Evaporation (Dissociation as it relates to C-PTSD)

Some call it detachment, dissociation or disconnection; I call it evaporating.

It wasn’t until I started researching C-PTSD that I understood the phenomenon of dissociation. Having been physically abused in childhood, I don’t remember dissociating when the abuse was happening. In fact, I remember many of the beatings rather vividly. As I got older, I confronted aggression with aggression instead of passively enduring it, which I suppose is it’s own form of dissociation. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that a form of dissociation was occurring under very different circumstances. However, before I describe it, please indulge me for a moment while I provide some context:

I discovered my enjoyment of writing as an adolescent. I had to make up a short story in the sixth grade, and my teacher was very impressed with it. Once in high school, I had several composition books full of angsty teenage poetry. As I matured, so did my writing. I brought some of my poetry to open mic venues in my early twenties and was a contributing member of a poetry and erotic fiction website where much of my work was well received. Writing gave a voice to a part of me that didn’t have one. I found that when I wrote, I had the time to organize my often cyclonic thoughts and present them in a linear and authentic fashion. What’s more is that when people are truly interested in something, they will read about it, and they will pay attention. That’s not always the case when one speaks.

I had abandoned my writing for more than a decade. I would jot down a quick poem here and there, but most of my writing was dedicated to either my college course work or my early recovery work. I had vacillated from the prose and poems that gave life to a very real and very vulnerable aspect of myself. After my divorce and a few nightmarish years that followed, a dear friend told me about a very small and very gentle room where he played guitar and I could most definitely read poetry or short stories. That room saved my life.

Now, with that in mind, imagine this scenario:

Two women, mother and daughter, are sitting in a bedroom and they’re having a conversation. The mother observes that the daughter doesn’t seem quite herself and asks if everything is alright. The daughter takes a breath, tries to gather her thoughts and begins talking about her feelings of isolation and loneliness. She utters maybe a sentence or two, and the mother proceeds to hijack the conversation, talking about how lonely and isolated she is and goes on for over an hour. Imagine that this happens every single time the daughter tries to open up about her feelings.

That very situation (and several others like it with different people) have happened to me many times. Speaking about my deepest and most difficult feelings is a very vulnerable spot for me, and I’m still navigating vulnerability. So, when I’m about to open up, or just begin to and someone derails me, something very strange happens.

Have you ever wiped a surface with a damp cloth and saw how the moisture left behind in short time just vanishes? That is exactly what happens and what it feels like during that period of dissociation. I can feel a part of myself literally wiped over and that authentic, vulnerable self evaporates into thin air. I am alert during the conversation; I am responsive, engaged, my feedback is meaningful and pertinent, however, I’m not completely “there.” Part of me has evaporated. I feel as insubstantial as a veil of mist or a wisp of smoke.

In those vulnerable moments, my truest self, my most vulnerable self was negated, and I can actually remember at times thinking to myself “I may as well be invisible” and in a sense that is exactly what I did. I learned to become invisible.

In some ways, it’s not a bad trait to have, I had even learned to do it at will even when not “triggered,” so to speak. I could at one point be an active participant in a conversation and in a second slip away undetected. I could be among a group of chattering people and fade into the background and quietly observe. In those instances I came to enjoy the ability.

The problem is that, like most trauma responses, it becomes maladaptive. There are times when I do need to be heard, especially when trying to express difficult, painful emotions or experiences. C-PTSD gave me hypervigilance and a heightened sense of awareness, so I know when someone really isn’t paying attention. There’s an almost tangible connection I can feel when someone is truly engaged, and once that connection is broken, the evaporation happens. When it does, whatever it was that I was trying to express evaporates with it, and I have yet to master the ability of bringing myself back to that place where I can again be vulnerable.

Understand, this is not a common response to a normal and unintended interruption or distraction such as a waitress coming to the table asking if we need anything or an urgent message/phone call where I know irrefutably that the other person truly is engaged, it’s just that this temporary circumstance necessitates distraction.

No, what I’m talking about is when someone engages and then later intentionally cuts the connection, as would be the case with someone extremely self – centered or narcissistic. It’s probably one of the reasons that stronger empaths in due time will out a narcissist. We don’t just identify behaviors, we can actually “feel” the effect of their covert behavior at a visceral level.

