I am a firm believer that everyone deserves healing.
We have the potential to see the good in others.
I was raised to be kind to all. Both of my parents did not care whether or not their kids would be "the best" at anything, because what mattered to them was that they raised their kids to be kind.
I care very deeply about people, and often put others before myself. I am an empath. Empaths are known to put others before themselves. It is in our nature. Empaths are also prone to depression, and this is because we don't always set the boundaries we need to live a healthy life.
Setting boundaries is like pulling teeth for me. I want to do what is morally right. I care what people think, and I never want to hurt another.
This is a hard thing for me to accept.
We are all different in our own beautifully made way. We also see things differently, feel things differently.
Sometimes I try to do what is best for me, and I end up upsetting another because of it. It hurts, and I end up in this stuck point as I try to determine which way to turn, and if what I am doing is morally right.
Gut instincts will tell you what is right and what is wrong. Being empathic is a strength, but I also notice how I can silence my gut instincts to listen to the outside voices that need pleasing.
In my family, I have a toxic relationship. This relationship happens to be with my father. I repeat, everyone deserves healing. Including my father, no matter what our relationship turns into. By writing this, I do not intend to hurt, but I'm sure there will be those who will disagree with my choices, especially to put this in writing, and that is something I will just have to accept.
Last weekend I planned to visit my father along with my brother, aunt, uncle, and cousins. With boundaries, comes listening to what your body is telling you. I can feel the morals I am searching for, if I tune in to the mind-body connection already within me. I knew I could tolerate a short trip, and I decided from the beginning that I would spend one night instead of the two nights the rest of my family were spending.
This decision to take a shorter trip, and coming home for my 19th birthday, left me displeasing 2 of my grandmothers on both my mother and father's side. Leaving a fews days early meant it would not be "convenient." Someone (me) would have to drive to get my brother home 2 days later. And my father would say he did not get enough time with me. But my gut still begged my heart to listen. I am not eight years old anymore. I thought when I got to college people would stop expecting things of me when it comes to my relationship with my father. The truth is, it won't change. In any scenario, people will always give their opinion. There will always be those who do not see from your point of view, who have not experienced your exact situation, and can not feel what you are feeling. Empath or not, we need to learn to be OK with this.
In my social work classes we learn about boundaries and why they are necessary for self-care and to prevent burnout. Mental health professional or not, this is true for anyone who wants to be happy, and healthy.
We all want to be happy. Those who say they don't, maybe just don't know how to get there.
At a young age, at a fragile time, I was the caretaker in my family. Because of this, I trained my brain to forget my own wants and needs.
You cannot pour from an empty cup. So, what happens to me if I continue to give all the energy I have to others?
Healers find that giving to others, also gives them the energy they desire. There just needs to be a balance.
Sometimes relationships are so toxic that they need to go.
If we aren't ready to let them go, we can at least create boundaries.
I set my own boundaries last weekend when I gave myself a time-limit for the energy I was capable of letting go.
I even had a nice time! Though I did travel back to the same location days later to get my brother, I didn't regret a thing.
Despite those who rolled their eyes and saw me as being selfish, I had some other adults in my life tell me they were proud of me.
"I don't take this stuff lightly."
"I'm proud of you. So, I hope you are- just as, if not more proud of yourself."
What I did for myself this past weekend is an example of self care.
It is something I should do more, and unapologetically.
When I want space, it can be hard for some of my family members to be supportive. "Support" over a relationship does not have to mean encouraging another to adjust to what is toxic.
What I've been told, is that when someone in a family or relationship changes (their routine/way of thinking) , those around them do not adjust; at least not right away. They don't like it.
An example I was given, is if 2 parents decide to strengthen their household by eating dinner at the kitchen table instead of their usual, in front of the television. At first the kids will hate it, complain, and the family will probably argue. But, eventually this will not be as big of a change.
Eventually- people will adjust. Right now I am learning that I have the power to choose the life I want, by what makes me happy and eliminate, or adjust what is creating negative energy. A relationship with my father, or any family member should be healthy, and if for right now it's best for me to take more space, and less time when visiting then that decision is in my power.
A Boston social work student, using writing for healing. Sharing the peaks and valleys of an empath's mental health journey.