Engineer, single mom and…Empath: How I survived my empath spiritual awakening
Being an Empath can be a very rough ride. My own journey involved healing a huge amount of resentment at how it “happened” to me. Although I am at peace now with the fact that my life is “different” than anyone else I know, it’s been a long, painful and extremely lonely path to reach this feeling of acceptance.
Coming from a working class family, I spent my twenties in school working towards what I considered to be the key to success and happiness: a good career. After a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, I started on my PhD. But a weird turn of events lead me to abandon my PhD., move the the US and switch fields to get a Master’s degree in engineering. From people to computers…
Looking back on it, I now feel that I was being protected from a career in psychology that would have been too draining since I was an Impaired Empath. I would have ended up emotionally burned out before I had a chance to get my Empath skills under control, which would not happen for another 7 years. Constantly experiencing every patient’s feeling as my own would have been soul crushing at the time.
I had been suffering from depression since my childhood (mostly due to uncontrolled Empath skills) but I had always managed to keep under control so as to remain highly functional. In fact, most people I knew would have been surprised to hear that I was unhappy. And yet, I was a tortured soul. I was constantly run over by what everyone else was feeling but I didn’t know it at the time. I thought everyone felt that way and I figured I was just very wimpy for not being able to deal with it. I was deemed overly sensitive and told to “get over it”.
A few years into my career as an engineer, I married and became pregnant. And that’s where the flood gates opened. What had been a trickle of jumbled up Empath and intuitive information became a violent river that could not be stopped. I unexpectedly found myself completely taken over by powerful feelings that made no sense to me. Why was I suddenly filled with anger while making peanut butter and jelly toast? Why was I exhausted as soon as I stepped into a busy mall? And why oh why would I get annoying thoughts about other people’s physical ailments? I would “feel” in my own body other people’s diseases. On top of that, I had terrible nightmares about people who would inevitably invade my bedroom at night. I felt constantly exposed and drained. Needless to say, I was exhausted.
My unborn son’s own energy had propelled me beyond the wall that I had dutifully built to block all this “weird” stuff and it triggered a chaotic spiritual awakening. This was especially hard for me because I had no spiritual background whatsoever. Not only that, but I had never been interested in religion or the spiritual aspect of life, even though I attended the best catholic schools in Montreal. For me, life was primarily physical: You live, you work, you have kids, you retire, you die. Your brain dissolves, game over.
So when this spiritual baggage showed up on my door step, I resisted it with all my determination which, as my friends and family will tell you, is quite considerable. The following years were very dark for me. The dark night of the soul, it’s been called. I felt like I was getting ripped apart as I tried to juggle my new role as a mother, my career as an engineer and the weird stuff that was happening to me internally from having fully awakened but totally uncontrolled Empath and intuitive abilities.
It was tough enough to have to deal with all that was happening to me, but it was even harder to have to go through this without the support I desperately needed. Understandably, my family and friends were all very disturbed by all this. I had studied psychology long enough to know that I sounded completely delusional. Although I hold no grudge about it to all those involved, it was the most excruciating process to see everyone leave my life when I felt I needed them the most.
My friends looked at me like I was insane and severed all contact. I was mocked and ridiculed by acquaintances. My family was so uncomfortable about this that they refused to talk about it. My husband grew immensely resentful that I had “changed”. He had married an engineer and he was now stuck with some kind of weirdo Empath intuitive person who could not go to the mall or attend Christmas parties. I was asked not to disclose my situation to my extended family. But really, I was implicitly asked not to disclose anything to anyone so that everyone could pretend like nothing was happening.
I realize now that only another Empath could have understood how holding your own child can be overwhelming. The purity of his love combined with my my extreme sensitivity would leave me completely exhausted. My body was unable to handle such a constant, high level of activation. It’s like being at war all the time, even though nothing visible is attacking you. It was hard even for me to accept this and I don’t blame others for having struggled with it as well.
So I found myself completely alone. Words can’t describe how abandoned I felt in my times of need. This was many years ago when the term Empath referred only to fictional characters in fantasy role playing games and science fiction TV shows. And it didn’t occur to me until much later in life that I could have found a spiritual counselor to guide and support me through this disorienting transition.
Of course, life has a way to work itself out… Over the years, I developed techniques to manage my rogue Empath skills. That’s how the Empath Survival Program was born. I figured out how to use my intuitive skills productively, both in my work as an engineer and as an intuitive counselor. I created an online community for Empaths, so that no one ever has to go through this alone. I found counselors who were willing and able to listen to me as I worked all this out. Some family members got used to the idea that I am what I am and have been more supportive and accepting. New friends who had similar experiences came my way. And now I constantly run into people who tell me about their intuitive and Empath experiences! I finally accepted myself as I am and although I initially felt powerless and a victim to this process, I can now organize my life to feel at peace with my situation.
But to this day, it remains a balancing act between my physical life as a single mom/engineer and my spiritual life. Our modern society is completely devoid of support for those of us who get swept away by a powerful spiritual calling. Every day, I have to be ready to suddenly receive the strong messages of my spiritual self and seamlessly switch gears so I can go back to loading the dishwasher. While people are going to parties, I am going on silent retreats to give myself a break. It’s weird but it’s what works for me.
So wherever you find yourself on your spiritual journey (and if you are reading this, you probably already had your own awakening), keep in mind that it’s always a work in progress and if you find yourself lost and confused…rest assured that you are not alone.
But please do me a favor and find support, locally or on the web. Talk to a spiritual counselor. It does make a world of difference…
Elise Lebeau, Ph.D., Professional Intuitive