8.5
May 28, 2019

I Believe in Boundaries, Not Armor: an Empath’s Manifesto.

Well, I won’t beat around the bush—today kinda sucked.

We all have those days when we feel like we don’t belong. Today was like that for me.

It was the sort of day that exists in a thousand shades of uncertainty and self-doubt.

I wondered if I looked as awkward on the outside as I felt on the inside. I wondered how the heck everyone else looked so put-together and shiny—meanwhile, I feel like I’m drowning.

But we all have days like this. Especially us sensitive ones.

So sadness explodes like fireworks that give way to tears and a distinct tightness in my shoulders, a trembling in my chin. Cue the self-criticism parade to begin its epic, colorful stroll down the sidewalk, for this is where I get frustrated with myself:

Why do I have to feel this much? 

What is wrong with me? 

Why can’t I be like them? 

Yes, them—precious them—the ones who seem to mosey through life without a care. The ones who don’t feel things reverberating through every bone of their bodies. The ones who laugh loudly and craft clever jokes. The ones who are great at small talk and not getting lost in the thick, dewy web of their thoughts.

I’ve spent years trying to be that person.

Surprise—I’m not. I never will be.

And I’m so glad.

Because when I open my heart like a journal and read her ink-stained pages, this is what I know:

I am made to feel it all.

I am constructed of a raw, wild heart that is gigantic and barely fits in my body. She splatters paint in a million shades of aquamarine and citrus orange and feelings. Oh, there are so many feelings. 

I am assembled of stardust, raw split-open emotion, and unfinished, messy lines of poetry.

I am made to dive deep and be real.

I am made to taste the pain and love of the world, to know the joyous uproars of the universe.

I am made to shake with courageous vulnerability throbbing like a strange sea creature in my chest.

I am made to cry in gasping awe at sweeping violins in beautiful songs and be drawn into my imagination over and over and over again with a thread made of moonbeams and all the sh*t I turned into art.

I am not crazy. I am not too much.

I am alive.

Yes.

I am alive with every color of emotion that enters into me—it is a multifaceted, dynamic existence. And there is never a dull moment.

I love that.

I have spent enough days, weeks, and years hating all of this—and trying to be someone else. It feels good to love it now; to really embrace and honor my sensitive, tender soul. Yes, it’s time.

So I sit at my desk after a tough day at work and exhale into the rhythm of these words. As my fingers slap the keys, I go on a thousand adventures within.

I don’t even have to leave my home to have glorious travels.

There are rich worlds inside of us all—lush, floral landscapes and terrifying, dark forests. There are lively meadows, sapphire beaches, cracked deserts, and icy mountaintops where I can sit out and look at it all; where it’s quiet and the view is so breathtaking that it reverberates through me completely.

I am made to feel it all.

So I own it. I own it deeper, wider, wilder than ever before. I stamp down on the earth and exhale with resounding ferocity, and I bellow from the depths of my belly—softly, powerfully, tenderly.

And then I whisper…

Because I know who I am.

There is a tornado inside me. There are tsunamis. There are slow wading pools.

I am made of ocean salt. I am woven of tears. I am made to feel heartbreak and the glorious balm of laughter rip through my body.

I am made to feel it all.

And sometimes, this makes life a bit…tough. I can seem odd or disconnected. Or awkward. But I am connected, because well, I feel things so intensely. I feel other people’s pain throb through my body. I feel subtle passive-aggressive remarks stab right into my stomach. I feel love spill into my veins like rubies.

I hear the hidden meaning behind words, the truth behind the lies, and the dreams inside us—the ones gasping for air—that we almost let die.

I taste smeared mango-strawberry sunsets with my whole being.

I notice a lot—more than I’d like to sometimes. Crowds are hard and exhausting. Loud noises feel awful to me.

I am an empath, a sensitive soul—and so very human.

I have spent a lot of my life walking around like I don’t belong: like I’m too weird, like I have a tail and gills, while everyone else has legs. 

But I belong. I have a right to be here—to exist and to live my life with wonder.

And so do you, dear sensitive one. 

We belong. 

We were made to feel it all.

We dive into the mysterious depths that some cannot even fathom. We face our sh*t. We paint. We dance. We write. We sing. 

We harness emotion from the shaking heights and gorgeous, glittering depths within us. 

We hold space for others’ healing. 

Yes, it can be overwhelming. Destabilizing. Lonely. Tiring. But I would never choose anything else. Would you? I bet you wouldn’t. Because you are brave.  

And I know we may be told countless times to become something else—a numb, compliant creature. But we must hold true to who we are.

So no, I will never bend to the world wishing I would just “toughen up.” I am a different kind of tough, for I feel everything. And yes, I believe in boundaries, but I don’t believe in armor.

I have said it often, and I’ll keep saying it every day of my life:

I am not too sensitive.

I am not too soft.

I do not feel too much.

I do not care too deeply.

This is who I am.

And I own the watery depths of my heart completely. Every. Last. Ounce. 

Say it with me!

Roar it from the mountaintops of your heart and the great salt lakes of your soul.

I am not too sensitive.

I am not too soft.

I do not feel too much.

I do not care too deeply.

This is who I am.

And I own the depths of my big, watery heart. Every. Last. Ounce.

When we honor ourselves like this, we begin to protect and care for our sensitivity. And this is what we have thirsted for all of our lives: to really embody who we are.

You’re so beautiful, sensitive one—I feel the beat of your glorious, goddamn powerful, gentle heart.

I feel the way you’ve been told to cover up your gifts with the glossy fakeness life seems to demand.

Let’s call bullsh*t.

The world does not need us to become hardened. 

More than ever, it needs our care, our realness, our joy, our tenderness, and the gritty pearls of our honesty. It needs our ability to feel deeply. 

Yes.

Oh, I imagine sweet tears running down our cheeks and pooling into a grand river that becomes an elixir—an elixir that is messy and colorful and so healing.

We will never stop being sensitive. Thank goodness!

We will never stop diving deep, growing, rising, transforming, and basking in ecstatic goosebumps painted all over our bodies by the swelling crescendo of the fragrant spring breeze.

We will never stop telling our truths and singing our stories.

We will never stop delighting in our vivid, wide-open hearts

And letting

Life

In.

Don’t ever forget, my dear sensitive friend—

We were made to feel it all.

~

author: Sarah Harvey

Image: Author's own

Image: Pixabay

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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Kelly Reynolds Jun 13, 2019 3:21pm

Tears were streaming down my face as i read this. I only hope to embrace my empathetic nature some day, there are days where i feel so close to “Roaring from the mountaintops of my heart” but mostly i keep it to myself as much as possible except in those rare moments where it feels safe enough to share. Thank you for this, it is empowering to read and understand that this is where we all should be.

Melanie Leighton Jun 11, 2019 11:49pm

Absolutely beautifully written, and so very true. We are most certainly here to hold space for others. These are our superpowers and the world is lucky for its sensitive hearts. You are amazing. Thank you. X

LINDA GLASS Jun 5, 2019 6:25pm

Thank you so much for this! I see you, I see me, I see all the important Dear Ones in my life. The world needs us. Love love love.

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Sarah Harvey

Sarah Harvey resides in the mysterious mountains of western North Carolina. Through the journey of healing her own trauma and pain, she has found power in poetry, art, and dance. She loves supporting people to step into their power, find their voices, and flourish. She believes in resilience. She believes that sometimes, our darkest days lead to the most unexpected, breathless joy. She currently offers life coaching sessions and is pursuing her Masters in Counseling. She feels passionate about supporting sensitive souls with a grounded, creative, and gentle approach.  Follow Sarah on Facebook and her website!