No More Suffering

I’ve known for a long time that I was highly sensitive. When I was a child, I would cry whenever I saw anybody else crying. I would even cry when others were fighting in front of me. I could barely handle their pain and anguish. A few years ago, I came across the terms Empath and Intuitive, and knew that these words encompassed how I’ve always experienced life.

Of course, like anybody else, I denied this scary truth about myself for a while. It was scary because I felt alone in this truth. I didn’t know anybody else who was like this. And even when others would share bits and pieces about their sensitivity, I still didn’t feel like I belonged. I didn’t want to be on this journey by myself.

The past few months have revealed quite a lot to me. I unearthed truths I had buried years ago, and had forgotten about. Not just about being a Highly Sensitive person, an Empath, or an Intuitive. This journey of discovery led me back to my spirituality, and what it means to have a relationship with the Divine. Along the way, I’ve had to let go of old habits and ways of thinking that did not serve me.

Just last night, I was driving home, feeling the exhaustion of the past few days and thinking about what sleep deprivation does to people. As I was recalling an earlier conversation with my friends about how little sleep they get, it dawned on me: whenever people I love are suffering, I want to take on that suffering, too. When my loved ones are stressed, I take that on and become stressed myself.

And right after that realization came another: I don’t have to live this way. Just because other people are suffering, doesn’t mean I should, too. It’s safe for me to feel at peace. I’m allowed to have an easy life. It’s okay for me to take care of myself despite being around people who don’t do the same for themselves.

I had to laugh. It just felt so obvious in that moment! Of course I suffer and stress so much – I absorb the emotions and energy of other people, and don’t even realize it.

In that moment, I felt free. Free to live my life on my own terms, and control how I experience the world. There’s so much to do and feel and know – and with these revelations guiding me along the way, I know for sure that I will be okay.

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Hard Truths About Self-Improvement: A Snapshot

The past several months have been incredibly transformative. Everything about me: all of my insecurities, vulnerabilities, and old ways of thinking have been exposed, examined, and explored with gentle curiosity. Thank God for the gentle part, because this postgrad program has been intense in every other way. The long hours, the demanding workload, the constant critiques, and continuous collaboration with the same people everyday has been nothing short of exhausting.

Sure, it’s definitely one of the best choices I’ve ever made, and I’ve grown so much from this experience. But I can’t help but wonder how I’ll be able to handle this dramatic shift in my perception of myself.

Specifically, the bouts of depression I’ve faced (back in December and on and off every month since) have been the worst I’ve ever experienced. And because of this discovery, I’ve been very mindful of how I treat myself and how I spend my time. I go to therapy now. I have a daily routine that involves writing, meditation, and reading. I go to yoga more often. I’ve cleaned out a shitload of stuff from my home, and cleaned out my social media accounts. I spend less time on social media, actually. I spend more time alone, contemplating my life and the next steps. I’ve become more spiritual.

And while all of this is great, it’s also been incredibly isolating. My current set of friends don’t quite get it. I’ve actually dropped a few friendships these past several months because I’ve realized that I spend so much energy trying to force things to happen instead of letting things be. Let go, and let come. That’s what the speaker at Creative Mornings Toronto had said back in March. I’ve been trying to practice that.

I didn’t expect for all of this to happen. And while I can’t quite see what the end result is, if there even is an end to this, I know that it’s happening for a good reason.

It’s about time that I take my life back – really, truly, for real this time – and live it on my own terms.