“When the Empath & Narcissist enter into a relationship together, it creates a magnetic, yet dysfunctional union because the Empath gives to the point of complete & utter exhaustion. Profoundly disoriented, the Empath is often destroyed by the relationship. This experience is painful & overwhelming but ultimately the Empath undergoes a soul awakening. The Narcissist remains the same.”


If you’re being honest with yourself right in this very moment, you read the above and inserted yourself and someone into either role within the context of that quote, right? And the hurt among us will identify with the Empath and the honest among us might acknowledge that we’ve been the Narcissist; we sympathize with those that hurt and we demonize those that are trapped by selfish behaviors and hurt others.

And if I’m willing to be really, really open with you right now, I’ve been both of those characters, in the same play, with the same person. Narcissist at first, then having lost a significant piece of everything in my world, the Empath, complete with destruction and a soul awakening. We’re never, ever the same as we were in the beginning, and for all of the talk of operating out of a place of gratitude and an ego-less driver of the heart, pain remains a constant until a scar is developed and while serving as a reminder of the experience, hurts a little less each day. Exhausted, beat up and worn down, if we’re lucky we get to wake up another day and force a smile when we’d rather not, until one day your laughter is real again, and it is a shower for your soul. Guarded, we open the doors slightly again into our deepest corners, and all it takes is one look at your bitter and angry spinster of a relative who will soon go to the next world in a furious fit of loneliness to make you realize you don’t want HER path, so we keep trying. We’re born to give, to laugh, to care deeply and to lift others up when we can, laughing when we can and just being present in those moments.

So imagine a cold & rainy day and I come barreling into my office to find an unopened package on my desk. I look on the return address, seeing the name of a coffee roaster in Kauai, the shop of an old, old friend of mine. We used to storm around Cayucos as high school kids, both transplants, he being a hilarious cool ringleader, me as the awkward and gangly one with the jacked up sense of humor. Our lives have taken paths thousands of miles apart, and now he’s married with kids, living the dream on The Islands and running what looks like an awesome enterprise. Surfing, coffee, kids and adventures….it’s a beautiful picture. And a picture is about all I have; thanks to social media, I’ve been able to catch up here and there, but we’ve not talked, and not in person, for over 15 years. We were roommates for a minute in college, and then we weren’t and as happens, you just drift away. And here, in the middle of Missouri and a lifetime away, in my hands a connection to that past.

Like a man possessed, I ripped it open to find three glorious, delicious packages of his coffee, a killer tee shirt and a short note reading “You seem to like coffee……cheers!”

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Seems rather nonchalant, except it isn’t. He had found my address, took the time, has apparently read my 3729 social media posts and essays about loving the bean, and, selflessly, gave a simple gift. I might not be able to travel the world, or retire tomorrow to the woods or rebuild that old Peterbilt and cruise the country visiting every corner I want to see, but in this moment, I felt the kind of joy I thought had long been dampened by the harshness of life as it happens. How rich does it make you feel when you realize that you DO have people who notice, care and exhibit the kind of kindness you’d like to give to them? Of course I thanked him publicly on the social media platforms, because I think goodness should be recognized, but I don’t know if he knows just how profound his kindness AND his timing was to me. Garcia, you righteous bastard you, I can’t thank you enough.

I am so grateful to have undergone the awakening of the soul that allows me to appreciate such kindness from thousands of miles away. When another chooses to remain the same, as I once did, it is easy to turn your back and pretend nothing’s changed, because for them nothing has; for this reason I am oddly glad to have started down the path of narcissistic tendencies if only to recognize them and fight them like hell before losing my way the way my Dad did. I will spend a lifetime working on keeping the train on the tracks, because even though gratitude isn’t difficult, life has a new way of flinging crap at you daily, and we gotta keep on trying. And when the path takes me to Kauai, you can find me at Java Kai, catching up with an old friend and laughing all the while.

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