What’s it like to be an empath?
No one has ever asked me.
a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.
Whoa–that’s interesting…then what’s it like to be an INFJ / empath???
Wow, another great question I have never been asked before…
This Haiku/Meme I made and included in my previous blog post is probably only understandable if you are an empath/INFJ, so I will explain the answer to this long overdue question with an example from this weekend:
Weekends are for family time. My husband and I took our toddler to the Paseos Park on Saturday for a change of pace and to check out the cool water feature. Ah, leaving the house…here we go…
The moment we approached the water area, my emotional space was invaded by a little boy of about 9 years old. He was running with his 3 little friends, slipped on the water and hit his head HARD on the concrete right at my feet.
The sound his head made…a human being should not hit their head that hard.
The moment he fell it was like he physically jumped inside my body and I felt his fear, his confusion and his pain. My eyes went WILD, scanning the park for his mother, his father, someone who looked startled that he had fallen. No one would look at me. His three friends stared at him wide eyed as he slowly got up, in a daze and put his pudgy little hand to his head. I already knew what would happen and it was painful to watch. The little boy fought a difficult inner battle and lost to his tears; he was disappointed in himself for breaking down and crying.
About three seconds had gone by and that was way too long for me. I reached my arms out to the wet, topless, unknown 9 year old boy and said, “come here, sweetie.”
That’s right, I hugged a stranger–a wet, topless stranger. I mentioned in one of my YouTube videos that I am empathetic and will hold anyone’s hand who needs it. Well, when it comes to children, I up the ante and will hold you to my bosom.
He didn’t even fight it. He allowed me to gently pull him in, place his injured head against my chest and rub/pat combo his naked wet back while I told him: “I am so sorry that happened to you, you hit your head really hard and I’m so sorry that happened to you.”
While I did this, I continued to scan the f***ing park for his parents. No one will look at me. One of the boy’s three friends, the smallest one, finally asks: “should I get his dad?”
YES! I say way too exasperatedly to the small child, like what is wrong with you?!
That child never comes back and eventually the little boy pulls out of my hug and goes to sit down. In the middle of the water park. Alone.
I go over to a park bench. EXHAUSTED. My son, stands in between my legs resting his head on my right knee, hugging my leg, looks up at me and says “I love my mommy.”
I can see it in his eyes, my son really loves me.
I pick my boy up for a big hug and kiss and tell him his mantra; the one I tell him at least 100 times per day:
I love you, Jackson, you are my son, I am your mommy, I take care of you, you are a good boy, kind, smart, angel I love you.
My son repeats these words back to me as I whisper them into his ear, all the while I am staring at the little tear-stained 9 year old boy all by himself in the middle of the water park and wondering why why why why WHY has no one come for him?
It gets worse.
As I sit on the bench, my husband and son venture into the water area and play for about 15 minutes. I am still scanning with my wild eyes for this boy’s guardians when a very large professional bouncer type guy walks by me super close. So close, I thought he was going to talk to me, but he didn’t even look at me. Instead, he very slowly walked toward the injured boy, his son, and sat down next to him WITHOUT MAKING EYE CONTACT. You better believe I watched the whole exchange–I felt it. The huge man sat down next to the tear stained boy and did not look at him. The little boy did not speak. At all. Still, without looking, the huge man extended his fist toward the little boy, who very quickly returned the fist bump to his father.
That’s it. The huge man then got up and walked away. No conversation, no examination of injury, no eye contact, no body scan, no hug, no kiss, no I love you. The little boy had snot running down his nose and began to gather it in both hands. That got his Dad’s attention: “GO TO THE BATHROOM AND CLEAN YOURSELF UP,” his huge voice boomed from 10 feet away. Without looking back, the boy slowly walked toward the bathrooms with his head down. His injured head.
The huge man then walked super close to me AGAIN and did not look at me. He was about to walk over to the pavilion he came from when my husband, god bless him, very kindly advised: “your son took a pretty bad fall, hit his head pretty hard.”
“I saw…my younger son is tougher.”
My sweet husband then took our son’s hand and walked away.
He knew. He saw the whole thing. He was sitting 20 feet away from his son, saw his son fall, saw a strange woman hold and comfort his own son and just sat there. I wonder if my hugging the boy angered his father somehow, violated some masculine rules of their household. That would explain walking SUPER close to me twice and NOT looking at me (that’s weird!). It was ok for the huge man to speak to my husband, but he had no intention of looking at me, the one who held his wet topless son.
Therefore, his son knew. That’s why the little boy didn’t walk 20 feet over to his dad to say: I’m hurt, dad. That little boy knew his dad was aware, knew his dad was not coming and knew that he was in trouble for crying. So he just sat down in the middle of the water park. And broke my heart.
Like a lightning bolt–NEGLECT!–this is the word that I feel, see and hear the whole time. I am furious, I truly cannot tolerate child abuse or neglect.
I know, I know…it’s like some kind of cool new parenting trend to let your kids fall down and cry it out without the parents every reacting and what not. Well that’s not what I’m doing in my house. If you get hurt, I acknowledge it. If you are sad, I acknowledge it. Any feeling you have, I acknowledge it. I’m pretty sure that acknowledging reality will translate into a healthy well adjusted adult, as opposed to living in la la land where I don’t see your tears. Mommy cares.
Mommy still cares. That incident was two days ago and I still care. I am now burdened with the task of separating out which emotions were really mine and which were the little boy’s. Empath. I am now burdened with the task of making global connections between everything I have ever experienced and what happened at the park. INFJ. Exhausting.
Writing this blog has helped.