Unless you live in my skin, you really don’t know what its like to experience what I or any Empath experiences. Believe me, its not all bad. There are times I am awash in a sea of gratitude for all that I see and have seen, felt and do feel. Then, there are times when I wish I could remove it from my being. I’m sure we’ve all felt at times being an Empath is both a blessing and a curse.
That being said, whether a sunny or stormy horizon, there are things that I truly get sick of hearing over……and over…….and over again.
1. You’re one of those “empath” people aren’t you?
Why yes, yes I am. That in and of itself isn’t so bad, it’s what comes after that truly irks my soul. Things such as:
I don’t know about psychic. Some people consider being an Empath a preternatural ability. I find Beethoven’s ability to compose amazing music preternatural, especially considering he composed The 9th Symphony completely deaf. I don’t consider myself any different. It’s a gift that I and others possess that other people do not. Likewise, there are people that are incredible painters while I make excellent stick figures.
Unless we offer, please don’t ask us to do this. It’s rude for several reasons, and here are a few:
First, you are asking us to do a service and 95% of the time, you have no intention of compensating the person you’re asking. As I said, there are many people with innate talents and amazing skills, but you don’t expect them to work for free. You don’t realize that doing that is indeed work. Yes, we may naturally be able to “read” people, but in order to remain sane (or at the very least, reasonably functional), we have to keep a filter on almost constantly. You’re asking us to remove the filter, allow whatever energy you send regardless if it’s sunbeams or sludge, to come into us only to have to filter it all out again. That takes time and effort.
Second, it gets to a point where it’s almost dehumanizing. We’re not machines available for your use whenever you’re uncertain about yourself or a particular situation you’re involved with or trying to deal with the negativity you’re trying to process. We’re not your spiritual/psychological waste treatment centers, we’re people, just like you and need to be treated as such.
Third, and this expands on the dehumanizing factor above, no one likes to be used, and even the most well meaning people can become parasitic when it comes to Empaths. You will find that MANY Empaths are loners and have very very few close friends. This often happens because we have to keep a distance from those who seek more to latch on than reciprocate. Sometimes people aren’t always aware of the fact that they’re doing this. Some can be gently but firmly told about how this behavior effects us, others can’t. If you are one of the latter, we’ll either take you in extremely small doses or avoid you at all costs. The energy expenditure required to keep that group from latching on is too much. And by the way, that friend you always call when you’re down or when your life is falling apart? It would be nice to remember them when you’re planning an evening out or just to say hi and see how they’re doing.
2. You’re such a strong person
Again, I know this is meant to be a compliment, and we appreciate it. However, we’re human and have our limits just like everyone else. When we’ve reached our human limit or are having a difficult time, nothing is more invalidating than playing the “you’re a strong person” card. I don’t know how or why it happened, but this idea that Empaths should quietly endure not only the world’s suffering but our own as well in perfect serenity has been a bane of mine and I’m sure many others. You will seldom see an Empath express their own hurt, anger sadness etc. This is likely because they have repeatedly had those they tried to be vulnerable with either hurt them at this time or display an inexplicable dissonance that renders them unable to deal with what the Empath has no doubt nursed them through countless times. So, we either deal with our own “stuff” quietly by ourselves (which I don’t recommend, by the way) or we stick with a very select few that we know we are safe with. The trouble is, we don’t want to visit the same frustrations that I described in item one on people we care about. We don’t want to burn other people out, so if an Empath has ever unloaded and broken down in your presence, feel honored.
3. You’re here to bring healing, light, hope etc. to those who suffer.
Thanks. Way to pass the buck. Yes, we may be able to help, but the bulk of the “healing” effort needs to be done by the person who needs the healing, not the healer themselves in these cases. Go to any doctor, therapist, even spiritual adviser or life coach and they will listen to what you have to say and they will give you suggestions. If you don’t take those suggestions or do any of the work entailed, how do you expect to heal? The same applies to Empaths. We’re not miracle workers. What we offer is a perspective that many others don’t have, especially those skilled at divorcing their own emotional thinking and reactions.
