By the time I walked in my front door at 12:00am, I had accumulated such a level of exhaustion that I was a bit shocked my old, tired feet had made it all the way home at all. Two back-to-back 12 hour days working in DTLA had eclipsed all sense of being a human. (Broke writers around the world know the grind). Too tired to relax, too hungry to eat. For this long work week, my needs, my real life, my life’s purpose at large had been put not on the back burner...but on a different oven entirely. In someone else’s house.
I’d put so much time and energy into making some extra cash (as opposed to creating what I came on earth to create), that my life was not my own anymore. All energy had been all used up and not for my own soul-designated priorities: writing, developing spiritually and personally, or even more simple tasks like shaving my legs just once this week. All that work for extra cash and I was officially spent.
The Moment of Misstep
The real struggle I find in being empathic in any capacity is in simply remembering that the moment I leave the house, the emotions I experience might not be my own. Empaths pick them up constantly, when we’re not careful; we practically breathe them in without thinking. Being empathic - plus some unfortunate childhood conditioning - means an unhealthy desire to help others at every turn, even at my own demise. The more our hearts are able to feel and empathize with others, the more they feel it is their duty do so. As if they must. Must over-commit. Must pick up the emotional baggage of other people. Must overextend themselves to cover the slack of other’s laziness or even just succumb to that slight, lingering dissatisfaction that a colleague or client brings into the room. For empaths it feels like our duty; to do otherwise would be to hurt, betray or abandon others.
In moments like that, it doesn’t readily cross my mind to project some kind of heart-focused armor and stay focused in my own energy, or even be more discerning of the feelings I let in. Before I know it, it’s the end of a long week and I’m so tired I can hardly think, so sad I can hardly keep from crying, and so deep in an unnamable turmoil (of someone else’s creating) that I don’t know where to begin the act of cleaning my internal house. It feels like both a physical and non-tangible heavy, heavy weight on my shoulders, and because I’m not sure why I feel that way - how could I know? It’s someone else’s feelings from someone else’s experiences - it’s all the more daunting to get rid.
Factors of Feelings
The weightiness an empath feels, at least for me, compounds with certain factors. First is my own physical energy: the more tired I am, the less resistant I am to other people’s pain. I can tell how good of a job of resisting I’m doing based on the other person in this equation. If I witness a profound transformation from angry, bitter, sad or depressed into a state of joy, carefreeness or playfulness as they talk to me, all the while as my own exhaustion and sadness grows, it let’s me know I played the role dumping ground to their garbage. Whatever feelings their own heart and soul couldn’t digest have been regurgitated onto me. Poor quality sleep, inadequate time I had to myself to recharge (#selfcare), means I’m all the more susceptible.
The second is the other’s level of innate compassion. Their are the friends and colleagues who have the wherewithal to consider how their mood affects people around them. But for every one of those, there’s about three people that are singularly focused on themselves (read: selfish, bad at teamwork, completely closed to opposing opinions, always claiming victimhood, etc) whom are rarely concerned with their impact on others. Empaths need be very careful around this second type, meticulously so. Empaths must be ruthless - which is truly against our nature, but life’s about growth! - of the people they let into their inner, most intimate circles of friendship. Beware the person who constantly shows up to group settings in a bad mood and never apologizes for it or attempts to drop it at the door.
The third, and maybe most important, is my own protective. A morning meditation, time spent alone in contemplation, dreaming or artistic expression, a foresight into the week ahead for times when I can creatively express and explore my emotions in safe ways before they compile inside is vital. Without these, I’m ill equipped to enter public spaces. I go out into the battlefield of the social world without a shield.
But what about when it’s too late, for instance this week when I’ve over extended myself and I’m already drained? One of my solutions is so shockingly simple and fun, you might not have considered it.
To physically, maybe even violently, remove it.
If it had any grace to it, you might even call it:
A shaking of the proverbial rug that’s at the center of your soul’s home.
Surprisingly, it was in offering more energy that revitalized me. I walked into the house, the lights still off, the smell of the eucalyptus plug in mingling with old laundry and dirty dishes in the sink, but rather than piling on the burden of what must be done in my precious time at home, I took off my shoes, put in my headphones, closed my eyes and started to sway.
Cleaning (Internal) House
At first, self consciously too aware, I moved only back and forth, until my shoulders and hips started to gather themselves into the beat of “Call Your Girlfriend”. My head to heavy to hold up, it hung listlessly in the sway as I pulled out the too-tight, too-polished bun my hair had been twisted in, and with every move I took off one more piece of clothing. Until my entire body moved pleasingly, cathartically to the music. Until the movements felt fun, playful, and joyous. Until I was able to completely let go, and my body began to speak back to me and said “Yes! Move! Move! SHAKE! SHAKE!” and with that I began to violently, urgently shake and jump, removing from my physical presence any negative emotion stuck in the muscles, the bones, the joints. Forcibly shaking it all out of my body, mind, soul, and every system. Until I felt clean again somehow, exhausted and burned out in the right way for the first time this week. I finished the song swaying, rolling, twisting, leaping, and feeling my own curves in my hands, my fingers through my hair, my neck rolling freely again.
When the song ended I crawled right into bed, satisfied and baptized, and slept for 12 straight hours.
What rituals or practices does my soul need me to adopt in order to prepare it for social interaction?
Once I am home, in a safe space, what ways can I release that energy in a constructive way?
Am I regularly allowing the negative energy of others to be released into/onto me? Do I believe I somehow 'deserve' it?