Acknowledge the Darkness to Return to the Light

I survived this. The unimaginable. I will show you. I will tell you. If I could bear it, can you bear the telling of it? It was bad. And people need to know. Someone needs to know. What happened to me. How helpless we were. What happened to us. I will tell you. ~

Refugees and immigrants are presented on the nightly news in group pictures. They are presented as a collective. But have you ever met one? Have you talked to someone who had to flee their home? Have you looked in their eyes as they looked back at you with the hope that you will understand? With the hope that you will acknowledge what they have been through because the telling is a part of the healing? And they need to heal. Telling stories of darkness help return us to the light. So given the chance, listen.

I have been told ~ We were hiding in the forest, and we had to be very quiet. My children. I had a baby. I had to give the baby opium. She had to be quiet. We were hiding. She died.

I have been told ~ My grandmother was run over by a motorcycle. A soldier on a motorcycle. She died. There was nothing we could do.

And this ~ We had to work in the rice paddies. All day. I was pregnant. I had the baby in the toilet. I was yelling and yelling for help.

And this ~ Here is a video they sent me. I want you to watch it so you see what happened. You can see my country and the dead people. I saw some soldiers put a head in a sack and play soccer with it. (As told to me by a 10 year old boy.)

This too ~ It was worse than this! (Watching “The Killing Fields” with a group of Cambodians.) It was so much worse than this. 

All of these people survived tragedy. And their telling of it is part of the survival. This is what happened to me and to mine. Can I still be okay? Will you understand? When we listen, we take a very small piece of the burden from survivor’s shoulders, and we help them begin to heal….to begin to come out of the darkness and to see the light. Seeing a human face on suffering extends our humanity, extends our compassion. I see you. You matter. Your story matters.

Practical Dreamers

It is interesting that we call something good a “dream,” but being called a “dreamer” is somewhat of a putdown.
Without dreamers, no dream would ever be given reality, and we would live in a very small and shallow world.
If you are a secret dreamer, it’s your time to announce yourself.
~ Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Head in the clouds, yes. But we may be looking for rainbows where others can’t see them. We’ve got great and vivid imaginations. Our gift is to see the storms of light and the glow of light in ourselves and in others. All the time. Empaths are born dreamers.

As sensitive children, it can be tough. We feel buffeted around by the emotions of others around us, but we don’t know that yet. Sensitive and empathic children may be climbers or runners or readers or dancers or musicians or you name it. Whatever takes you up and away from the onslaught of emotions surrounding a child in their family, with their friends, or in school. Sensitive children need a reliable outlet for escape to express the swirls inside that they are feeling. So we are great daydreamers.

And adolescents. We can be emotional junkies. Seeking intense experiences, often with a sign on our backs. We may end up in places that we never planned on going to. A lot. The highs are high and the lows are low, and we begin to learn about boundaries. We recognize that we seem to have some healing energies that others may not have. We seem secret dreamers longing for a better world.

We can become practical dreamers. As adults, empaths have seen, felt, and experienced enough to understand ruin and heartache, but also hope and healing. And we want the latter for our children, our friends, our world. We stubbornly hold on to hope. Empaths have the job and the destiny to hold hope out for others too. (We often work in the helping professions.) We know your feelings, and we will hold your hand and bear witness for you as you re-group and re-dream.

Practical dreamers with one foot in the world and one in the clouds. Yes, indeed.







I Want Something Just Like This

End of the year work party. Outside, late afternoon slips into June’s dusky twilight. We congregate in small groups in lawn chairs. Sharing and caring before we drift off into summer activities. And I am thinking of the lyrics “I want something just like this….”

I’ve spent the evening listening to stories. And in so doing, work friends have become just friends. I am amazed how it’s possible to see someone every day but still know so little about them. People gravitate towards empaths with their war stories and with their heartaches. And we listen. We listen hard. We listen open. We see the wounds that will turn into scars. I hear the story of the woman who had 3 miscarriages before her child was born. I hear the story of the woman with the alcoholic father who she rarely sees and how she nurtures her children with food from their garden, and they bake in the kitchen together. I talk with the woman whose old dog is dying, and she worries about his pain. I talk to the man who is very ill, and we both know that this will be his last work party. And all of these heartaches get released into the cool evening air as I listen and we connect. And I keep thinking, “I want something just like this….”

When people tell you their stories, they give you a gift. A very personal gift of trusting you with something personal and important. The key for an empath is to let them be them and let you be you. You will feel their feelings, but don’t own them. They are not yours to take on. You can share in the moment and forge a deep connection. Take it in, but don’t take it away. Honor the telling. Honor the told. Part of healing is telling your story. It leads to resiliency. Empaths aid healing and resiliency. What better calling is there than that? So “I want something just like this….”

I’ve been reading books of old
The legends and the myths
Achilles and his gold
Hercules and his gifts
Spiderman’s control
And Batman with his fists
And clearly I don’t see myself upon that list
But she said, where’d you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I’m not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts
Some superhero
Some fairytale bliss
Just something I can turn to
Somebody I can kiss
I want something just like this
                     ~ Coldplay, The Chainsmokers



Be Stubborn

“I know of no higher fortitude than stubbornness in the face of overwhelming odds.” ~ Louis Nizer

Stubborn. Iron-willed. Strong-willed. Difficult. My mother would hurl these words at me in my childhood. And I would think, so what? I liked being stubborn because it kept me in good stead. It was quiet defiance. It was self preservation. It helped me stay me. Determined. Persevering. Goal oriented. Eyes on the prize. And I learned young, that moving forward and overcoming obstacles takes a creative force of will and stubborn laser focus.

“You can change your mind, but you can’t change me….” ~ Jim Croce

Stubbornness is an advantage to an empath. In spades. Stubbornness helps us not to lose ourselves, especially in times of conflict. We quietly stick to our guns. We listen to what you have to say. We may disagree with you. But if you come at us with forceful aggression or self-righteousness with all of its negative energy, we will we retreat into stubbornness. We know what we know. We may stop arguing, but never take that as a sign that we are in agreement with you (if we haven’t said so).

“People think I am strong….I am not strong.There is a difference between a strong person and a stubborn person who just won’t put her sword down. I am the latter. Again and again and again. Pick the sword up, pick the sword up, pick the sword up….” ~ C. Joybell C.

The sword is our determination for the truth. Stubbornness is a useful trait for this quest. Stubbornness seeks the truth. Doggedness just won’t let go when we want to know. And empaths can’t abide liars. Don’t lie to us. We will see through your smokescreen. We will feel your emotional energies. We we will get to the heart of the matter with or without you. I can be as stubborn as the day is long.

You may not equate being stubborn with having hope, but I do. Hope never gives up. Just like stubbornness.

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.” ~ Anne Lamott

Hold on. Persevere. Be stubborn.