to see if she was having seizures. The fear of… why would they be happening – truly felt like it could’ve killed me.
A week from her appointment, I was driving to buy an insanely expensive kit that I had no idea would help – but I had to try. It was one of the only times I’d let her out of my sight since they started. I felt the energy shifts, the fear, the what-ifs, the absolutely no clues or answers, the NUMBING, lingering question of – is my daughter going to be okay?
I cried so hard I had to pull my car over because I lost my breath and felt simultaneously sick. I hit the steering wheel out of equal fear and anger. I prayed the prayer that every parent prays when something is wrong with their kid – that whatever she had would be given to me instead.
Throughout the next few days, my prayer changed. I just prayed that whatever was happening, whatever was about to happen, that I would have the strength and the faith to make it through it.
I wondered where my intuition disappeared to.
Between all of the things we were trying, and I still don’t know exactly what, something worked. Cognitive dark rest, vitamins, magnesium baths, homeopathics, Frankincense oils, sensory seeking activities, changes with her glasses prescription, taking away fluorescent lighting, dietary changes…. Some things added up just how they needed to.
And by the time we got to her brain scan, they had stopped completely.
Everything was clear. No seizures. No sign of anything wrong, at all. The best guess they had was to call them “shudder syndrome” spells. A benign, unexplainable, twitch of the body in kids that disappears on its own.
We were stunned and relieved and honestly wondered if the whole thing had been a dream.
For the first time in weeks, I allowed myself to breathe.
That energy shift in life was the biggest I’d ever lived in, and I think it got stuck.
Because every time, even years later, I see the slightest change or shift in my kids, I don’t just panic, I go numb.
The shift takes me right back to that window of time.
Whether it’s a stomach bug, a cold, a fever, a boo-boo, I’m in a constant state of trying to talk myself down from the extremity of “something deeper is wrong that we can’t see.”
It’s terrifying. It’s hard to admit. It’s hard to think about, to talk about. Hard to get un-stuck.
Shortly after this happened, Porter was referred to a Pediatric Opthemologist where we were told she needed surgery.
The waiting periods for that were numbing, too.
The vulnerability of watching your 4-year-old in a surgery setting is tough to explain.
The vulnerability of putting your 4-year-old in someone else’s hands completely, is tough to explain, too.
Maybe that got stuck a little, too.
Then she started school. I keep my phone glued to me because of the fear I have that something bad will happen at school and they’ll need to call me.
Today, I picked Porter up early. Since Kindergarten started, she has caught everything possible. But this morning she woke up with glassy eyes, a worse cough, and was so tired even after a normal amount of sleep that she fell asleep on the way to school.
I went numb, like I always do. The worry in Motherhood, for me, digs deeper by the minute. And it’s extremely difficult to take the shovel away from worry.
Is something deeper wrong? Why is my gut telling me to go get her? I need to follow my intuition.
Any other Mom will tell you – that Mom gut doesn’t usually steer you wrong.
But I wasn’t following my gut today, I was following worry.
Turns out, she was fine.
I think my point in all of this is – if we don’t take the time to get our feelings up, even though that process is messy and tedious and just plain hard, they get stuck.
When feelings are stuck, they steer.
Fear has been driving me for a good, long while.
So today, if you see me and ask me, I’ll say I’m good.
But because I’m writing, because I’m being honest: today, I’m scared.
I’m scared that I’ll always be this scared.
I’m scared that something deeper is wrong when it seems surface level.
That small things are really big. That stuck things will always be stuck. That bad things are always worse.
I’m scared of getting fear and intuition mixed up. Hell, sometimes I’m scared of my intuition.
Honestly? I’m scared of starting the process of getting this deeply-rooted fear un-stuck…
But then again, maybe I just did.
The thing about being an empath is that it’s equally hard and beautiful; the depth of things that I feel goes both ways.
While it is exhausting and incredibly hard some days, it is a blessing to be able to feel this deeply.
Afterall, who else will stand up for ants and speak kindly to bees?