As I Do: An Epiphany for Empaths
At times, this life can make you feel like a half-deflated balloon, caught on the jagged perimeter of a fence where there was a fair about a week and a half ago. Amid all the fun and laughter someone let you slip from their hands and you just watched as you drifted up, up into the air until something tore a hole in you, and you’ve become grounded once more. Now the fair’s gone, the fun’s gone, and everyone’s moved on with their lives. No one’s thinking about you, poor broken balloon on the jagged perimeter of a fence.
If life can be broken down into simple moments of metaphor and epiphany, then the moment that taught me the most about myself came out of this personified deflation. I must have looked just like that balloon when I came to my first transformative crossroads.
I laid on my bed, a piece of wilted rubber with all the breath seemingly taken out of me. I was soggy with tears and hazy with sleeplessness because I’d just told someone I truly cared about that I couldn’t be with them anymore.
In short: I felt like a guilty, diabolical piece of shit.
The jagged edges of that fence I was stuck on stabbed into me unapologetically. I figured I was the one who should be sorry. I’d broken the heart of someone who deserved nothing but kindness. I laid there like that seemingly forever, half-listening to whatever song came on shuffle in my headphones. Nothing sounded good, but it was better than being stuck in silence with myself.
Suddenly, something made me sit upright. Something breathed a little air back into my body, and I wasn’t so deflated anymore. An epiphany!
I’d be lying if I told you I knew exactly where this epiphany came from. Maybe it was a line in the random assortment of songs on my ipod that somehow managed to seep through my seemingly impermeable sorrows. Maybe it was divine madness. Either way, the jagged edges of that fence no longer punctured my ability to think coherently. My first instinct as a writer was to grab a pen and paper and get it all down. I turned to a new page and I wrote:
I am not a bad person.
Sure, for anyone who’s ever met me, this might’ve seemed blatantly evident, but for me, as deflated as I had been, this was revolutionary. The reason I decided to tell him this in the first place was because I knew it was the best thing for me to do; it’s what Beyoncé would do. And I knew it was only fair to him.
I’d completely forgotten about myself.
Afterall, I am the one who has to live in this body, and darned if I’m going to feel like a soggy, deflated piece of shit my entire life. I am the one making my decisions. I am the one who decides if I fly or fall.
I realized you can be the nicest person in the world and still reserve the right to tell someone you’ve got to do what’s in your own best interest. You can be an absolute gentleperson and still know that you have to put yourself, your own health and well-being above others’. For some of us empaths, this is not an easy concept to understand. I have felt much more in love with myself after becoming aware of this.
If you came to this column expecting to read a step-by-step procedure on how to achieve such an epiphany, you won’t find that here, and I’m not sorry. But I think my holy-shit-why-haven’t-I-thought-of-this-before moment can help others who tend to forget to think of themselves. So, write this down:
I am not a bad person.
Read it aloud . Fold it up into a little square and keep it in your back pocket for when you need reminding. Better yet, fill up a balloon with your deserving breath, and tie the note to the string. Let it float up, up and never come down.