Empathy, Fiction, and Real Life

I have always felt things deeply. More deeply than others. I have always been told I’m too sensitive and I take things too much to heart.

But I have also always had this uncanny ability to sense the smallest change in another’s behavior or tone. Something so small that you may think no one will notice. Or even something so small that you don’t even realize you’re doing it.

In a book I just finished reading, School for Psychics, one of the character’s, Molly, attends the school. She is an empath. I have never thought about being an empath as as asset in a psychic sense before, but as I read, I understood it. Being able to understand the slightest change in body language, tone, speech, facial expressions, etc., are fantastic things that can come in handy. In the book, Molly has to learn to build a (figurative) wall in order to keep other people’s emotions at bay.

Today, I was thinking a lot about this concept. Being an empath, I have spent years of my life trying to feel less of what another person feels… because I FEEL it with them. They cry, so do I. They’re angry, so am I! They’re happy, so am I. I feel these emotions, even if I have never experienced what they’re going through, because I can pick up on those emotions in another way.

My husband has told me before that he loves that I am an empath, but it bothers him to see other people’s emotions and tones effect me to the extent that they do.

I believe this is why I sometimes come off as mean or standoffish. Why people know automatically when meeting me that I am not a touchy person. I tend not to hug or get deeply involved. I have never been able to. When I am close to you, your feelings are my feelings too, and I can only take on so many feelings at one time.

After reading the book, I am trying to remind myself that even though I sometimes need my walls up, they need to come down more often. I need to remember that being an empath is an asset, even when it takes a toll on me. I need to use my empathic nature to be better at being a friend.

“It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.”

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Another summer comes to an end…

As this summer comes to an end, I am filled with emotions. I am not officially in a position at a school this year. For someone with anxiety issues, this has not been fun.

I started my career as a first year teacher at a school in the City. After that year was over, since I was brought in as an extra Kindergarten teacher, I was surplussed. Released into the pool of misplaced teachers. I spent the entire summer going to Professional Developments and doing anything and everything I could to keep my mind off of not having a fixed position. I had gone on a few interviews, but I didn’t find anything. Finally, at the end of the summer, I was placed by the City at a new school.

I spent the next five years of my life at that school, teaching and co-teaching. I got to know the staff, the school, the community. The students and families. I spent my years forming relationships that I truly enjoy. I often feel left out and unwanted because of my anxiety, but this school was my second home. I get frustrated or annoyed, but that’s a part of who I am. I would get frustrated and annoyed anywhere.

I have been teaching for six years. Six years, and now I’m back where I was after my first year. Misplaced. Left out. Waiting.

My anxiety is high. My head constantly spins. I don’t know what to do.

I never thought that, at this point in my career, I would have to deal with this. I don’t think a lot of myself, but I’m a damn good teacher. I’m too good of a person to have this done to me. It’s bull. I don’t deserve it.

My brain is too full to even know what else to say…

Mental Health

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Let’s have a little chat today about mental health. This seems to be on the forefront, as two major celebrities committed suicide last week. I am the farthest thing from a celebrity… just an ordinary mom, wife, stepmom, daughter, sister, in-law, friend, teacher.

However, I live my life every day with mental illness. I have major anxiety issues, and had serious depression in the past. I have lived life on medication, and off. I cannot even begin to tell you where the issues I have had with anxiety and depression began. It seems as though it has always been an enormous part of who and what I am. I try not to talk about it. Mostly, because if you don’t know what it’s like, you just honestly cannot understand it.

Mental illness is an illness. It is just as much an illness as cancer, pneumonia, diabetes, heart disease. The difference is, instead of my body cells fighting the rest of my body, my brain fights the rest of me. Every day.

There are days where I wake up and honestly think that I just cannot do it today. I cannot exist. I cannot live in a world where there is so much hate and pain and loneliness. I force myself up, force myself to get dressed, and to do whatever it is that is required that day. There are day where I wake up and I feel fine and I move throughout my day as planned. There are days where it is crushing, and I consider it a win to just get out of bed. I have been off my medication for a long time, and I have found ways to cope with the way I sometimes feel. When my depression or my anxiety show up and try to crush me. I, however, am not the norm. There are tons of people in this world that need medication to get through their everyday. THAT IS OKAY. I did, for a long time. I began to resent my need for medication and I refused to continue on it. I do have medication for my anxiety that I can take as needed, but I try as often as I can to keep from taking it. No one who takes medication for cancer or diabetes is seen as weak, or assumed that it’s used for a crutch. Why do we, as a society, treat mental illness this way?