This handy yet horrid trait has also given me the ability to separate the terminally narcissistic from the often times self – unaware, maybe just a little selfish human who just doesn’t realize what they’re doing. The litmus test comes when I mention to them how that experience felt for me. Someone high on the narcissistic spectrum will likely not respond well, and someone with an all out personality disorder will usually display the tell tale signs of narcissistic injury.

The other benefit of this ability is that it has made me an exceptional listener; an empathetic listener. I know what it’s like to try to express the deepest, darkest, most vulnerable parts of myself and be shut down or negated. Therefore, I wouldn’t intentionally do it to another person, much less someone I love. I know too well why a molting animal hides while it sheds its skin. Human vulnerability is the most unique and most fragile. We are the only species on this planet that walks with it’s most ill protected parts forward; and whoever’s design we are, I believe they knew exactly what they were doing when they created us this way.

Until next time……….

The Infinity Mirror

The term “infinity mirror” refers to an optical illusion where two parallel or nearly parallel mirrors repeatedly create smaller and smaller reflections that seem to recede into infinity. I use this term for something altogether different.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. Psychology refers to this as “repetition compulsion;” a phenomenon where people tend to recreate events or circumstances over and over again, especially those that may have been distressing. Interestingly, the word “compulsion” is defined as:

“an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one’s conscious wishes.”

So, what happens when this is not merely a maladaptive coping behavior?

It has been theorized that people do this because there is comfort in the familiar. Perhaps it is done to somehow change the outcome of the original circumstance we try to repeat. Perhaps we didn’t have a good relationship with a parent, so we seek out significant others who remind us of our parents and try to settle the score that way.

For those who have endured years of trauma and abuse, this propensity to in essence retraumatize is not easy to arrest and reverse. For those who have spent their formative years in a constant (or near constant) state of hyperarousal and hypervigilance, this compulsion is not just about coping (for example compulsively using alcohol or gambling, although that can be part of equation), but rather it rewires the functioning of the brain. This repetition is not born of maladaptiveness, it’s the baseline and normal level at which the person functions.

To put it another way, you may recall the quote made by Bane in the film The Dark Knight Rises:

Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it.

The Dark Knight Rises

The same is true for those who began developing Cptsd early in childhood. The chain of events for me was not normalcy then trauma then maladaptivity. There was only ever trauma. Survival mode was the only mode, and it is not some psychological theory. It creates a measurable, tangible effect on the development of the mind. In my experience, repetition compulsion pervaded every aspect of my life; be it friendships, intimate relationships, employers, the list goes on. I recently had a conversation with a friend where we spoke about a propensity to “step in bear traps.” When dealing with repetition compulsion, I not only stepped in the traps, I couldn’t function in a world where there wasn’t a 95% chance that I would step in one. A world without bear traps was beyond conception, and in some ways still is.

In my previous post “Beating Retreat” I had mentioned that abandonment is a key factor in Cptsd. I had (or so I thought) confronted my abandonment issues when I began my recovery from alcoholism nearly twelve years ago, not to mention the work I had done in therapy in my late teens – early twenties. As it turns out, I hadn’t addressed it, I had only transmuted it. As a child/adolescent, I dealt with fear of abandonment through isolation and intimacy avoidance. I spent much of my childhood alone in my room, and when in the company of my peers, I would assimilate as to avoid anyone ever really getting to know me. If I didn’t get close to anyone, I wouldn’t be abandoned. Simple, right? It would appear so, if it weren’t for the fact that preparing for impending abandonment is literally written into the coding of my brain. Instead my pendulum swung in the complete opposite direction. When the inevitability of abandonment arrives, I roll out the red carpet, give it the presidential suite, leave a little mint on the pillow after turning down the bed and make it a full breakfast in the morning. All of this to challenge it to a boxing match the following night. Why? Because if I can’t control it by avoiding it, I could try to battle it; and I do it like a gamer running back into the same boss fight in the hopes that the rare item drops (that rare item being acceptance in any of its forms).

Of course, it never does.

And fueled by nerd rage, I’d replay the battle over and over and over again, and though I never truly win, at least it proves that I can take the beating.

