The Space in Between: An Empath’s Field Guide

From Women Writers, Women’s Books:

One of the blurbs offered for my book The Space in Between: An Empath’s Field Guide generously states that I “put words to the wordless,” which honestly, was the most gratifying praise I could have received. It also partly explains why it took me so long to write my book—nearly ten years of countless revisions, exploring how to articulate my intuitive sensory existence.

For many empathic persons the world can be confusing and isolating; particularly for those who are unaware that they receive extrasensory information from the environment and unwittingly accept what they feel as their own. Or for those who are aware that they are empathic, yet feel a disconnect due to a lack of definition and understanding of what that means within society. Most dictionaries, in fact, place the origin of “empath” in science fiction and fantasy, which hints at the difficulties people with such sensitivities and abilities face in communicating how they experience the world.

How do you validate your sensory experiences of feeling emotions, thoughts, and physical discomfort of others when even the dictionary—the authority on language—only affords you an existence in science fiction or fantasy?

The effort of giving language, and thus form, to the nebulous-yet-visceral experiences of an empath undeniably challenged me. My intention throughout my writing process was to demystify the empathic experience for anyone, empath or not, and that meant I needed a way to let the reader into my world. The irony is not lost on me that “world building” is typically a task for fantasy and science fiction writers and not one for a nonfiction writer describing the physical world we all inhabit in the here and now.

And there’s the rub; empathic or not, we don’t all inhabit the same view or perception of the world. Once I recognized that the dictionary’s definition of an empath revealed more about the collective mainstream beliefs and biases than what an empath was, beyond labeling it a paranormal ability, my book’s structure emerged, as did my sense of purpose. I would be a guide to the reader, supported by ancient Greek poet Pindar’s prompt, which has been my personal touchstone and is quoted in the early pages of my book: “Learn who you are and be such.”

Link to the rest at Women Writers, Women’s Books

3 thoughts on “The Space in Between: An Empath’s Field Guide”

  1. There’s a reason that the ESP sub-branch referred to as “empathy” in the form used by the OP is a branch of the SFF genre.

    Yes, humans can pick up … shall we say subliminal … cues from body language and facial expressions, but just because we call them “subliminal (lit. below the limits)” doesn’t make them extra-sensory (or magic). The jump to view them that way instead of figuring out exactly what you are discerning is, um, not the sort of analytical brain I communicate well with.

  2. How do you validate your sensory experiences of feeling emotions, thoughts, and physical discomfort of others when even the dictionary—the authority on language—only affords you an existence in science fiction or fantasy?

    Anyone know what it means to validate a sensory experience?
    How do we tell a validated experience from an unvalidated experience?

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