I can remember my first BIG anxiety attack. I was in high school, I was going through a lot, and a good friend of mine and I had just had a HUGE fight. He was so angry and yelled at me and I honestly just broke down. After I was crying for a bit, I started to notice that I was having a horrible time trying to breathe. I couldn’t do it. It was like my lungs would not take in the oxygen needed to continue life. I was dizzy and sat on the floor. Thankfully, I had another friend with me. I know though, I scared her. I scared me. I had never, in my short life, had a hard time breathing. I didn’t know then that I was having an anxiety attack, but I knew I didn’t want to feel that way ever again. I have had other times in life where I have had trouble breathing, feeling like my lungs just will not allow air in… but thankfully for me, that is not usually how my anxiety manifests.

Depression is a whole other beast. I was depressed on and off in middle and high school (and even into adulthood). I’m awkward and anxious, not good at making friends. I had quite a few friends that were not the best. I would go into long, deep bouts of depression, and think about all the people who would be better off without me. I know there are people who have no concept of depression or how someone could get down that far. How someone could be in the mind-frame to commit suicide. Honestly though, for me, and for a lot of people who get to that point… you just truly believe that you are the reason for everyone else’s problems, and that they would be better off without you. Without having to check in on you, be around you, tolerate you. You honestly believe that your friends and family are just tolerating you and would not need you around. It is scary and horrible, and I remember thinking things that I would never share. When I had my daughter, I was asked constantly in the hospital how I was feeling, and they wanted to know my pain level, etc, but they were constantly checking on my mental status. Having a past history of anxiety and depression puts you at a higher risk for post-partum depression. I can honestly remember thinking how much I just don’t want these issues to be passed down to my girl. She was just born, so innocent, and I can’t imagine her having to go through these things.

Now, most often, my anxiety is shaking, mild difficulty breathing, crying, etc. I try to hide it as much as possible. I don’t like to share it. I don’t want anyone else to have to take it on. My husband does not understand it at all, but he tries to do everything he can to help. Sometimes, I take help and tell him what I need. Sometimes, I don’t even know what to say.

Anxiety can hit anywhere at any time. It can have a reason, sometimes it can be for no reason at all. Recently, my anxiety has been frequent. I’m being surplussed from my current school, that I had no intention of leaving any time soon. I just finished my dance year, and recital is always a very anxiety driven time. It’s the end of the school year, so we’ve had our closing ceremony, and there are a million things to do.

So here I am, just living as a giant ball of anxiety, nice to meet you…

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I have been debating whether or not I wanted to share this. It is extremely personal, and I don’t tend to like to share things that are this emotional and personal for me. Right now, there are two people in this world who I have gone to and gone through this with. One is obviously my husband. The other is a friend who understands.

Infertility.

What a scary, filled word. A word that people don’t like to mention, don’t talk about, because for some, they can’t talk about it.

I don’t know if I am infertile per se, but I have been having a really hard time getting pregnant. I don’t like to talk about it.

My husband and I each have a child. So, “obviously everything works.” That’s something I’ve been told. That’s fine, and I know it’s to be encouraging, but it’s really not. K is seven and S is three, so any number of things could have changed in those years between the girls and now.

Every month. Every month I find out I’m not pregnant, I try to convince myself that it’s okay, that I don’t need or want a baby. I am good. I have my girl and she is amazing and she’s enough.

Of course she is enough! But her being everything to me does not mean that I do not want another child. That I don’t want that feeling of being pregnant, carrying my child, having a newborn baby. That I don’t want a baby that is mine and my husband’s.

Each month I have a million emotions that pulse through me. Anger, fear, and sadness are just a few. Especially the months where I ‘feel’ pregnant. Then I’m not. It’s a real struggle then. Just to function. Just to pretend that things are okay. Just to show happiness to my friends that are having babies.

It is physically painful to me to hear people say that they got pregnant “by accident” or just not on purpose, or the very first time they tried. That’s nice for you, but some of us try really hard and do everything right and just can’t.

And it’s hard. It’s just hard. And we’re not getting any younger. And I just don’t know what to do anymore.

Lately…

There are a few things that go into the way I’ve been feeling lately. My general anxiety. My social awkwardness. My empathic nature.

The way I counteract my empathic ways is to close myself off as much as possible. I used to be very open and tried to be as helpful with other’s problems as possible, but over the years, I have had to learn to close myself off in order to not take too much in. I was often emotionally taxed between my problems and other’s problems that I was undertaking, and it was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. I had to learn how to not take so much in just to get through life.

I am often in social situations that I have no idea how to function in. Parties, phone calls, even talking one on one, can often send my mind into a tail-spin. I don’t know what to say, how to say it, or when to shut up. I don’t know how to respond, and sometimes will barely respond at all. I don’t know how to voice my opinion on many things and in many situations.