It didn’t matter how many tutorials told me it was futile. I could have a chorus of voices screaming at me that the item I was looking for would not be dropped by this boss, hell it wasn’t even an item in the game I was playing. Somehow, my faulty wired brain couldn’t conceive of that notion; and how many hours did I invest trying? Well, to date I have racked up 350,400 played hours. You do the math.

Yes, sometimes we have to be warriors, but even the bravest of warriors enjoy peace time. The battle is the exception, not the norm. My challenge is that while all around me there may be peace, my brain doesn’t allow me to experience that as “normalcy.” The absence of it is foreign and uncomfortable. I have to retrain myself on a biochemical level to understand and accept that a relative calm is the real baseline.

The silver lining here;

the infinity mirror shows that while the image repeats, it also becomes smaller. The goal is not to see myself at the first image, but much further inward, to notice that over the years that repeating image in many ways has shrunken and give myself some credit for that. All the work I have done until now has not been in vain.

Until next time……..

Beating Retreat

“Battle Weary” Gary Ferguson – TK Productions 2015

As the days of COVID spring come to a close, amidst civil unrest and great uncertainty, the time has come for beating retreat.

Battles of late have re aggravated old injuries, and a time of recovery and reflection are at hand.

As I had gone deeper into shadow work, I had come across a name for my pain; the poison in Chiron’s wound:

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

While shedding a great deal of light on what I have been dealing with of late, the recovery process feels about as comfortable as unanesthetically removing a grapefruit sized tumor from the core of my being with a spork. Fortunately, I have a great deal of support.

Many have asked if they can be helpful and how, which I also appreciate. The difficulty here will be telling some of those who are well meaning to stay away.

If you’re unfamiliar with Cptsd, feel free to do your own research. For the purpose of this post I will tell you that trauma and abandonment are at its core. While I appreciate the well wishers and the offers for assistance, the criteria has become much more narrow in scope. Anything that draws me back into situations that remind me of that which I am trying to recover from are anathema to my needs presently. Not everyone can offer me the stability, consistency, and/or reasonable level of certainty I currently require. I don’t blame them, nor do I feel they have wronged me or let me down. Sometimes, things are as they are. Nonetheless, I need what I need and I have very little room to negotiate at this time.

The process will no doubt be a long one, not to mention daunting. I am, however, optimistic. I have a sneaking suspicion that as I progress on this path there will be a great deal of revelation and healing. What’s more is that as I go through these processes, I intend to write a great deal more. Authoring is not a panacea, however, it has always been a great means of catharsis. I plan on sharing more of my creative work as well as chronicling my journey. Part of my recovery entails opening up more, as I tend to withdrawal as a way to cope. Part of quieting my often boisterous inner critic is to affirm that my thoughts, feelings and experiences are not only valid, but may also be of some value to others who are in the same boat.

So, with this, dear readers, I ask for your well wishes, and your eyes;

as often as you can spare them.

In the meantime, it’s back to headquarters.

Coming Home

Jakub_Schikaneder_-_Vecer_v_zahrade_(1907-9)

My dearest readers, let me first offer an apology for the length of silence and my neglect of my page.

I last published in January of 2018, and so very much has occurred since then.

As you might (or might not) expect, I have delved into more Jungian psychology, done a great deal more self exploration and confronted some stark truths, all for the greater good (I hope).

I have listened to hours of recorded talks and lectures by a clinical psychologist I highly respect and greatly admire, read more, and spent a good deal of time on my creative writing, poetry mostly. I’ve also toyed with the idea of creating an offshoot of this blog and sharing some of it there.

In the time I’ve been away, I felt a bit defeated in some respects, as far as this project is concerned. I’ve pulled this sight up countless times and I still have six drafts unpublished in the queue. My struggle of late has been questioning what it is that I really have to say and who gives a damn about it, frankly.

What do these articles accomplish? What value do they bring to those who may happen upon them? Is it vanity or arrogance that drives my desire to publish my thoughts and opinions? This warring dichotomy in my brain, one part saying “it’s okay to not know what you don’t know until you know it” the other “it’s okay to know what you know, even if people don’t want to hear it.”  I’m not being totalitarian here, please don’t misunderstand me. It has been my experience that the further I delve into myself, the more I confront, the more I see others fighting the same battles.

Then, the other voices of the committee in my brain chime in:

“You’ve been told you’re a talented writer, so why aren’t you writing?”

