empath, who?

note. in the upcoming months we’ll dig deep into emotional support. lets see what it means to support ourselves in moments of unexpected change.

this is the first story from the emotional support series.

back in twenty-fourteen in peru, “elsa, i think you’re an empath.”

“a what?” i asked.

“an empath. a person who feels what others feel,” paul said.

“i don’t understand.”

“you said how you feel about people, and when you’re around david. your feelings feel accurate. i think you’re an empath. you’re able to feel what others feel.”

“maybe you’re right. i don’t know.”

i had never heard the word empath before. and if i had, i never recorded the word in mind but on that day i made a note. it was a humid afternoon in december deep in the rainforest in iquitos, in the outskirt of the biggest town surrounded by the one only, the amazon jungle.

moneyless and lost, i was volunteering at a retreat.

i remember, in amaru spirit, i sat in a circle with paul and chris, both americans by birth, and with open cards we shared how we feel about this and that. a day prior we had drunk ayahuasca. a globally known medicinal brew with drops of dmt. its also called a psychedelic drug. some frown when i say words like this, but its okay.

we shared what we saw, felt, and experienced, but most of all we shared our feelings about people with whom we shared mosquito resistant houses, superfood meals and sacred ceremonial rooms. i openly shared my feelings when close to many. what i felt in their words n’ actions, in their silence n’ inaction. feelings i felt in my drug-free states.

i realised then, i often use phrases “i see” and “i feel” when i form my sentence. neat to know, i didn’t know what it means but i was eager to know to dig deeper with my addiction to grow and evolve.

in the meantime . . .

three healers, three times, within three weeks, in three different locations, all in the heart of amazon, said the same thing, “you have energy parasites.”

when i heard what they said i wanted to run. i wanted to hide.

still today i cry in remembrance of david’s words, “we can’t help you. its out of our control. its gone too deep.” he delivered the translation from the peruvian healer, anthony. i got scared. apparently, i was doomed for life, and it didn’t feel good.

shit, i thought. what are those? get them out. i can’t travel like this. i can’t transmit bad energy to others. i would hate myself if i’d do that. my personality and energy is all i have. its all i know to give.

cast with the spell, i got thrown into hell. darkness switched on but hope showed up with its thin light led in the darkest cell.

for weeks in healer’s heaven, i did what it takes to fix myself. moments before the spell i drunk some drinks with a joyful heart.

when cast with the spell, i heard them say something like this, “pay me, we’ll help you then.” within days i borrowed over one thousand u.s dollars, and i sent it all to david.

moments after the spell i drunk some drinks with a fearful heart. all medicine of gods advised by healers. ayahuasca went first. after three ceremonies in, i heard david say, “we can’t help you.” days later he transferred most of the money back, but not all. i then met ernesto, and tobacco went second.

a week later, for a month with closed eyes, i had purged, and travelled on anxious lands to fix my field what was said to be damaged by people, places, things.

once i came out from my throw-up days i sensed the world like dogs smell things. it wasn’t easy to mingle in crowds. in fact, it never has been, but after my cleanup days i could barely breathe around people, places, things.

being in silence was all i wanted.

and it was then when a shift dropped in . . .

my feelings and thoughts were completely different when around people, places, things compared to when alone with myself.

hyper confused, i didn’t know what it means.

automatically, i recalled the words paul had said just weeks before, “you’re an empath. when you’re around people you feel what they feel.”

in january twenty-fifteen, i took his words, and i did what any analyst would do. i went back in time, i tracked my recent events, to make sense of it all. i chose moments with extreme highs and infinite lows. i scanned them all by reliving them all.

if i am an empath, i heard myself think, there has to be an answer in this.

two recent major events poked my heart.

days ago i had been at the market. i shopped with a friend in a serious mood. about twenty minutes in, on our way out, we walked straight into skipping kids. two girls, about ten-year-olds with ponytails. once i saw then, i felt an immense joy bursting my heart. i stopped, and lit up like a christmas tree. i spoke some spanish, i forgot my friend, and then skipped with them a meter apart. minutes later, i recalled my friend. i said my bye’s and jogged back to her, while knowing, its the last place i wish to go right now.

