It took me a long time, but I completely unplug when my empathic antennae switches their frequency to…
“Wait, this person is a jerk, I see why they are a jerk, and still feel pulled to help the jerk, and completely empathize with the jerk, but need to tear myself away from trying to save them from the self-induced crisis quagmire of constant negativity that they so unhappily swim in all the damn time, and their uncanny ability to vamp the living essence out of everything and everyone in their quest to fulfill their own narrative.”
I was married to someone like this, and stayed far too long in that marriage because I was way too empathetic to their hurt and put mine on the back burner for years. So much so, that I didn’t even know who I was by the end of it. It was his life and his dreams and to the extent that he was more than willing to leave me, and most importantly a child homeless because of it. But despite that madness, I learned a lesson that I needed to learn:
You cannot love someone hell bent on having their way and forsaking all others to do so. This is a soul battle that is not meant for your Academy award winning role as their messiah.
The majority of empaths I have met, hate that they feel so deeply, and are reluctant to place the crown and sash of that title upon themselves–to have their kindness mistaken for weakness.
Cultivating peace and love is not a weak trait, yet we are convinced that being an ass is what true leaders are made of. Trying to be empathetic in the middle of an all out shit storm is harder than it looks–especially when empathetic people are internally some of the first to detect the coming of said shit storm, and wish to drop the mic and say to hell with this madness.
But they stay because they know that even if it all goes to hell, they tried with every facet of their being to help turn things around for the better.
Empaths are some of the last people who will think it’s a blessing to be one. They love hard–even in the face of unbelievable disrespect and disdain from others–because they believe in the right of all to be loved and feel love. Since they know how it feels to be unwanted, unwelcome and unloved, they will do everything in their power to make everyone feel wanted, welcomed, and loved. Sometimes to the detriment of their own health, finances, belongings and goals.
It seems absolutely ridiculous to most, but being an empath isn’t something that can be switched on and off like a faucet, and because of that, empaths open themselves up to the kinds of people who are eternal victims. And are often pulled deep into the stories of hardship–saying to themselves that even if this person has not met someone who loves them, they will be loved and protected by me.
And while a valiant thing to believe and practice, it opens the more sensitive of the two up to a wild ride of insanity.
Yeah, it has its merits, but breaking down in front of coworkers because emotion gets to be too much, is not one of them. Feeling isolated in conversation with people who you feel just don’t get you, is not one of them. Feeling single while in a relationship or marriage is not one of them. And being worse off than when you started is definitely not one of them. And a complete distancing is sometimes the only way an empath can regain their footing on such a slippery slope.
Giving is the empath’s true nature and not constantly taking–to dive head first into the water of situations where most won’t even dip a toe. You can see them risking life and limb for others, building shelter, giving away things, staying up late in long conversations, going without so others can have, standing beside and defending, and giving of themselves when it doesn’t benefit them to do so.
But when they see, usually not until years have passed, that their love is not being regarded or even fractionally reciprocated, they will begin the unknotting of themselves–retreating more and more–from the tangled mess of the relationship they once believed wholeheartedly in.
And then begins the necessary process of isolation, in order to gain strength enough to even consider why love is worth pursuing or friendships are worth investing in.
But they do return, after an undetermined length of their emotional sabbatical, and are hopefully better equipped to define their boundaries in the face of the ones among us who feel entitled to cross them all.
“I Am a Rock”, the song by Simon and Garfunkel, should be an anthem of the overloaded empath.
Lord knows, it has long been one of mine.
image credit: Pixabay