Written December 29, 2016
Emily was a few weeks away from 20 years old. She left behind two younger brothers, an incredibly dedicated team of parents (her own as well as two step-parents), and a group of friends who are as crushed by her death as they are inspired by her life.
I was well aware from her mother, my friend since childhood, that Emily was spirited, creative, and brilliant. She was also described as critical, opinionated, and fierce. Her mother, being one of the most authentic women I know, did not hide Emily’s struggles with mental illness and addiction. What I did not know about Emily until today was how deeply empathic she was. And I am reminded that the weight of an unprotected heart can quickly become crushing.
Often times when we meet someone who is seemingly brash or biting we imagine them to be distasteful people. We label them in harsh and judgemental ways; “asshole,” “toxic,” “bitch,” “jerk”…What we fail to consider about their outwardly repellent attitude is what may be the ultimate purpose behind it; protection.
When one has the ability to feel everything being experienced by those around them, but has not mastered the ability to safeguard their own energetic boundaries, loving other people becomes a threat.
Today’s tribute to Emily was evidence of her tender heart; while attempts to numb her pain were hugely destructive, Emily’s drive to deeply connect with those closest to her was bigger still. It was in her ability to push through her own defenses and melt into moments of vulnerability that Emily’s willingness to love overpowered the risks she took in doing so.