Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Dark Side Of Empathy

Do you ever wonder, in a world where we can not only feel what we feel deeply, but we can also feel what others feel so deeply, why we feel so alone and so desolate, so powerless in our unanchored state with little self esteem?

Have you ever been to a therapist, hoping they will understand you, and in place of this hope, you find a reality much different? Instead of compassion and empathy, the things you give when you help to heal others, you feel as though you've come up against a brick wall? You speak, and you wonder to what purpose other than to hear yourself complain? And inside you, you feel set apart from the person before you, who you are paying to listen to you. And at the same time, you feel guilty for feeling as though you were selfish enough to need someone to talk to, when you should be focusing on others instead.

Have you ever had a friend that you felt a deep kinship with, such a connection that you seemed almost to latch on to them and emulate them? And have you found them turning this back on you, calling you clingy and needy? And then perhaps pushing you away? Are people transient in your life, things that come and go as their needs arise, but never yours?

Do you feel called......pulled........compelled.....to help every random person you come in contact with, if you feel their sadness for the dual reason of easing their burden, and yours as well? Even without speaking to them, you find yourself walking a mile in their shoes? Is this you?

Are you a passionate, sensual person, who is also, by your very nature, afraid of intimacy? Are you afraid of the depth to which love can make you spiral, how lost you can become in the other person, resulting in not knowing where you end and they begin? And what about the physical pleasures of sex......are you hesitant to experience them to their fullest, because you know you will not only feel your own pleasure, but theirs as well? Is it to overwhelming?

Are you non-existent in a room, save for the facade you put on for the crowd, allowing yourself to be carried along by the emotions of others. If others drink, so do you. If others laugh, so do you. If others are sharing intimate details, you listen. But inside, there is nothing but a dulling numbness of your own emotions being overcome by others?

Its like you are all smiles and giggles in front of the crowd, and you honestly believe in the sincerity of those feelings. But once you are away from everyone, perhaps in the bathroom for a breather, the smile disappears and you are just there in the moment, without feeling or thought, other than the dread of returning to that room full of people and emotions.

Do you have better relationships with animals, whose emotions are singular and straightforward? And how about living vicariously through books and movies, or even music? Do you find yourself coming back to it again and again, because it is feeling without pain or weight.......the weight of others expectations placed upon your shoulders?

When was the last time you spent more than 30 seconds looking in a mirror, without someone else by your side, really looking and feeling comfortable with the person looking back at you? When was the last time you contemplated yourself and your problems for more than an hour at a time, without being so lost in misery and morose thought that you had a niggling to do harm to yourself for your own lack of worth?

How many, even after knowing what you are, lose faith in it after the initial exhilaration of it wears off? How many of you lack the faith in yourself to become functioning Empaths full of balance and self respect?

How many have been used, manipulated, and abused....because of this lack of self esteem? Or the need to simply belong and not be alone, which stayed your tongue from saying the words 'no'? And how much filth have you been dragged into because of your refusal see your own worth? If you were abused, how many went with their abusers because it fed into their already sad beliefs about themselves and their own worth?

And how many believe it is wrong to be selfish, to believe that we deserve better than what we are given as our due?

How many reach out to the masses, but take nothing in return, even worth for their selfless acts? How many are so focused outwardly that they do not take the time to heal themselves and end up trying to end their lives? How many times have you tried? How many believe that pride is a selfish sin? How many would hand their last crumb of bread to a well fed person, even on their own deathbed, without a thought to their own survival or alternative ideas of perhaps sharing that last crumb?

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Being an Empath is a great thing, particularly when you first realize you have a name and a place to belong. You realize you aren't alone in what you can do. You realize that your gifts have purpose, which seemingly gives your life purpose. But there is a dark side to this gift and its all to real.

In all of the descriptions I've read, which tell what an Empath is and what they do, there are few downsides mentioned. It states only that they will think about others before themselves, putting others needs above their own. But there is more to this than that.

We are the kings and queens of avoidance. We focus on others, so as not to focus on ourselves, our flaws, our loneliness, our lack of self esteem, and our problems. We give, until it hurts to give, so as not to focus on what is going on inside of us. We let it stew there, festering to a boiling point, until depression (our own, and not another person's) strikes us so hard that we seek out release through drugs, alcohol, debauchery, or death.

We are afraid, not of others, because this is the safest place to be in, but of ourselves. We, quite literally, are our own worst enemies, despite who we let abuse us or use us.

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The bright side of this is that we are the meek. We are angels of light bound in our own dark chains. We are the lost, as much as the redeemer (no religious connotations here). We heal others, while we cast ourselves into the pit. Martyrs all, in our darkness.

And yet imagine what a Martyr could be with awareness? Imagine the light, the power, the balance and the beauty that a truly healthy and aware Empath could bring, not just to those around them, but to the whole of the world?

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I've said some harsh things here. And for that, I make no apology. This is the reality, whether in part or as a whole, we all face here. So do not delude yourselves by thinking otherwise. Do not lie to yourselves. The truth must be found in your own healing, before you can truly heal a world in need. And it must be done through the facing of your own fears and flaws. Anything else is simply patching up a leaky roof, which will eventually have to be replaced completely. It puts off the inevitable. I say this with love. I say all of this with respect to each and every one of your problems, and to you.

1 comment:

  1. OMG, while reading through this, I keep hearing myself say, "Yes!", "Yes!", "Yes!". Reading through sections I can barely stand to continue as your descriptions are "too close to home" in so many ways.

    As you shared, when I "awoke" to what I am, it was as if I finally had solid ground under my feet. It was exhilarating! But then the struggle of what to do with this "gift" and the why's spun me deeply into the dreaded dark night.

    Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the work you've put into this site. It is by far, the most helpful I have come across during this time of transition.

    Thanks for sharing so openly,
    Don

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