being in yo’ feels: the real tea on being an empath
I remember, growing up, if someone was really sad, I felt really sad. If they were pissed off, I felt my skin literally flush with their anger. I would see someone genuinely cry and I would tear up. I couldn’t help it. We’re not talking the tears that come when you want someone to feel sorry for you, and you’re not really crying.
You know the tears I’m talking about.
As a child growing up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, though, crying was ‘sucka’ shit. As a first-generation Caribbean American child, with parents who were of the ‘hard work, struggles are part of life, what are you crying for?’ generation, crying was a thing that you only did when you fell down (and you had to get back up quickly), or if there was a spanking involved. Therefore, as I grew up, I learned to carefully compartmentalize how I felt, and which emotions I chose to show, to avoid being seen as a sucker, or as unappreciative of the struggle. It almost backfired, sort of like how it did for my girl Mab, until I embraced not just the emotions in me — but the fact that I am a true empath.
Step into my world for a little bit.
I’m a hardcore Sagittarius sun and Aquarius rising. This makes me bubbly, fun loving, a wanderlust spirit with a sense of adventure, sometimes stand offish if I don’t know you, low key nerdy and into specific types of sci fi (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine me, please), a direct, to the point sweetheart with a quick temper and even quicker mouth, who also will give you her last dime if you need it, and never ask for it again. I am also a Virgo moon. This makes me organized as hell at work, a hard worker, measured, observant…and also very compartmentalized when it comes to how I process my emotions. Here’s a really quick astrology primer if you have no clue what I’m talking about.
Your sun sign is the sign that you were born under, usually the sign that, when someone asks you, that you answer with. Though it is the sign that we as human beings tend to most identify with, due to it being at the center of our personal universe when we are born, it is far from the only thing that defines who we are. In fact, when people first meet you, it is usually the energy of your rising sign, or ascendant, that they meet first. Your ascendant sign is specifically based on the date and time that you were born under. It is, astrologically, the point where the sky meets the earth on the day that you were born (which is why the date and time is so important here). There is no planet or satellite associated with your rising sign — but it is equally as important as your sun and moon signs, because it is the point where the rest of your natal chart comes together.
So. Your moon sign is what you’ll hear me call often, “the seat of your emotions”. As the moon revolves around the sun, your moon sign will behave similarly with your sun sign. Often times, we don’t even realize how our moods, our emotions, follow the path of the moon naturally. Ever notice that sometimes, you might feel more aggressive than others during the month? Perhaps the moon is moving through the sign of Aries, the sign of the powerful ram. Or maybe you feel really amorous and sexy and driven. Could be that the moon is hanging out in the sign of Leo, the lion. Got a sudden urge to organize everything around you, help you sort things out in your head as you go? Check and see if the moon is chilling in the sign of Virgo, the maiden. I love going here to see what signs the planets are hanging out in daily. It helps me better plan my day. But I’m an iPhone user. If you’re team Android (no judgment — mostly *smile*), maybe here would be a good place to start.
Looking to figure out your sun, moon, and rising signs? There are many free apps for you to see the basics. If all you want to know is the basics, here is a good place to start. It’ll break it down for you in an easy way to understand. If you actually want to learn more about you, and how to make your natal chart work for you you really should pay to have it done professionally.
Not via SnapChat. Or Instagram. But that’s a conversation for another time.
Let’s chat more about your moon sign, and why learning mine led me to understand not just emotions…but my role as a true empath.
And yes. True empath is the key here. Trust me. I’ll explain.
Your moon sign is based on where the moon was positioned when you were born, and explains the inner you, the emotional you. Simply put, it is the way that you process your emotions, and how you express that aloud. Your comfort zone, if you will. My moon sign is Virgo. The inner me is analytical, measured, and can easily compartmentalize how I’m feeling, and how much I express it. Control it, if you will, which is also another strong Virgo attribute that they tend to get a lot of flack for. Virgos have a tendency to like to control their situation — when imbalanced, they can be control freaks. It’s about security for them, though. As one of the Earth signs, they feel safer when they know exactly what’s about to happen next, when they can carefully set up their environment to suit their needs.
This is me with my emotions.
It started happening more often, the bubbling over of the emotions. I would be working with a client, and I would feel nervous. Like, real life nerves that I couldn’t understand. What did I have to be nervous about? I remember having my first anxiety attack in college when I realized I was about to fail half of my classes. That was a valid reason for an anxious episode. But here I was, freaking out about a gig that was already in the bag? Why? Then it became that I would be on the phone with a friend and suddenly feel a tightness in my throat. Or an ache in my heart. Sometimes, my daughter would come in the room, and I would be awash with sadness.
Was I losing it?
As a type A personality, and a black female chef in a still very melanin lacking, old boys club industry, I learned very early on that I had to lead with the firm, unemotional face when working. When I was home, I would put my feelings to the side so that I could ensure that my only daughter had what she needed to survive and thrive. When my friends called, in need of the things, that face of friendship is what comes forward. Virgos like to be of service — and that is definitely me.
Which is why, one day, when I was at work, in the kitchen, and someone came to my office crying about something happening at home, and I began to cry with them — they were just as surprised as I was.
As I moved further into my spiritual journey, though, I realized that I was a true empath — a highly sensitive individual who has the ability to sense what people around them are thinking and feeling. Now. You will notice that I have been prefacing the word ‘empath’ with “true” throughout this piece. You may have wondered why.
I say true empath because there is a distinct difference between having empathy for someone and being an empath.
The reality is that every human being has empathy at some point for another person. (Or, at least, they should.) If someone is going through a rough time and you feel badly for them, that is empathy. If you see someone crying and it makes you feel sad — this is also empathy. Empathy is natural and there is nothing wrong with it. It’s nothing to run away from.
It works a little different for me. In the beginning, and sometimes even now, as I continue to grow in my spiritual gifts, the running joke with me and my friends would be a group text. And the group text would say, “Alright. Which one of y’all is feeling a way about some [insert expletive here]? Because tha kid is tired and one of y’all is in your feelings”. The reason for this is because, even without being in their presence, because we were close and often times, had soul ties, I could feel their emotions — but because I hadn’t yet honed in on how best to work with this gift, I couldn’t identify who was feeling what. It was all one big guessing game.
Now? As I continue to move into this calling, this path of service, I am able to easily identify — for the most part — who’s emotions are who’s — whether they belong to me, or they belong to someone else. Am I still wowed by this gift? Yes. Every day. I text my spiritual sister often with my empath tales. We laugh about many moments. The blessing in her is that she also gently reminds me to create space for myself in this journey, which is the other, most important part about being an empath.
When you are a true empath, it is really easy to become emotionally drained and overwhelmed, if you are not a. protecting yourself and setting clear boundaries for engagement with others, and b. giving yourself space to decompress and come back to center.
In the coming weeks, I will have additional resources for my budding empaths, who may just be realizing what’s been happening to them. Not sure if this is you? Take a look here and see if this applies to you. If you are simply empathetic to those around you, feel blessed in that. There is beauty in the human experience. If you think it may be more — I hope some of the resources here help you begin your journey with grace and understanding.
I do still compartmentalize my feelings. The difference now? I do it in service to others — and in true protection and growth of myself.
Here’s to the continuation of the journey.
Xoxo, Kimi Michelle