My anxiety can sometimes feel crippling. My brain is constantly one of those memes where they talk about anxiety and bring up something you did that was incredibly stupid in the 5th grade. I consistently second guess every thought, action, and word. I often feel as though I am fake and am not properly equipped to function as an adult.

Many times I feel like a teenager or a kid. I feel left out and abandoned, and most people probably have no idea I feel that way. I feel like I am the odd man out, and that people don’t like me. And honestly, I could give you a million reasons why I don’t blame them. I know they say you always see the worst in yourself, but seriously, I am the worst.

I know there are people in the world who care about me, I’m not crazy. My daughter, my husband, family.

Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe it’s my anxiety brain and the fact that I am untrusting (this fact was kindly pointed out to me two and a half years ago and it has eaten at me ever since). Who knows what it is. Until I figure it out though, I’ll just be over here, feeling left out…

Friendship is a funny thing…

I have never been good at having girl friends, or many friends at all. You could say that it’s better to have a few true friends than lots of friends, and I would agree. However, when you have almost no friends, that point is completely useless.

My anxiety has never allowed me to feel as though I am included. I always feel left out with any group I’m in. I’m very unnoticed as a person.

I was once told that I have trouble trusting people, which I suppose is true to some extent, but you can only be screwed over so many times before you decide that trying to trust people is just not worth the trouble.

When I was in elementary school, I felt like I had a lot of friends. I look back on it and realize I didn’t have a LOT of friends, but I had a few good friends, and a lot of people I liked, but we weren’t close. That was okay though because I had people I trusted.

Then came middle school. I know pretty much everyone hates middle school, but I could not have hated it more. I did not have a lot of people who liked me, and even those who I thought did, I didn’t feel close to. There were a few people that constantly betrayed me and treated me like dirt. I suppose that’s when I really started keeping people at a distance.

Of course, high school was next. I was friends with people, and even thought of a couple girls as my best friends, but I mostly liked my guy friends more. They were less judgmental, and just generally made me feel more comfortable. I still didn’t have anyone who I completely trusted.

After school, I was in a relationship for a long time. I trusted him, but I didn’t have any close friends that I completely trusted. The same goes for my life now.

Being told that you don’t trust people is an interesting thing. It kind of shocks you, and then makes you think about a lot of things. Were you always this way? If not, what made you stop trusting others? What is it that makes you not trust, or trust someone else? Why don’t I trust people? What is wrong with me that it is so easy for others to trust someone, but I can’t do it?

This is not always on my mind, but certain times it is. Like when I have something that is weighing on me, and I just wish I had another female to talk to. I love my fiance, and I talk to him about everything, but sometimes, you just need an outsider’s perspective. Someone you know and trust. But when you don’t have someone like that, someone you can trust about everything, it just feels lonely.

I just don’t want to be lonely.

I want to be included and have that connection.

I wish I knew how.

My life as an empath…

Unless you are a fellow empath, you cannot understand what it is like. How difficult it is to negotiate relationships in your life, any relationship (with a significant other, friend, colleague, family member). 

The phrase “it cuts like a knife,” is a constant feeling. A prick to some, feels like a knife to my heart. Just one word, means a million more than you think.  A cut that would be described as a centimeter, feels a mile wide to me. 

In being an empath, I have to keep most people and events out of my life, my viewpoint, off my brain. Otherwise, they can weigh on me like an elephant sitting on my shoulders. A simple shift in conversation, a tone, a look, all these things can hurt me more than others mean them to. 

I take every single thing to heart. I have had many people in my life tell me not to take things so personally, not to take them to heart. I have no other way to take things. 

I can remember when I was 15… 9/11 happened. I was devastated. I sat in front of the tv for hours, sobbing. It physically hurt me to watch all of those people in pain and to know everything they were going through. I had no idea at that time that there was a name for my superhuman emotions, but I know it now, and I still remember that day vividly. 

I often feel what someone is feeling whether I know them or not, whether I have personally gone through what they have gone through. I can feel their emotions coming out of them and it effects me, too. 

It is an exhausting life. A confusing one. A hurtful one. 

When you have no idea what people really mean or feel by these tiny changes in what they say or how they at them, you rarely know where you stand. It’s very difficult to navigate through life not knowing where people actually place you and where you feel as if you are.  

This is especially hard when you get dumped. By a friend, or anyone else. You are never sure of why and what happened. It just hurts so horribly. 

I suppose this is part of the reason I tend not to trust people. If I don’t let you in, you can’t hurt me when you go. And you will go, because my emotions will be too big for you. They are too big for everyone. 

They are too big for me.

