I wake up in the morning with a zeal for the day, ready to take on my tasks with a positive attitude. I can feel great all day long, walk into the grocery store and walk next to a woman who just got in an argument with her husband and bam - a wave of energy rushes over me. Instantly I can feel her emotions - her anger, resentment, frustration and depression. She feels trapped, like there's no way out, she's too old to start over - but the thought of spending the rest of her days being neglected and emotionally abused feels like a slow torture.
I look at her, she sees me and averts her eyes. I want to run up to her and give her a hug and walk her through her emotions. But my fear of her reaction keeps me from doing what I know the Universe wants me to. Instead, I pick up a box of penne and put it in the cart - and concentrate for a minute on opening my heart and sending her some love before she pushes her cart down the isle. I've failed her and I know it.
I've dealt with this as long as I can remember. Most of the time as a child, if I acted in accordance with my intuition and reached out to others - I was met with hostility and rejection, sometimes even fear. So, I learned quickly that society isn't structured in a way that allows people like me to fulfill their purpose, at least not without a LOT of difficulty and courage.
For most of my childhood and teenage years I learned to cope the only way I could. If I couldn't help people with my ability, and using my gifts only hurt me, the only logical solution was to ignore it completely. So I tried really hard to numb out the emotions that ran at me like a herd of mustangs every time I walked into a classroom or a shopping mall.
By the time I reached adulthood, I had become so good at numbing out my feelings and everyone else's that I became disassociated from feeling anything at all, even my own. Put into the mix several traumatic experiences in the last decade - and you get a woman who needs a lot of healing to get back to her roots.
It took two years and a lot of spiritual work to get me where I am. Now, when I feel the wave hit, I don't ignore it. I've learned to feel it and am trying hard not to confuse other's emotions with my own (the hardest part of being empathic in my opinion). My biggest hurdle now, is that I live and work in a world where helping others unprompted is still unacceptable. Perhaps that's okay, I've learned through the years that helping people when they don't want it is usually counterproductive anyways. Instead, I find subtle ways to make their days better. I smile, I wave and ask them how their day is - I give them a chance to connect with me and be seen for who they are. Sometimes they smile back and sometimes they look at me like they want to punch me in the face - and so far I'm willing to live with that. The struggle is far from over. But every day has an exciting new lesson waiting for me and that makes it all worth it.