The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

-Albert Camus

picture of woman running through a field

Like many of my recent posts, this one is repurposed from my weekly newsletter.

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Theme: on holding space for both suffering and joy

I’m an empath.

There was a time during elementary school where I was so distraught upon learning about a girl my age who’d been raped and murdered that I wanted to die.

I didn’t even know who she was, but as an empath, I intimately experienced her suffering, and it became too much for me to bear.

Thankfully (and due to a ton of inner work and deep exploration over nearly three decades), I’m no longer overwhelmed by my empathy.

To be clear, it’s not that I’ve “lost” my empathetic nature. Nor am I denying any part of myself.

It’s just that I can be joyful even as the world around me burns.

I can experience joy even as I hold space for another’s suffering.

Byron Katie has been a strong influence in my life, but I’m not “evolved” enough to share her belief about “loving what is.”

What’s happening in Gaza profoundly hurts my heart.

Just as what happened in Israel on October 7th and what’s happened and continues to happen to the hostages profoundly hurts my heart.

I fucking HATE antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and far too many other “isms” and phobias to list here.

AND even so, I continue to hold space for my own right to feel joyful, excited, and wildly alive.

The world isn’t a mess because humans are joyful. On the contrary, I’d argue that the world is a mess (in part) because humans aren’t.

And so, I’ve found myself exploring the dichotomy of feeling joyful (or at least not overwhelmed) even as the world burns – a dichotomy that empaths so often struggle to navigate.

I don’t have any deep wisdom to share about this with you, at least not yet.

But I do want to say that I believe it’s okay to feel both enraged by what’s happening in the world AND excited by whatever might be unfolding in your own life.

Empathy isn’t an either/or thing.

In fact, it’s a sign of emotional maturity and the ability to construct energetic boundaries (borrowed from the wise @adi_shakti_rising).

I’ll close with this: in my own life, I’ve been of far greater service to humanity when I’m able to hold space for both suffering and joy.

Case in point: the sacred circles I facilitate wouldn’t exist if I didn’t navigate this dichotomy the way I do.

That is all.

I love you.