When the world around you becomes too much,
when the chaos in your mind becomes too loud,
step back, stay in, and sit in your thoughts or
engage in that which brings you back to balance.
The world can wait. ˜ Honestly by Ellen Good
Very often I find myself needing to recharge. I am never quite certain why, but I seem to get to a point where my mind and body just, for a lack of a better word, poops out. I have always been envious of those who are able to keep moving and have an endless reserve of energy. I can burn the candle at both ends for only so long before I need to retreat to my place of peace.
I find peace and solace in my home. The chaos of the outside world can be overwhelming and heavy. This weight can cause anxiety and sensory overload and requires me to back off a bit. The mental retreat and decompression can last a day or sometimes longer. During this time I am fully capable continuing with daily routines responsibilities, but will often retreat to the calm of my home when the day is done.
I thought for many years this behavior may be the direct affect of social anxiety or I was simply an introvert, but these labels never set quite well with me. I typically function quite fine with others whether it is individually or in a group setting. Others have described me as outgoing and sometimes pretty darn funny. But no matter how socially appropriate I may have appeared, I still found myself preferring one-on-one meet ups. Don’t get me wrong, there are instances when I love the energy I experience in a larger group. It can be exhilarating and refreshing; an energizing high with out the intoxicating effects of a drugs. But and this is a large “but,” I can only be in these types of environments for a period before I need to escape. I like to do what some call the “Houdini.” Once I have had my fill and fun, I will leave unsuspectingly to avoid the typical, “Don’t leave yet!” or “Why are you leaving so soon?” How do you tell people, “It is just too much and I need to go?” I feel as if others would not understand. When I am done, I am done. There is no getting around it. If I do stay, I am usually pretty removed from the conversation and I am just in it for appearance sake. Not fully understanding why I feel the way I do, I just carried on with life with a question mark when it came to my social behavior and need for consistent alone time.
Recently that question mark has been replaced with an exclamation mark. For starters, I am thankful for social media and on-line networking because it was through these mediums I have found others who seem to feel just like me. I soon discovered that I do not have social anxiety nor am I necessarily an introvert. I am what some refer to as an empath. Empaths are those who are highly sensitive emotionally and physically. Empaths feel and are affected by the energy and emotions of others. Now, I am not real fond of adding unnecessary labels to oneself, but this one is a welcome as it has answered so many of my own questions. There is a great article in Psychology Today from February 19th, 2016 by Dr. Judith Orloff, M.D. that breaks down the definition and traits. To my surprise and relief, I found I identify with nine out of ten of the traits.
The most important thing I took away from the article is that empaths do need time to recharge and find balance after a long work week or when too much time is spent in large groups or with those that can me emotionally taxing. I felt a sense of peace knowing that this behavior is not abnormal and there are others that share these same experiences. I spend most of my weekends writing, reading and watching movies rather than going out and blowing off steam. My blowing off steam is finding a peaceful space, engaging in good conversation with a friend over coffee, or spending time with family where I can relax and be myself and in my thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy going out for drinks or to a concert on occasion, but that is not every weekend. This girl’s body could not handle it nor would want to.
One aspect that many do not understand about empaths is that they often have issues with intimacy and committed relationships. Another light bulb went off when I read this because I do and I have had commitment issues despite being married for nearly 16 years. Granted the marriage ending for various reason other than my empathic ways. Since my divorce many have questioned my single-hood and I am sure they have their own theories about me, but the truth is pretty darn simple; I do not feel the need to be with someone to find happiness and fulfillment. To me a relationship is like dessert; it is delightful when you indulge in it, but not a requirement for a great dinner. I have always been highly independent and I feel content experiencing life on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a partner to share life experiences with, but, again, I do not feel it is needed to sustain my happiness. I anticipate I will not leave this world alone. I am financially and emotionally independent but in order to allow myself to take that fall, the addition of a partner into my life will have to be worth rocking my already functional and peaceful world.
In all honestly, I feel blessed being an empath. Although others may not understand why I do what I do or my need for solitude, and that is o.k. I have never been afraid to fall outside of the norm or have others look at me with wonder or question. It may have taken four decades to find peace and to fully understand the unique being I am, but for the first time, I feel a sense of peace. And really, in the end, if we are all at peace with ourselves and the life we live, then that is all that matters.
Note: If you would like to read the article by Dr. Judith Orloff, M.D. I referenced in my blog, below is the link that will connect you. As I continue to research and learn more about empaths, I will write a follow-up piece to share any new insight and knowledge.
©Honestly by Ellen Good 2020