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I’ve survived as well as I have because of my empathy and intuition. Early on I learned to navigate the world by following body language and following my gut.  In fact, it’s been the times I let overthinking drown out my intuition that I’ve been the most damaged, and a recurring life lesson for me is “listen to your intuition and stop talking yourself out of shit!”.  

Empaths generally deal with anxiety in some form.  We’re easily overwhelmed until we learn to block out a lot of the random energy and emotions that day around on a daily basis.  We become accustomed to feeling and seeing things before those around us, and because they’ve yet to realize their own feelings, we’re often left feeling mislead.  We’re told “it’s not like that”, “you’re overreacting”, and worse. It’s not that everyone we meet is lying to us. It simple means they’re not yet aware of their own feelings.  Nonetheless, this leads to more questioning ourselves, more anxiety, and repeating patterns we start believing we’re broken and crazy. We start ignoring our intuition. We start worrying instead of manifesting.

But something else happens when an empath learns to use their intuition early in life. We begin to rely on it, and this can be dangerous, because there are days when it’s just anxiety taking over. Blind trust without examination can lead to some dark places. We start to develop what I call “anxiety Hubris”.  We trust our empathy without question, and we start telling people we know better. We know whats really going on. You can’t hide your true feelings from us. Friends, this has ended quite a few relationships. Not only does it make the empath a bit paranoid, it also makes them look like an asshole. Believe me, I’ve been that asshole. It also doesn’t address the anxiety and real fear behind it, so it continues to build until the inevitable meltdown hits.   

The flip side of that coin is that we tend to stay in relationships way longer than we should, because our empathy can see through the toxicity to the human beneath the damage and abuse. We feel for them even as they hurt us, because we can feel their pain. We’re sure it’ll get better. They just need someone willing to give them a little more time. Then, once we’ve been through this a few times, we begin to push people away because anxiety has made this reality in everyone we meet and we mistake it for intuition.  It’s an ugly cycle, and if you can’t find a way to break it, it will break you. It’s that simple.

I’m getting better at realizing when my empathy is actually anxiety. I’ve started to take these days to get to know myself and my world without empathy, without intuition, without being plugged in.  It’s a time to replenish my resources and take a step back, a time to examine without hidden messages, and a sign from the universe around me that it’s going to be ok. I don’t need to save the world today. I don’t need to solve all the problems this minute. I’m allowed to just be and trust that life can handle itself for a little while. This existence without intuition is an important skill to hone. I can tell you right now, it’s saving my sanity and helping me live my now.  Without it I’d end up completely burnt out and completely unable to navigate the loud anxiety days. It’s definitely not easy, but I can see the change in how I process and react to my empathy and work through my anxiety.  

So these are my words of advice.

Love your empathy instead of seeing it as a burden.

Examine your intuition before you act on it.

Learn to appreciate disconnected days.

Own your anxiety so you can work past your fears.

Breathe. Keep going.  You’re doing a great job.


Go now, take a deep breath.


Let me tell you about the day my ethics and intuition were tested.

Let me start off by telling you that I have nothing against sex workers,  I believe there’s no crime in a woman doing what she wants with her body,  but at 19 years old I was ill-equipped for any of this.  After my rape I went through a lot of different theories about sex.  In many cases I either ignored it or I hunted it down with little to no grey area, and little to no standards for who or what I let have access to my body.  I went through more bad decisions in the span of a few months than I can remember, and I can only imagine what a miracle it is that I’m still alive and healthy.  What brought it all to a screeching halt was John.

I met John on the internet.  I know, you’re all shocked.  I was broke and fairly desperate.  My bills were due, and what passed for a kitchen in my small shoebox apartment was empty.  So, I answered an ad.  I had been giving it away free to anyone who seemed remotely interested, so my next logical step was to try to sell it.  My self-esteem had reached such a low that I considered it a boost that anyone would pay for parking to be with me, let alone pay for my time.  John offered me $100.

An hour later I calmly opened my door.  He looked decent enough.  He seemed nice.  I chastised myself for being terrified.  I had been known to let more than one stranger through that door a night.  What made John more of a danger?  Just suck it up, I told myself.  It’ll be over in an hour, and you can go grocery shopping.

John tried to make small talk.  I tried to answer coherently.  He undressed me like a little girl undresses a new doll, making sure he sat the clothes somewhere neatly, taking his time to look over all the new details, scrutinizing as he memorized all my parts.  I watched him like a scientist, trying to divine his next move and what he expected of me.  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath as he slowly removed the thigh highs he’d asked me to wear.  I knew damned well what came next.  There was nothing left to remove.

Then John kissed me.  For some reason I hadn’t expected it.  In some ways kissing has always seemed slightly more intimate than sex, and there had been several men in my bed whose lips I had never touched.  The closer we got to what he was there for the more my panic response kicked in, and the more I tried to hide it.  He asked if I was alright, and I nodded, afraid of losing my meal ticket.

The second he pulled my body close to his I lost it.  Huge, childlike tears flooded my eyes, falling all over my face, soaking my nakedness.  I prayed for them to stop, but they wouldn’t.  John looked as if I’d smacked him.  He sat up and pulled me close, trying to compose himself and soothe me at the same time.  He stroked my hair and told me I didn’t have to do anything.  I told him everything.  He took me grocery shopping.  John spent over $200 on me that day.  In the weeks that followed he took me to dinner and bought me things I’d needed for my apartment.  He took care of me.  We never had sex.