I have provided an ear to many people who needed to vent. Venting is fine, I don’t mind when people vent. It’s necessary for people to get those thoughts and emotions out of their system. Understand that there is a difference between venting and dumping. Venting occurs when someone is in essence making the efforts and need to commiserate with another person about their struggles, or they’ve reached an impasse in whatever they are endeavoring to do and need guidance. Whatever the case may be, the person in question is taking action to improve the situation. However great or small the action, if they are doing something, I’ll never hesitate to lend an ear. The problem occurs when someone comes to me complaining about the same problem over and over and over again with no inclination to actually do anything about it. They have a constant ring around their ass from long stretches of time sitting on the pity pot. They throw the biggest and most elaborate pity parties and want EVERYONE to come, and the Empath is usually the guest of honor because it’s what they’re supposed to do, right?
Furthermore, I think calling Empaths the “healers” of the world marginalizes them. Maybe they’re meant to invent the next kitchen gadget or write a really useful phone app or software program. Maybe they’re mechanics or architects or business owners. Stop shoving us into categories that disallow us our intellectual exercise. We feel and we think. A balanced Empath knows when to employ intuition, emotion and logic equally.
4. Do you believe in…
Just because someone is an Empath does not necessarily mean they follow any one particular spiritual path or any spiritual path at all. Some may follow the Abrahamic religions while others may follow non Judaeo-Christian paths. Some may be atheist or agnostic. Some may be vegan, some may not. Some may drink or use certain substances recreationally and some may not. We’re individuals just like everyone else.
5. You’re cold-hearted, an ice queen, uncaring, never loved me etc. etc.
This may be relatable to some, it is certainly the most personal in my case.
I have often been accused of being uncaring, mean, icy, cruel, unloving and all sorts of other things when I refused to compromise my own integrity and well being for the sake of others. Just because I am an Empath does not mean I owe you anything except the same basic human decency and consideration I would give to a complete stranger. I’m not a mean person, truly. I can be blunt at times and when angry or stressed have to be careful of my own emotional responses. It’s something I struggle with and still endeavor to work on. I’ve improved greatly over the last 10 years or so. What I am is someone who knows their own value and sees their own worth, someone who is not codependent, someone who will not put themselves or their loved ones at risk unnecessarily.
Anyone I have ever loved, I still love and always will. I don’t think there is a person who has hurt me so gravely that they have lost my love. Though I may have said things in anger or when hurt, to know me is to know that while my anger passes and my wounds heal, my love remains. However, there are times when that love has to be felt at a distance because to do so closely would put myself and those closest to me at risk for being hurt. This is not to say I seek to shield myself or my children from all pain. That’s just not possible. That’s not to say that if my circumstances were different that I wouldn’t assess a situation differently. When making decisions as to who is in close proximity to me in my life, I take all persons involved into consideration. Myself and my children are ALWAYS first, especially my children.
Truth be told, there are people in my life that I could have and would have done a great deal more for than I had if I only had myself to worry about. Being that isn’t the case, I’ve had to make some very difficult decisions and remove people from my life that I never thought I would have to. Did I only make those choices for my children? No, certainly not. There is only so much any human being can take, and when I’ve reached my limit, that’s it. I have also stated in previous posts that I have my own demons to contend with, however I will do whatever I can to keep my damage from damaging my children. I’ve born the brunt of other’s darkness, especially during my childhood. It is my constant endeavor not to cast my shadows on others whenever possible. They have enough of their own to contend with.
What I am going to talk about here is bound to be a very unpopular opinion among many. Be that as it may, I’m still going to say it:
The concept of the “Twin Flame” as it is commonly presented, is complete bullshit.
There. I said it. Scoffers can stop reading now if you’re offended. However if you’re not completely affronted, by all means read on.
I’m sure you must be wondering where this assertion came from. After I woke up this morning with a nice big stretch, I sat up, did my few minutes of morning meditation and found I had a few minutes to spare; and what better time killer is there than to scroll through Facebook? Someone had re posted an article titled “Dealing With Your Twin Flame’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide Personas during the runner and separation stages (what’s really going on)”
I was admittedly taken aback by the title, and I clicked on the link. Here are some of the choice quotes I happened upon:
Meeting your Twin Flame is one of the most earth shattering life changing events that a person can encounter in their lifetime. Once you have tasted the depth of a Twin Flame connection and love, your appetite is basically ruined for anything else. Everyone that comes after the encounter with your Twin Flame seems like Mac Donalds junkfood, compared to four star chef prepared organic haute cuisine that makes the saliva rush to your mouth in pure anticipation…
Another part continues:
When I flew out to be with my twin in India at the end of 2015, he had strategically placed a meaningless affair between me and his heart. The night he came clean about fleeing into an affair even though he had just before he had hooked up with this other girl, pulled me closer to him, he said something interesting besides the fact that he didn’t have the deep connection with her that he felt with me. He confessed that he didn’t allow himself to love me, like he wants to love me…
I narrowed my eyes while in my mind (and I believe aloud) thought;
“Is she serious?”