Happy thoughts


Lately, I have been thinking about the future and where life will be heading. Everything I think of is a good path. 

I’m currently on summer break, which, if anyone knows me, is my absolute favorite time of the year. I do, however, enjoy the prospect of a new school year. This year, I’m in a *new* grade. I’ve taught it before, but it’s been a few years. I’m exciting about the prospect of new students to teach and new experiences to be had by all of us. I’m not ready to end my summer yet, but I am excited for things to come. 

I have an amazing daughter. Sam is my life, my love, my soul. That girl is my mini-me, and I love and hate every ounce of that. Haha. She has my sass, my attitude, and every bit of the strong emotions I have always had. We don’t do things halfway. She is also the most kind, sweet, smart, and adorable two-year-old I know. I love every bit of her with every bit of me and I cannot wait to watch her grow even more into the person she is becoming. It is bittersweet to watch your child grow up, but I am excited for her through the tears (of sadness and joy)! 

I have a wonderful- check that- amazing man in my life. He is kind, funny, intelligent, hard-working, strong, handsome, sweet… I could go on and on. He takes care of me, provides for me. He loves his daughter full force (as I do with mine) and loves mine like I could only hope for. We are engaged. We are going to get married. A baby has been a discussion. I am so deliriously happy and I owe it all to him. 

People say that life is hard. They’re not wrong… it takes work, dedication, and a want to make it great. Right now, it’s not hard. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are hard days, like anyone would have, but overall, this life is something I could definitely get used to. 💙

The Second Time Around

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The second time around is a strange thing. It is happy, exciting, and wonderful. It is also awkward and uncomfortable.

Happy, exciting, and wonderful. You move on, you fall in love. Not only that, but you are older and more experienced and you know better what you want and what you NEED. You know what went wrong the first time and how to do things better this time. You are in a better place in life and can better figure things out.

Awkward and uncomfortable. It can be, at times. People treat you differently after a divorce. They act like you have some sort of disease, like they can catch it.

Milestones in relationships that were once filled with joy and announcements from others, are much less exciting for them now. Even with those who care about you. Moving in together, getting engaged, announcing a pregnancy all now come with a veil of boredom and unconcern from others.

I was in love in my marriage. It didn’t work out. It sometimes doesn’t. We had a beautiful, special, amazing little girl as a result and I will never regret it. At some point, we got lazy, began taking each other for granted, and our lives were taking us to different places. It ended. Many people had opinions and discussions (I’m sure), but it is what it is. We get along now just as well as we did then, only now we are happy in our subsequent relationships. I believe that we are happy for each other.

I am in love. Deeply, truly, head-over-heels in love. I have been with this man for less than two years, but I feel like we have known each other for a lifetime. I have never had someone know me so well, better than I know myself. He is kind, handsome, funny, intelligent, and treats me better than I could ask for. I do everything I can to make him happy, and he does the same. We are one.

There were no celebrations when we moved in together, and will be none for our engagement. We are headed down the same marriage and baby path that we would be if this were our first marriage, but this will all be different.

Sometimes I worry about it. Sometimes it upsets me. I know, however, that whatever path we are on, we are together and we love each other, so it doesn’t matter if other people want to acknowledge it. We are in love. Our girls are happy. We are happy. So if I am excited, I will be, and no one else’s opinion will sway my happiness.

The way you see me…


I have often wondered in my life how others see me, have you? Maybe you don’t care, maybe you’re above their opinions. I would just like to know. 

He tells me that I’m beautiful everyday. Every. Day. I want to believe him, but I just don’t see it. I often joke with him that others are prettier than I am, or that he and I must be looking at two different people, but he tells me every day that I’m beautiful. 

When I had my baby girl, I had reverse body dysmorphia. I woke up every day (almost) with the thought that I looked good that day, no matter what I actually looked like, because I knew I looked good. I was more confident and much happier with my appearance, especially when compared to everyday life before and after the pregnancy. 

Every day when I look at that little girl, I tell her that she is beautiful. She IS beautiful. Strangers tell us, friends tell us, and I know because I see her. 

The problem then comes in when I’m told she looks like me. She cannot possibly look like me and be as beautiful as I know that she is. But I suppose, that this is where my issues come in. Issues that I never want this beautiful girl to have. Issues that I wish I didn’t. 

I cannot take a compliment. It has been said to me quite a few times by guys I have known in my life. They’re absolutely right. I can’t. When people compliment me, I either have nothing to say and it becomes incredibly awkward for me, I make some snarky or sarcastic comment back to them, or I just say thank you and move on. The last one though is usually reserved for people I don’t know well. 
All of my rambling comes down to this: 

I just wish I could see me the way he sees me. Even if only for a short time.