That Valentine’s day I took a trip to NYC to visit a friend.  On my way home John called me, but I missed the call.  As I stepped from the escalator at the train station he was there.  He held a teddy bear and a dozen roses.  I wasn’t sure how he had known I was there, but it scared me.  I thanked him cautiously and told him we’d talk.  I was tired.  I was cold.  We’d talk.  He was upset, but he acquiesced.  The next day I told him I didn’t think I could see him anymore, and all Hell broke loose.  He told me he loved me.  He told me he would kill himself, or me, or both of us.  I tried to ignore it.  He’d disappear for a day or two, then he’d come back with a story about attempting suicide.  I had people come stay with me at night to make sure I was safe, and I watched my surroundings like a Secret Service agent any time I left the house.  John’s final contact with me talked about how he could have given me anything I had ever wanted.  He was right, and had I been able to just accept that I’m sure I would have been very comfortable.  Either that or I’d be dead.

What John taught me was to trust my instinct.  If something seems like a bad idea, it probably is.  My intuition has a far better decision-making track record than my brain does.

What John, my phase of no standards, and a subsequent foray into swinging with Hubby taught me was that “Just sex” isn’t for me.  Sure, it’s fun.  If there’s a new experience to be had, I’ll probably enjoy it, and if it’s with someone exceptional I won’t turn it down, but for the most part I must have some kind of connection with the other people involved.  I’m not claiming I need to have love to have sex with someone, but we have to at least have some kind of chemistry.  Without it, sex gets empty and unfulfilling for me.  It was after my experience with John that I stopped seeking any set of arms that would have me and started seeking some that cherished me and valued me even with my clothes on.  Could John have done that?  Maybe, but there was not a mutual connection.  Something about him set off a lot of alarms, and I have since learned that my alarms do not go off easily.

Yes, John could have given me anything I desired, but he could not give me everything my heart desired.  Love.  Trust.  Passion.  In the end, that’s all we get to take with us to the next life.

“You’re too smart for that.”


I have heard these words since I was a child.  As females, my generation was taught at an early age  that any show of emotion is irrational behaviour, and that if we want to be taken seriously in any area we must only rely on intellect.  As adults we are accused of histrionics at the slightest hint of emotion and as silly idiots if we follow anything out of pure intuition.  In fact, none of us is trained how to use our intuition as a resource.  We are told instead to ignore one of our most useful navigational tools.  Why is it hard to grasp a well-rounded life in which emotions and intellect don’t need to be mutually exclusive?

I am no stranger to the terms “follow your heart” or “follow your gut“.  These, and many other “do what feels right” adages are all ways of explaining the same thing: intuition.  One of intuition’s easiest languages to learn to read is emotions.  Can you see the pretzel beginning to form here?

The problem here is that we cannot learn to feel and process our emotions while we’re suppressing them.  We make mistakes.  As children we throw tantrums, and at some point we are all emotional, hormonal adolescents, but what society overlooks is a chance in those moments to not only teach us how to cope with emotions, rather than avoiding them, but to read them in others in order to better interact with other emotional humans. Enter: Customer Service.  I have gotten quite adept in my years of teaching, working with children with special needs, and working in Customer Service to know how to identify emotions in others and mold my approach to them accordingly.  I’ve made a sort of side hobby out of observing those around me and figuring out how people communicate their emotions without even knowing it. Imagine what a world we could live in if we were all taught these skills.

With Imbolc approaching the unnecessary disconnect between emotions and intellect has played heavily in my personal meditation.  Intuition might make me more likely to take risks, but even if those dice don’t fall where I want them to I gain something from rolling them.  This is also not a blind science.  Intuition and emotions may draw my attention to a specific area, and from there I can calculate the risks and decide whether the best case scenario is worth the worst.  Being a wife, a friend, a girlfriend, a businesswoman, a lady, and an adult all at once is a juggling act.  One can’t be too cold, too distant, too expressive, too whimsical, to caring, or too trusting of one’s intuition.    Brighid, however, shows us exactly how to juggle all those things without dropping anything or sacrificing quality.

Brighid is healer, midwife, poet, warrior, and smith, among other things.  When I evoke her in rituals I often speak to one of these facets, but I have found recently that calling out to one, powerful, multifaceted Brighid has made me stronger and more focused as a practitioner and as a woman.  Why?  Because Brighid’s complexity is what makes her powerful.  While each of her elements has its unique properties, it is putting them together that makes her Brighid.  She is the light of hope to make it through the rest of the winter because she is not just a single ray of light, she is the dazzling sunlight of dawn.  She is not just a single flame, she is every flame that has sparked from her torch.  She is intellect, art, and intuition, which is what makes her unstoppable.

Looking at Brighid this way has taught me volumes about myself.  I am not either a writer or a photographer.  I am not either a wife or a woman with a career goal.  I am not driven either by my intellect or my emotions.  I am all of these things, and I am stronger and more beautiful because of it.


Go now, feel your complexity.



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