I took a moment to compose myself, not wanting to fall into the mode of contempt prior to investigation, and then continued reading only to see:
There might be some slight variation in this, but generally Twin Flame connections are not colored by abuse. So don’t ever make a Twin Flame connection a reason to accept abuse, because abuse is NEVER acceptable.
And I agree wholeheartedly, but there are too many contradictions here. My head started spinning, and after reading the author’s Twin Flame’s “explanation” of his behavior:
When we are together it feels so amazing, everything is as it should be when you and I are close. But when I am alone, my mind starts taking over and I get lost in my own negative thinking and I don’t see how we can ever be together for good.
I completely lost it.
This was not the first time I had heard of Twin Flames or Twin Flame connections, I had scrolled past articles on the subject before and from what I gathered it seemed like a rehash of the Soul Mate (or as the case may be, this is a soul mate connection only deeper). Again, I didn’t want to judge based on one article, so I read more on the subject. Further research gave me no comfort whatsoever. As I read of what the hallmarks of a “twin flame” are, all I could think in my head was:
Idealization, Devaluation, Discard, Hoover… over and over again they flipped through my head like the index cards in an old Rolodex. I had to consult an expert. I quickly copied the link to the article cited above and emailed author and blogger HG Tudor to ask for his take on this. His reply:
[The article is] “Utterly wrong, dangerous and mis-leading in its content. Talk about failing not only to recognize narcissism when it is so obvious but then dressing it up in a way to make it seem okay and surmountable”
Needless to say I was unsurprised by his answer.
As I did my research, I found the hallmarks of the “Twin Flame” connection and they seem to all follow the same basic guidelines:
These hallmarks are a parallel to the “love bombing” that occurs during narcissistic idealization, the “runner and chaser” dynamic that occurs during devaluation and discard, and the sporadic “reunions” with narcissistic hoovering. Others, it seems, have made this correlation, but I feel more voices must be added to this chorus.
Yes, there is a dangerous dance that occurs between The Empath and The Narcissist. I do agree that in many ways we are the opposite sides of the same coin. What separates the two is that what The Empath does possess (compassion, empathy, kindness, a desire to help, intuitiveness etc.) are traits The Narcissist pretends to possess in order to ensnare The Empath. If you think about it, it is the great backward compliment. A narcissist will reflect your greatest qualities in order to appear to be just like you. Unfortunately, they don’t possess these qualities themselves. There is a “push/pull” dynamic that takes over while The Empath is being devalued and finally discarded only to be followed by another “golden period” when The Narcissist hoovers The Empath back.
I suggest you do your own research on being entangled with a narcissist. Once you do, I am sure you will agree that there is nothing to romanticize here. Try as you might (and many have), you will NEVER love the beast back into a prince before the rose beneath the glass wilts. The only thing you will find wilting is yourself, your dignity and in many cases your bank account. These entanglements (because that is what they are, these are NOT, I repeat NOT relationships) are rife with emotional and often times physical abuse. They may teach us a great deal about ourselves, but they are not healthy. Granted, even the healthiest of relationships have their challenges, but they are built on love (either platonic or romantic), they are for the most part honest (no one is perfect, or perfectly honest), there is reciprocity and do not cause intentional harm. Healthy relationships are built between people who are accountable for their own actions and can admit their faults. None of these things are possible with The Narcissist.
I began this blog to break from the perpetual watering down of what being an Empath is. Yes, we are gifted with our knowing and our abilities, much the way a musician, a painter or an architect are gifted. Beethoven looked at instruments and heard The 9th Symphony, DiVinci looked at a canvas and saw the Mona Lisa, William F. Lamb looked at a empty lot in Manhattan and saw The Empire State Building, Empaths look at the world and see unwavering truth, even when we wish we didn’t. We see a dark side of humanity that very few are able to stomach or accept. Still, acceptance does not mean we are predestined to tolerate being victimized in any way, and I will not keep silent while an entire community perpetuates the acceptance of the unacceptable. Propagating these ideas is flagrantly irresponsible.
