In previous blog posts, I have mentioned that I am an empath. I wanted to give a brief overview since many people do not know what that means. I’ve been researching this topic for a few months now as I have been trying to gain a full understanding of myself.
What is an empath?
An empath is different than someone feeling empathy. A lot of people feel empathy, but not all of those are empaths. An empath feels extreme empathy and can usually sense how someone is feeling even if it is unsaid. Then, the worst part (sometimes the best part) of all of that is that we absorb what everyone is feeling, which can be exhausting. For example, the other night when I was at a function with a close friend one of the speakers knocked over a large sign/poster when he stood up to speak. I turned bright red and had to cover my eyes. My friend looked at me and said, “Did you just get embarrassed for him? You know you didn’t just knock over the poster in front of everyone right?” Oh yeah, I felt that embarrassment though. I then had to go on and explain how that happens with every emotion, real or even in films. I must be careful about who I am around and what I’m watching because it can send me into an overwhelming place.
I have always been this way. As a kid, I was highly sensitive. As an adult, I am highly sensitive, but have learned to manage it better. People who are negative or loud really bother me. Again, not in a “man that person is super annoying,” kind of way but in a way, that causes me exhaustion or physical pain.
The other piece of this which is extremely important for people to understand is that I get exhausted after being around people all day. On weeks, like this one, where I am around people for extended periods multiple days in a row, I can hardly function. My whole body hurts and I can barely keep my eyes open. I love my friends but on days like today, if they want to see me, I physically cannot do it even if I want to. I must sit in silence and try to recharge. Sometimes I need a whole weekend in absolute silence to ground myself after a particularly exhausting week. I won’t make excuses, “no” just has to be a sufficient enough response if people want to go do things.
Empaths are also extremely sensitive to sights, sounds, and smells. Living with other people is difficult, living with other people who do not understand that you need silence is impossible. I remember when I was living with Jon, he worked from home, I did not. I would come home from work, exhausted from being around children all day and needing silence. He had been at home alone all day and needed someone to talk to. It was a lot for me and I would become grumpy. It was too much for me to have conversations immediately once I got home. He also needed tons of background noise and music all the time. He didn’t like silence. This was also a struggle for me. This happened with Jacob as well, he loved having background noise and I desperately needed silence. I couldn’t blame either of these men, they were not empaths and they certainly didn’t understand my needs. I certainly didn’t communicate them well, mainly because I didn’t understand my own needs.
My reason to tell you this is to create a little more understanding around people like myself and to call-in any people who have ever felt a little like this to maybe do some research of their own and find out if they are in fact empaths. Understanding myself better has also change the dating game for me. I know what I need and the person who I choose to be part of my life needs to be able to understand that and be sensitive to some of my needs, specifically, alone time.