shoulder to shoulder with victoria, my smiles got wiped in less than a minute. i was back in a poker-face mood with heavy topics dragging my soul.

later, when all alone, i felt somewhat relaxed. not serious. or joyful. just relaxed.

i saw then, being with both felt impersonal to my personal experience.

one event down. one more to go.

i then slingshot two weeks back when minutes to midnight i was thrown out from a flat. with my bags on a bench at ‘plaza de armas’ i moaned in silence. i thought back what went wrong. my host, a forty-something european man, called andré, sold coca leaves to foreigners of all color n’ size, also to david. he was the only expat in the forbidden business. he had a kind heart, he took me in when david rushed me out.

after my first day with andré, whenever with him, i felt joked by life. i couldn’t breathe. i felt madly insecure, and deeply depressed. whenever alone, i felt somewhat relaxed. but the minute he stepped into my space, tension grew.

on my fatal night i felt, today i’m gonna get in trouble. after our joined chewing, he went to bed, but i couldn’t bare a thought to sleep shoulder to shoulder with him. i felt heaviness drag my soul. so i stayed up to win some time. instead of reading, i went for an extra handful of leaves. once i snatched, i felt betrayed. i then hid my bowl, and in worry i chewed his coca leaves on his couch. but minutes in, he got a sniff, and raced at me in his rented flat.

ten minutes to midnight he burst these words, “pack your bag. get the fuck out.” i took the hit, and with “i am sorry” on my lips i walked out into the warmth of christmas air.

later, when all alone, i felt mistreated by andré, and truly betrayed by self as i had cut the heart that fed my stay. with an explosive mind, my body was somewhat relaxed.

i saw then, being with him felt impersonal to my personal experience.

and perhaps, i thought back then, and i feel it today, the betrayal i felt, were the feelings he felt within himself which i translated as if they were my personal feelings.

i then lived through a sea of interaction with people, places, things i had had while backpacking the world, but the doubtful analyst in me needed more records to collect, so i went further. i dug up my past from all i could face until my first grade.

i saw, how on n’ off, i fluctuated, i jumped extremes, from high to low, and vice versa.

whenever alone i drowned in thoughts, or i created something in peaceful relaxation.

whenever not alone, i had thoughts and feelings first foreign to me which, as time went by, i adopted all of them as if they were always mine. meaning, the thoughts i had also became the thoughts i thought of myself which other empaths could feel when in my presence.

simply put, i was stuck in a vicious circle.

and i saw, i had been unbalanced all through my life.

after another trip on the memory lane i welcome the insight shared by paul, i guess, i am an empath after all.

i noticed, whatever i felt in others became my personal experience.

more plainly put, whatever i felt in others was who i became when in their presence. and whatever i felt in them became my experience of what i thought they thought of me.

i then heard a wisdom, the thoughts what i thought they thought of me weren’t mine. they were thoughts they thought of themselves which i translated as if they’re mine. hence, they were not personal to me, but also, not personal to them. they were collective. i became to see, we all identified with the world around.

years later i can say, i wasn’t aware of my experience independent of other people’s experience.

when alone, only then, i came to know my personal experience.

when not alone, i came to know someone else’s personal experience whilst unaware of my own personal experience.

from alone to not alone, i flipped from personal to impersonal, and then back n’ forth. i had done it for years, for two decades at least, from what i saw and felt whenever i shuffle through my past.

that’s all for today. we’ll continue next month.

before you go, here are questions to your heart.

what if i am an empath, an energetically sensitive soul, who feels what others feel?

what if i translate someone else’s feelings into what i think they think of me not knowing, it’s how they think of themselves when they’re in my presence?

from my personal experience i feel, we’re all empaths. some are more sensitive. some less.

i see, the more aware i become, and the more i allow myself to feel fully, the more i feel i live in my own personal experience in the presence of people, places, things. and the less codependent my relationships are. in a pattern like this, i blame less. i judge less. and i feel safer within myself.

i invite you to check in — how do you feel when you’re alone versus how do you feel when you’re not alone.

next story: slippery slope