Being an Empath does not mean a life of resignation to the bad behavior of others in order to “heal” them. It is neither our destiny nor our responsibility to “heal” anyone accept ourselves. We may be in a position to aid in the process, but the bulk of the work is in the hands of each individual, and we CANNOT under any circumstances “love” someone enough to change. I literally throw up in my mouth a little bit every time someone utters that nonsense. People change for one reason and one reason alone, because THEY want to.
And by the way, if you’re hoping your “love” will change someone. You don’t actually love them. This is the white lighter’s way of back dooring into controlling someone else, plain and simple. You want this person to change to suit your own purposes, because YOU want them in YOUR life and on YOUR terms. Them not changing their hurtful behavior causes you discomfort, as it should. The response to that discomfort should not be to love more or try harder in the hopes that one day they will change when they clearly don’t want to (or in many instances, as with a narcissist, cannot). You want to see a true change in someone? Love yourself. You’ll find that those who would seek to take advantage of you or harm you either don’t last very long or steers clear altogether.
Another thing; bearing the brunt of another’s volatile behavior does not help us heal. We heal when we stop allowing such behavior, validate our worthiness and celebrate our strength. It means that sometimes we have to be the bad guy and call people out on their bullshit, including ourselves whether as individuals or as a community. I don’t care if you call yourself an indigo, starchild, lightworker on a completely organic vegan diet with perfectly aligned chakras. I don’t care if you practice Reiki, witchcraft, shamanism or hell if you perform exorcisms. I don’t care what confounded conglomeration of new age terms you define yourself by. If you in any way encourage any person to remain in a this type of dynamic with another person, you are a negligent charlatan. If you are involved in this type of dynamic, I strongly urge you to seek any help you can to break free. It is difficult and painful, but most importantly it is possible.
Please, for the love of all things sacred, do not espouse yourself to the belief that because of your gift you deserve the mistreatment of another person. You can empathize with someone and keep yourself out of harms way. You can love from a distance. You can forgive past transgressions without allowing the behavior to ever effect you again. In fact, you don’t even have to forgive immediately. Sometimes, we need to be angry, not to remain that way or become bitter, but to motivate ourselves to change. Anger is a great motivator, especially when used constructively. Those “negative” emotions that they’ve tried to take from us are not meant to be wallowed in, but they are meant. Pain, whether emotional or physical is a warning that something is wrong. Anger is a natural and acceptable reaction to a violation of or a threat to our well being. We ARE entitled to dignity and respect, we ARE allowed to get pissed off, especially when pissed on, we ARE within our right to protect ourselves and those we are charged with caring for, and woe to anyone who tries to turn my battle cries into bleating.
I know how we are seen by others, or rather how they would like to see us. You hear the word “Empath” and this almost angelic image comes to mind, or perhaps the image of a martyr you once saw on a prayer card; their placid faces the picture of serenity, eyes upturned toward the heavens, crosses clutched to their chests or perhaps a sprig of flowers? Or maybe it evokes the image of a gentle maternal figure, or a Job-like old man?
Allow me to disabuse you of that delusion.
Not all of us, but many are well armed and armored. We have faced many foes before, both within and outside of ourselves, and you don’t frighten us.
Yes, we are endowed with a certain grace; elevated by the integrity, honesty and humility we possess and by the respect we have earned. You cannot, however, make saints of us. We will fall from grace when necessary, especially for the greater objective and the greater objective is always Truth. Falsehood makes us ill at ease, it is disconcerting and uncomfortable. We cannot for a great length of time play along with the game or applaud a good show. We see the wires holding the acrobats. We are very much paying attention to the man behind the curtain. We look about us and see the glossy eyed spectators in their awe, and they never understand our disdain for the irksome farce we are enduring. Yet, we endure it for a time. It is, after all, the price of admission, and we endure because we seek the back stage pass, and we always get the backstage pass.
