Ebb and Flow


Once a month I have tea with an old friend via Zoom. We grew up in the same town, went to the same schools, attended Brownies and Girl Scouts together, learned to drive together, kept in touch in college, stood up in each other’s weddings and then life happened and we separated. We lost touch with each other for years. My life changed dramatically as I figured out who I was and what I wanted. We eventually reconnected years later when we met at a volleyball game for LGBTQ folks. We discovered we had more in common than we thought. Needless to say, my heart is connected with my friend.

I got caught up in the worry and angst as we spoke. I was losing myself in the images I saw in my head with what was shared. My breathing was shallow with a growing agitation. Fear and worry are like a contagion. If I could just control what my heart feels, maybe I can keep these thoughts out. But inevitably the worries and angst scurry in through the open door.

I am empathic. I have been all my life. I still struggle accepting this fact and used to critically judge myself. According to Dr. Judith Orloff, empaths are highly sensitive people who absorb emotions of others, both good and bad. Now in my 60’s I am appreciating these traits more and this has actually helped with self-compassion. Dr. Judith Orloff’s book, The Empath’s Survival Guide, has helped me understand and accept myself as is.

Poem by Rev Alix Klingenberg April 2020

I go in and out, don’t you?

Into flow and gratitude,

and out of it again

Into grief and hopelessness,

and out of it again.

Into routine; cooking, walks, connection

And then into bed, the bath, my head, my tears.

These days call for the ability to sway

Sway into reality, sway into empathy,

and back again.

Dip toes into fear, anxiety, awareness

And rest in creativity, distraction, comfort.

We go in and out, like tides

Creating our own slow rhythms

Finding the pulse of survival.

PARTICIPANTS’ REFLECTIONS:

  • Joy to be here

  • My boundaries were violated as an empath. Al-anon helped. So did a book “The Work” by Byron Katie. I ask myself “Is the feeling true?” This freed me up. I'm a smiling happy light being today

  • Reconnecting is the word I focused on. My schedule has changed, I am still connected with friends, I don’t want to overlook others

  • Tides coming in