Holidays generally leave me feeling over-extended, irritable and in need of alone time. It’s not unusual. Overheard in a parking lot, on our “vacation” to Yosemite: “I just want to be at home in my slippers, my new bathrobe, curled up with a good book.” I yearned for the exact thing for most of that trip.

It’s the enforced socialization that puts me over the top. For introverts, socializing after exhaustive holiday and meal preparation is not restorative nor rewarding. Introverts recharge by doing quiet things. Alone.

Over the years, I’ve developed radical self-care practices, like: excusing myself to use the bathroom a lot, suddenly disappearing from the room for awhile. Learning to be able to present and alert to the commotion and energy all around me, but with my attention and gaze turned inward — like a monk in a busy NYC intersection — has been a huge tool I’m working with. Call it “self-care”, but more precisely these are energy management strategies, because really you only have so much each day.

I experiment with a lot of “self care” strategies, but none hold a candle to the decision to stop taking care of other people’s feelings. I had no idea how much this compromises me, opens me up to feeling icky. It was so habitual I wasn’t aware that I was doing it. I thought it was normal to feel bad when someone else did, to go down a rabbit hole of heightened emotional responses (actually, I was just taking on their feelings). In a disagreement, I’d feel so unnerved, distracted by, and ultimately responsible for another’s hurt or pain that I’d lose my center. I’d feel tortured by the interaction for days or weeks. I didn’t realize it was because I was trying to manage or take responsibility for their feelings, even from afar.

Yet other people’s feelings, no matter what they tell you (or what you tell you), are not your responsibility.

It’s tricky. Because this is what it means to be a healer: you have a killer instinct for detecting other people’s suffering and desire to make it better. This is innate in me. Trying to take it out would be like, well, not being me. If someone is in pain or misunderstanding, I’m a magnet to it. I feel it and I would do everything in my power to change it.

I’m empathic, which took this next level. When I’d make choices to avoid feeling other people’s pain (which was logical, in a way – who wants to feel others’ pain?) that would often prevent me from getting what I needed.

I didn’t want another to feel bad, and I didn’t want to feel their unresolved childhood trauma feelings (abandonment, rejection, betrayal). Which meant I’d say yes to a lot of things when my intuition screamed “NOOOOOO…”

I’ve got natal Saturn in Gemini on Cancer Sun conjunct Cancer South Node. Transiting Pluto is square my Libra Rising. The buck had to stop here.

So I initiated the painful process of conscious bikini waxing.

For a healer, not aiding a suffering soul who for various reasons you should and cannot help is like your very first bikini wax (ripping hair off your sensitive parts is very painful). That’s how it feels to walk away from a person in need for someone with a Cancer South Node.

I’ve had to end relationships. This continues to be incredibly hard for me.

But I am learning that because We Are All One, if it doesn’t feel right to me, it’s also not right for another. End of story. No feeling bad about hurting others’ feelings. No taking on their unresolved trauma (so difficult!).

I’ve stopped accepting invitations I don’t enjoy. I’ve noticed that when I felt crappy and wanted to feel better I often reached out to people who actually made me feel crappier (that was an interesting find). I’ve noticed how I can make choices to take care of others’ feelings because it’s what I think they want- not because it is what I want to do. I notice how that compelling urge to help feels, in my body, how magnetic it is for me.

Ripppppp…. (that’s the sound of a huge bikini wax strip coming off).

I’m learning that I cannot help everyone and I’m not meant to. I am a healer, so it feels like this goes against lifetimes of conditioned indoctrination that I’m supposed to help anyone in need. But you know what feels more true and right in my body? Me, first. I’m here to take care of me, and everyone else wants me to take care of me, too. That’s the way I stay aligned, centered. That’s the way I’m in highest service to All.

The Cancer Full Moon heightens our awareness of nurturing, healing, family and connection, and our perceived responsibilities, duties and obligations (Capricorn Sun). As needs of home, self and emotions collide, it’s easy to feel frayed around the emotional edges. Pull back, get quiet, go within as big energies swirl around you; the Crab has a protective shell for a reason. While there, take a peek. How are you feeling? Do you try and take care of, or take responsibility, for others’ emotions? Is there a need, in you, to help, care for or rescue — no matter the cost to your self?

You may or may not be a healer. You may simply be a caring soul who doesn’t want to see any person or thing suffer. That’s a noble thing. If you have a good, kind, heart trust me when I say, we all want you to put your own needs, first. The world doesn’t need more people who take responsibility for other people’s issues, who confuse the rabbit hole of another’s childhood conditioning, patterns or karma with their own. That’s for them to work through, and has nothing to do you.

The world needs your kind heart to be centered, clear. To know the difference between your emotional stuff and theirs, and not take theirs on.

Pattern-breaker Uranus in Aries moves direct the day after this full moon, so here’s an outrageous suggestion: It’s okay to be selfish. It may feel like a bikini wax the first, second or third time you do it, but it gets easier over time.

If you need encouragement, here’s a reminder: Compassion is not pity, self-sacrifice, or being all things to all people. It’s having a clear, truthful relationship with your authentic heart. Sometimes being more selfish is the most compassionate and loving act of all.