We understand that the show has its purpose and a great many enjoy it, however, we have to know how it all works. We are more fascinated by the prospect of finding the trap doors (even if we occasionally must fall through one) than watching the actor disappear in a puff of smoke. We want to watch the gears turn, see every mechanism, every lever and pulley. We want to know its purpose, what it controls, what happens if I press “THIS” button?! Some Empaths (myself included) are insatiably curious. So, what happens when we are thwarted from our mission? That depends on the Empath.
Some are gifted with that Job-like patience, they will get to the truth but will extract it with the steady handed precision of a surgeon. Others, however, will go hacking away like a machete through jungle vines (guilty as charged). When the obstructions continue, when the impasse is reached, when the stalemate occurs, you very well may see an Empath lose their patience.
One perspective on this is described in author and blogger HG Tudor’s article The Empathic Supernova. This is a fairly accurate portrayal of this phenomenon from one perspective and for certain highly empathic persons and Empaths alike. However, for the Empath, there is more to it than the simple declaration of “enough is enough.” For Empaths like myself, those of us that are acutely aware that the truth is in there somewhere but keeps eluding us, it is a declaration of war. It is a war against deceit and duplicity, a war against fallacy and farce. It may even at times be the age old war of good against evil. Some of us employ a scortched earth policy, others a war of attrition, sometimes both. We know what we risk, and it is a calculated risk; but nothing risked, nothing gained.
Please don’t misunderstand, what I am talking about here is not petty revenge. Few if any of us are willing to devote the time or effort to that. I am talking about being in a position where it becomes necessary. There are instances where one’s own person or family may be at risk or it is one’s obligation to fight. Do not be surprised by the presence of Empaths in law enforcement, the military or other careers that may place them and/or others in harms way. You may recall, I cited the film Red Dragon in The Gloaming. The character of Will Graham is a true Empath. His gifts allow him to be a highly effective investigator, and they do not stop him from protecting himself, his loved ones or society as a whole from danger. He would be, in my opinion the quintessential Battle Empath; highly gifted, courageous, and flawed.
While I have cited fiction, these people do indeed exist. They may not call themselves “Empaths” or even acknowledge what it is that they possess. However, this does not negate what they are. The Battle Empath is a stern reminder that our gift does not always manifest in the gentlest of ways nor is it draped in the finery of the “White Lighter.” It would be nice if the only purpose we had to serve was to spread love and light, but that is an unrealistic and I daresay dangerous presumption. We must remember that our kindness must be tempered with a noble selfishness, lest our loyalty become foolishness. Our higher self cannot fully disconnect from our animal nature. To do so would risk us perpetuating the role of prey and of victimhood. We are stronger and suited to a better purpose than that.
Hannibal Lecter is, to date, my all-time favorite villain. Why, you ask? In simplest terms, he is one of the few antagonists who takes complete ownership of exactly who and what he is. There is no pretense, no masking of his true nature and no excuses. I respect that immensely. This is not to say I condone the character’s actions. By no measure would I. You do, however, have to admit that there is a genuineness there that you almost have to admire. That level of authenticity is difficult enough to find in “normal” people, never mind a psychopath; and given the character’s complete acceptance of self, I’m not sure that term truly applies. That being said, as an Empath, there were two very relateable scenes (one in The Silence of the Lambs, the other in Red Dragon) that I feel truly encapsulate the Empath’s experience.
The first is from the film Red Dragon; Special Agent Will Graham is talking with Dr. Lecter when the doctor remarks:
“You’re able to assume the emotional point-of-view of other people, even those that scare or sicken you. It’s a troubling gift, I should think.”
The second is from The Silence of the Lambs; Clarice Starling had just discovered the severed head of flutist Benjamin Raspail when Dr. Lecter asks:
“How did you feel when you saw him, Clarice?”
“Scared at first, then exhilarated.”
I don’t think there are two more accurate quotes that can describe what the true Empath’s experience actually is. This is why I also make the distinction between empathic or highly sensitive people and true Empaths. This is not to sound elitist or exclusionary, it is simply what I have come to see and to know in my own experience. We as Empaths can assume that emotional point of view, regardless of how detestable it may be. As Empaths, we cross paths with many damaged people; addicts, victims of abuse, the highly co-dependent etc., but every once and again, we encounter something altogether different. We encounter the highly disordered personality, the socio or psychopathic, those who either lack humanity altogether or only have some vaulted away modicum thereof. Those experiences likely taught us some powerful lessons which undoubtedly came with a few scars. However, we managed to survive, and not only survived but thrived as a result. While I would never wish to go back and relive those experiences, I am immensely grateful for them. What I gleaned from them is invaluable and in the end worth the scars I suffered.
