I was looking at the blurbs on the dust jacket of a book I got for Christmas, and one of them mentioned that empathy is stereotypically a feminine trait. I mentioned that to my psychotherapist wife, who said it is typically, but that since “you are evolved, you have feminine traits, including that one.”
The presence of my feminine traits has been a subject of hers for the entire length of our marriage. During our wedding ceremony, her readings included this from Tao te Ching – The Nature of Polarity by Alan Watts: “But the male individual must not neglect his female component, nor the female her male…. Knowing the male but keeping the female, one becomes a universal stream…”
I struggled with my feminine side during my youth; I was relentlessly mocked for feminine traits through grade school and high school. I would note here that my previous lovers now say they never saw this aspect of me, meaning it must have been controlled/hidden by adulthood.
Until this very week, I assumed I was ridiculed because I overdressed for school, was “too bookish” for a guy, preferred the company of girls to boys and neither played sports nor followed them closely.
Now it occurs to me that my lifelong habit of empathy may have been a more important factor in my maltreatment. I wasn’t one of the gang because I never participated when students who were “other” for any reason were mercilessly mocked; sometimes I even defended them. This has been true my whole life. Since the opening of my heart chakra last year, my empathy has been amplified several-fold, but it really marked a behavioral change of degree, not kind. Increased empathy hasn’t been as hard to get used to as some of the other changes, mostly because it wasn’t new for me. I highly recommend it, particularly in these difficult times.
My acceptance and acknowledgment of my ability to understand and respond to the feelings of others has finally laid to rest my lifelong concern that I might be an narcissist. An egotist, perhaps. But not a sociopath.