“If anything you have to contribute can be of use to another person you have an obligation to do so, otherwise you’re wasting your talent”

“At the end of the day, this makes you happy, and that’s okay.”

 

It’s a constant tightrope walk; feeling the desire to be useful and to contribute in whatever way I can yet not allowing that desire for usefulness become vainglory and false humility, to not be arrogant or dogmatic, to be steadfast yet not tyrannical. The lines between these concepts can get blurry, to say the least.

At the end of the raucous discussion in my head, the president of the committee uses its veto power, becomes rather authoritarian, bellows from the chair at the head of the table while pounding a fist and says “dammit, you love to write, so you’ll write!”

Meeting adjourned, and alas here we are.

 

As expected after a long trip, I have brought souvenirs, one of which I’ll be posting later today.

My deepest and most sincere gratitude for all of you who have read, followed, commented and will continue to do so.

 

Exit Eden

darkgarden

Having always vacillated between light and shadow, I would be lying if I told you that there weren’t times in my life where I lingered too long in both places.  Balance was a struggle for me, especially during the times in my life where I felt that I was not in a place where certain parts would be accepted. Even now, especially being an Empath, there are very few places where the shadows are free to roam.

The confines of my own thoughts, numerous hand written pages (now a blog) and a select few confidants gave those shadows safe haven. However, there was a place where the shadows were completely free;

Free of judgement,

Free of shame,

Free of being misunderstood.

It was my Dark Eden.

It was a sacred place to me, because within it I had vested aspects of myself that I never truly felt safe enough to express anywhere else. It had been quite some time since I was able to go back. As fate would have it, I was given the opportunity and was only too happy to return. When I arrived, it felt like I had never left. I was welcomed warmly, and though some things had changed over time, the most important things were exactly as I remembered them.  I felt like I had come home.

As anyone would be when revisiting a place that is special to them, I was excited to spend time in each of the places that I enjoyed the most, especially the heart of the garden, which was the most exquisite part. To most others, it would not look very appealing. Emily Bronte said it best:

“A source of little visible delight, but necessary.”

When I got there at long last, something new had appeared amid the darkness. A great tree, much like one in the Biblical Eden, and this too was a tree of knowledge. However, there was no warning not to eat it, nothing was “forbidden” here, so I picked the fruit and ate of it.

It was bitter, almost rancid tasting, and after I begrudgingly swallowed, something happened…

The most terrible feeling washed over me. I felt as if I were caught giggling at a funeral, and every onlooking pair of eyes glared at me as if I were the widow who wore red. I was confounded, and yes, angry. I had done nothing wrong, in fact, there was no “wrong” that could be done here. Then it occurred to me;

My shadows were no longer welcomed there.

The Empath (as well as the highly empathetic) sometimes endures a variation of what they call white room torture. It is a form of psychological torture where the prisoner is placed in a room where virtually everything is white. There is no sound, no color. Everything the prisoner touches, eats or interacts with is stark white. The lack of contrast and sensory deprivation causes the prisoner to feel isolated and lose all sense of themselves. This is how truly vital darkness is, and living in a world that would prefer we stay in the white room, where to be an Empath means love and light “or else,” our dark Edens become just as vital; and here I was being expulsed from this my most sacred and treasured place.

As the gates closed and locked behind me, I felt the most horrible rejection I had ever felt in my life. My blue-violet paradise was now a cold, grey tomb. It is a loss from which I’m not sure I will ever completely recover.

Solitude of the Mind and Conversations I’ll Never Have

“Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.” – Carl Jung

 

I adore Carl Jung’s work, not only as a renowned psychoanalyst, but as a pioneer of the exploration of the shadowed self. (And, of course, he’s an INFJ as well)

I have read this quote numerous times and always appreciated its meaning, however that meaning deepened and became far more personal to me in the recent past. When I came across this quote again recently, I recalled a discussion I had with a friend not long ago:

At one point he’d become frustrated because as he was talking, he would pause for a moment to allow me to interject, and I could only offer silence or a few awkward, fragmented words. People often get frustrated with me because of this. They think I’m holding out, holding back, afraid to speak my mind, afraid to tell the truth (and que es veritas, anyhow?).