I would like to tell you a story, though I do warn you it is somewhat graphic and disturbing, so continue reading at your own discretion.
It was one of the most disturbing experiences I had ever had as an Empath. I had never experienced anything like it before, and while it left me very shaken immediately afterward, it was one of the most insightful and telling. It involves a man I once knew, who by psychological definition has narcissistic personality disorder. How I came to know this person is too long a story to tell at this point, but I will say we had met many years prior. After a long absence, this person had come back into my life, and from the outset I knew that things were not quite right. The majority of our conversations had taken place via text, and with good reason on his part. I believe that he intuitively knew that the more time we spent in each other’s physical presence, the easier it would become for the mask to slip. We did engage in a dynamic that was more than congenial at a certain point, and while there were no official labels at that stage (which I was completely agreeable to), we had agreed to be mutually exclusive in the carnal sense. While I was able to maintain sexual exclusivity, he (as is the case with all narcissists) was not. What may surprise you was that I had no need to resort to stalking on social media, spying on him personally or anything of the like. Yes, I had the inclination, the gut feeling so to speak, but as we know that feeling can be rationalized (especially when dealing with a narcissist). Even the strongest, most self-assured of Empaths can have their moments of self-doubt. I did not dismiss my inclination altogether; I knew the truth would be revealed in due course so I remained patient.
Early one morning somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, I had what most would dismiss as simply a dream. Believe me when I tell you, this was no dream. I found myself lying on a bed, staring down at the top of a woman’s head, tresses of frizzy, overly processed hair veiling her face. I could smell the years of nicotine that had absorbed into the walls, the mustiness of the stain speckled carpet. Slowly it occurred to me that while I was aware of my surroundings, I was not entirely myself. I began to feel things physically that were very much out of place.
I felt the warmth and slight abrasiveness of the tongue, the occasional graze of tartar stained teeth against an appendage that I did not possess. It felt about as physically gratifying as scratching a slight itch. It was mechanical, the absolute base level of stimuli and response. The reactions came from something else. This woman was completely and utterly ashamed of herself. Behind every movement of her mouth and throat was a pitiful desperation I had never known. She was aware on a certain level that she was being used, but her own insatiable need for validation from him trounced it the moment it dared to surface. In a sense, I sympathized with her, but that was quickly dismissed by what I was beginning to feel next. That desperation and self-loathing was flooding over him, a sense of power that warmly spread through his entire being, that is until it met the void. That surge of elation and sense of power began to spiral and descend as water circles the drain before it vanished into oblivion. No matter how diligently, desperately or wantonly she performed the task, all he drew from her quickly circled and was sucked away into the void.
Then came the annoyance, for a glimmer of a moment with himself before being aimed fully at her. The annoyance smoldered a while, until he climaxed, and upon looking at her face erupted into ire, and under no circumstances could he allow the heat of that inferno to touch him. So instead it was directed to her. Yet, he was placid as stone. Imagine, if you will, veins of lava miles beneath the surface of the earth. While you may be standing right above them, you don’t see its molten glow beneath the surface. It is unknown to you until at some point it erupts.
That was how I had confirmed his infidelity. It was one of the most harrowing experience I had ever had in my entire life. To experience those two polarities concurrently was beyond anything I had ever felt, and my words pale in comparison to what it actually felt like. I awoke completely shaken, and to this day, I cannot explain how I managed to maintain a veneer of calm when I saw him next.
I have had similar experiences with other people, the intensity and effect depends upon the person I am experiencing it through. Some are very manageable, others are far more difficult. Nevertheless, this is the Empath’s experience. Other highly sensitive people, either by choice or by some reward, seem blind to these aspects of the highly disordered. We, on the other hand are afforded a vantage point that few others have. It is this point of view that allows us to strike the balance. We are granted a more complete picture because we see from the perspective of both predator and prey. There was a time I saw this as a burden, however my own perspective is much changed.