What does it means to be an Empath?

with my friends

What does it mean to be an empath?

A few days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about the struggles that I have in my relationships. I expect the people closest to me in my life to notice the slight shifts in my personality–Recognize when I am mad, sad, or excited, and ask me about it. Not fix it. Just ask and attempt to understand.
Being an empath means I feel other people’s emotions like I could feel a rainstorm. It is tangible and real. When the people I am when are experiencing hardship, I literally experience it too. It’s more than imagining myself in that situation; I get swept up in the wave of emotions: Excitement, Depression, Heartbreak.
I love people. I love everything that makes them human, and I love being around them, but at times, I literally crave physical space from others. I need it to feel balanced, no external forces impeding on my sense of stability. No demons pulling on my ankles. I can process other people’s emotions for them–like sucking up their pain through a straw. But it is not by choice. Their energy and tensions fill my veins without my permission or will. I feel the need to take care of them, as though I were soothing my wounds. Because there is no end to their pains and there is no beginning to mine.
Even when they lift me up, I feel my priorities shift. Celebration and pride take hold, and I lose track of everything I was trying to focus on. I drop the things that bring me joy and replace them with the things that bring them joy. In a way, I lose myself so easily, even though I know myself so well. When I spend too much time with someone, their life becomes mine.
It’s not that I am incapable of having my own emotions. On the contrary, I understand emotions so deeply because I experience them both directly and vicariously. In fact, I think I would make a great counselor because I have lived so many experiences. When I feel so depressed that I do not want to move, or so frustrated that I am immovable, I can recognize the temporary state of things and often point out the internal and external causes. I’m emotionally intelligent.
I make friends so easily. I am always reminded of how I am patient with all personalities; I never give up on people; I can make my analysis of people without judging them too harshly. All the things anyone would want to be known for. It’s beautiful and exhausting.
But because I am so calm, patient, and understanding of emotions, I have extremely high expectations for the people closest to me.
When I am frustrated, scared, sad, I withhold it. I do not want to infect the people around me or overwhelm them. Still, I expect them to be sensitive. Notice something. Ask questions with a desire to understand. I do not expect them to take on my emotions. I do not expect them to even comprehend my emotions–simply notice and approach with love and curiosity.
Two things that hurt an empath most:

  1. Being purposely hurtful – Since empaths experience emotional waves, we know that sometimes they cannot be helped. Just like no one wants to choke on water and feel like they are drowning, we have to acknowledge they are natural in life. Life is like learning to swim in the ocean. That being said, no one appreciates being dunked underwater for the sake of someone else’s joy. We suffer deeper wounds from this than anyone. Do not seek revenge for self-gratification. Do not balance your pain or stress with mine because it makes you feel less alone.
  2. Not wanting to “deal with it.” We love, and we deal with your emotions every day. When you say you cannot, will not, or do not know how to “deal with” our emotions, it directly translates to “You are not worth the time, effort, or love of dealing dealing with it.” It’s fair that you do not understand, but we feel used when you outwardly express that you are unwilling to reciprocate.