As a kid, I was labeled as being too sensitive. I was also pegged as the peacemaker in the family. I realize now that I was trying to keep the peace to survive.
As an adult, I’ve realized I’m an empath. I feel both the good and the bad in extremes, and as a kid, I was often overwhelmed with the emotions I absorbed from my own family, which wasn’t always a place of peace and harmony.
A few traits of empaths include being highly sensitive, needing alone time to recharge, being highly intuitive which sometimes results in giving too much of yourself, and most importantly, empaths absorb the emotions of other people.
It’s a curse to be the family empath. It was a curse as a kid, and it is a curse as an adult too. I’m trying to find ways to turn it around to my advantage, or at the very minimum, survive all these big emotions my dysfunctional family makes me feel.
As a child, I remember internalizing a lot of the negative emotions that existed between my parents. When they were stressed about financial obligations and marital problems, I was stressed too. When they fought, I was an emotional mess. Since I was just a kid at the time, I didn’t know what the heck an empath was. Instead, I was pegged as a crybaby.
Now that I’m an adult, I realize that it’s important as the family empath to practice self-care and find ways to cope when there are negative emotions around me.
Of course, being an empath isn’t all bad. I am a good friend because I empathize with others’ problems easily. When you’ve got good news, I’m over the moon happy for you. When things are moving along smoothly, I’m the most pleasant person in the world to be around because I tend to absorb the positive energy and reflect that in my mood.
When things go south, it sends me into a spiral of anxiety, and sometimes I can’t put my finger on why I’m in such a foul mood. I’ve finally learned to step back and analyze my emotions, find the source of the negativity, and do my best not to internalize the feelings and actions of others in an unhealthy way.
The roller coaster of emotions that I’m absorbing on any given day is a lot to handle. Sometimes, I just need a freaking hour (or 12) when I don’t have to feel everything. I need time each day to recharge.
The responsibility of trying to balance the emotions of all of the different family members is overwhelming at best.
So I have to be mindful not get sucked in by the wild emotions of the people I love. I want to take away their pain when they are sick, and I feel terrible for days after they have told me of any of their struggles. Of course, we always feel sad and angry when people we care so much about are struggling, but this goes beyond that. It weighs me down for far longer than it should.
I’ve learned to try to detach from what they are feeling, so that I don’t feel it so intensely right along with them. The problem is, the emotions I’m constantly regulating require fighting a battle with intense feelings not just daily, but sometimes, hourly, and that is the reason why being the family empath can feel like a curse. I have to constantly check myself, regroup, deep breathe, and remind myself that my family’s emotions don’t have to control mine.
If you’re not an empath, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. You think I’m just a hot mess. You go about your day unaffected by those around you, but those that are empaths are fighting daily to regulate their emotions in an appropriate, healthy manner.
A phone call from a family member giving me some bad news can bring me down for the week, even if the news doesn’t affect me, and at 47 years old, I still find myself fighting the urge to get wrapped up in my parents’ issues and worries. I still feel the same way I did as a child, living under their roof, and trying to keep the peace for everyone.
I’m finding that the key to living your best life as an empath is to find balance, find time for myself (whether I want to or not).
On one hand, I love being able to feel so deeply, relate so intensely, and make others feel loved and cared for. That is a gift. On the other hand, sometimes I want to just take a freaking break and not feel like my world is going to crumble just because someone in the family is upset over something I have zero control over. For that reason, sometimes being the family empath feels like the ultimate curse.