When my kids are sad, I feel the same way. When they fall ill, I feel their pain. I will never let my girls be alone in what they go through.
I've been called all sorts of things while growing up; sensitive, understanding, over-emotional, crybaby, confidante, all the things an empath would be all too familiar with. When people share their emotions with me, I feel like I'm basking in their ray happiness or drowning in despair, soaking up little pieces of them as laughter or tears came out of them.
It was only when I became a mother that I realized just how deep one's empathy can be. My intuition would always tell me whether I could trust someone or not. And when my first child, my daughter, was born prematurely with several complications, I started spending my entire day by her side.
Watching her struggle made me feel the same struggle. When she fell ill, I felt like I was feeling the pain, too. But somehow, I wanted to fight this for her, and as she lay in my hands, I would tell her, over and over again, that we will fight this together. The answer to our prayers came 2 months later when we could finally welcome her home.
Years later, she is now a healthy and happy teenager who's an older sister to my younger daughter. Watching the three of them grow fills me with so much pride, but there are times when emotions get the best of me.
I know that there are days when my teenage daughter would tell me she's absolutely fine even if she's had a bad day. But even when she forces a smile on her face, I instantly know when something is wrong. As a mother, I would do anything to take the worries off my children's shoulders and carry it for them. I'm willing to bear the pain for my children because my empathy makes me fiercely protective of them.
Sometimes when I feel like the mother in me fails to be there for my children, the empath in me tells me to trust my gut feeling. And that's all my girls and I need.
But there are times when being an empath can leave the mother in me feeling physically and emotionally drained. Because I'm not just a mother; I'm also a wife and a daughter and a sister. Bearing the burden of the family empath lets me be the pillar of strength for all my loved ones. On one hand, I am glad to be the one who fills them with the hope and strength they need to move on. But on the other hand, there are times when I feel completely drained and empty. All the emotions that I feel are replaced by the feelings of the people around me.
I notice that sometimes my girls are willing to make space for others and always choose to be kind. Maybe they are more like their empath mother than I thought they would be. But while I know that their sensitivity will be their greatest strength, I don't want it to ever be a weakness for them.
I know they are knowingly and unknowingly watching every step of mine. And while they see me be the confidante for the entire family, I want them also to see that their mother is not someone who will ignore her own needs while helping others. I do want them to know the importance of kindness and I'll be proud beyond words if they are empathetic to the needs of others. But I also want them to know that it's important to help themselves first before they go the extra mile to help the people around them.
It has to start with me. While I have spent most of my life trying to uplift others from their most desperate moments in life, I also to focus on taking care of myself. I want my daughters to see that they can grow into strong women who may have a soft heart, but also know how to stand up for their own needs when it matters most.