April 26, 2021

On Exhaustion & Losing Yourself: What to do When Change is Much-Needed.

I’m 53.

Maybe it’s only fair that I begin with that.

At this point in my life, is it normal to find myself in a rut so deep, so entrenched, that it feels like a major accomplishment to carry a thought all the way from the beginning to the sweet end?

I wish I was exaggerating; I’m not. Way too many to list “in progress” plans—projects and tasks have become the bane of my life. In the mix of all of this, I am fullheartedly choosing to put myself on my list of things to take care of during my day. I’m feeling tired and significantly untethered.

I have wondered: is it a midlife crisis? Hmm, maybe.

Is it yet another insidious psychological consequence of COVID-19? Perhaps.

Whether it is one, or a combination of both, or neither, I am in a place of much-needed change.

I believe that we all come into life with natural abilities. Some people, like my daughter, are natural athletes. My dad taught himself to play the guitar when he was five. I’m an empath.

What does that mean, really? Well, to me, it means that I am an extremely sensitive woman. I’m highly observant. From my earliest memories, I can remember being really aware of the feelings of people around me. This can be exhausting. As an empath, I tend to take things deeply, and I can sense and feel another person’s pain or sadness as if it was mine in the first place.

My earliest memory is one of feeling more than anything else. I was a toddler. I still visualize the burnt orange paint color on the wall in the dimly lit, narrow stairway that led to a small office that my mom and dad cleaned. What was also present was the hopelessness that my dad was feeling. As time continued and I grew, I assumed the never-ending unspoken role of trying to fix everything that was wrong in the psyches of those I loved.

Needless to say, I never really felt like a little kid. It’s strange how feeling another’s emotions so strongly can make you feel like you are walking in their shoes. Their emotions swirled with my ethereal vantage point create many of my memories.

Of course, it’s the “walking in other people’s shoes” part that really takes over. While it is not literal, it feels quite real. Being drawn to take on the ills of those who come into our paths can be a one-way ticket to exhaustion and loss of self. Where do they end and I begin?

This is where I find myself after many years of staying home and taking care of my children. I overlove them like only an empathic mama bear can. They both have needed a little extra help and following all these years of being hyper-focused on their education; they are becoming more independent. This is cause for celebration!

After the smoke clears, I realize that I am happy to shed some of the tasks—and for a short while, the thoughts of taking up long, abandoned dreams keep me occupied. And I try, but they no longer have the same pull for my soul. It’s like I find myself in some new stage of self-realization.

So it is here that I find myself sitting at my laptop. Writing. Hoping to find myself. One word at a time while I wear my own shoes.

~

 

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