What people cannot understand is in the midst of an intense conversation, I’m asked a question or expected to respond and a multitude of thoughts rise in my mind like the bubbles in a boiling pot of water. Add to this being an Empath; the onslaught of all of my feelings, all of their feelings, the rolling avalanche of all things past and the run away train of what is to come….

It’s a wonder I can speak at all.

And yes, in true INFJ fashion, I have mulled over the countless things I wish I could have said at the time, all the reasons I could not, and knowing that even if I had, the chances they would have been received the way I intended  are slim. It is truly a double edged sword; An INFJ that cannot quickly organize their thoughts coupled with the Empath’s cautiousness lest they say too much.  As I mulled this over, it was difficult to identify exactly how I felt, which sort of struck me. Empaths are experts when it comes to feelings, right? It wasn’t quite sadness or regret, it wasn’t anger or resentment, and then I came across this quote again, and it felt like a boulder landed on my chest.

It was loneliness, and not just loneliness, but several interpretations of it.

It was the loneliness you imagine someone felt watching a lover waving good-bye as a train left the station in one of those old movies. It was the loneliness a child feels watching all the other children play and not being invited to join in because they’re not very good at the game. It was the loneliness you feel when a group of people laughs at an inside joke that you’re not privy too and end up sort of feeling like the punchline.

It is a crippling and sometimes maddening loneliness, because yes, I want to be able to express exactly what’s happening in my mind at the time, but it could take weeks, maybe months to completely understand it myself. By then, the moment has long since passed, and it’s too late to turn to it again. This is why in a room full of people, even if it seems like I am having the time of my life, this feeling of perpetual solitude is draped over my shoulders and wrapped around me like an old shawl. Sure, I wear it well, but to most others it looks more like Linus’ blue blanket than anything else. I must admit, it does offer me a sense of security. It’s often easier to let others assume what they like rather than add to the confusion by trying to explain, especially when I haven’t fully grasped the concept yet myself.

And then what of this innate gift of mine? What am I supposed to do when I know that even the most accurate, concise phrasing of my thoughts are going to destroy the person? After some thought, or at some point in the future, I could have said to this person “look, I wasn’t lying or trying to flatter you when I said you’re a good person, because in many ways you are; but don’t think I don’t know, that I haven’t always known that you’re also a monster.”

(At this point, the dejection and cold rage would set in, and if it were possible for me to continue, it would go as such)

“If that bothered me, I wouldn’t be standing here having this conversation.”

(Now, you have to try and understand the context here, because while some people would possibly find some solace in those words, the person in question is not just some person. This would ultimately be my undoing, because in their mind,  a truly good person would NEVER accept a monster. It is the great “fuck you” of the ages. People always say they want to be loved and accepted for exactly what they are, but when that happens the one who does typically ends up being resented for it. Please note too that “monster” is subjective; it has more to do with the way this person sees themselves. Not that there isn’t a modicum of truth to it, but guess what, it’s true for pretty much everyone, some are just better at hiding it than others)

I could go on, but even now, I find it difficult to continue. There’s a sense of futility that I cannot for the life of me seem to shake. Plus, this is only one example. This has happened at least once with every single person I have been close to. There have been times when I was gifted the chance to revisit these thoughts and convey them. I am immensely grateful for those times. However, that is the exception, not the norm.

And so it goes. Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to finish this, maybe not. However, should the chance arise, I promise you, dear readers, I will try to see it through.

The Top 5 Things Empaths (this one at least) are Sick of Hearing…

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:

  • So, you’re psychic, right?

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.

  • Can you read me? Or how about my boyfriend/girlfriend etc? Tell me everything!

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?

Wrong.

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.

 

 

 

Twin Flames: Once your flame, twice your burn

An inconvenient truth:

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…

Intriguing…

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:

  1. The relationship progresses quickly and intensely with great harmony…..at first
  2. The “runner” of the twin flame tends to bring out the worst in the “chaser”
  3. The “runner” is prone to insults, affairs and all manner of unacceptable behavior because they are resistant to the all-encompassing, perfect love of the other flame
  4. They leave (or one the other escapes unable to deal with the “mirroring of the other twin flame”)
  5. The “runner” re-enters your life over and over again

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.

 

Trial by Fire

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.

 

The Battle Empath

warriorangel

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.