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.

 

People of Light and Shadow

Elements of Light and Form

lightform

While I myself am not a talented painter or sketch artist, I have several dear friends that are. I have studied those art forms for my own personal interest and one fundamental lesson I learned is that what takes a flat object and gives it dimension and depth are elements of light and form.

The image above labels the variant shades that give this sphere its dimension and depth. It begins with the highlight, the place on the object where the most light is cast and then gradually darkens to the cast shadow. The place where no light touches.  If you were to remove those gradients, you’d be left with the flat image of a circle.

That wouldn’t be very interesting, now would it?

Now, imagine this image were all highlight and no shadow. You would have a solid white, flat circle. If the image were all shadow, you would have a solid black flat circle.

Go ahead, picture it; that is, if you haven’t already.  Yes, of course you have.

Both images are quite lackluster, wouldn’t you agree?

In order for this image to have any dimension or depth, light and shadow must be present.

You see where I’m going with this…

Out of Our Element

All people are people of light and shadow. Some more light, others more shadow. One of the reasons I started this blog is to appeal to Empaths who are tired of the “pure light” label. We too have our light and shadow, and while we may see and feel the shadows of others, it does not mean we don’t possess our own.

Some people have dark places put in them as the result of their experiences. Others, I believe, are created with dark places to prepare them for their experiences. This is especially true for Empaths. Those shadows do not equate to “evil.” Don’t make that mistake. True “evil” is not as commonplace as the mundane world would have us believe. It is far easier for the world to lump things such as dysfunction, mental illness, disordered personalities etc. into the category of “evil.” It’s more comfortable for them because it may be too painful or difficult to explore. It may be too glaring a reflection of what may lurk inside themselves.

But we don’t get the luxury of being dismissive, do we? Most certainly not.

Our journeys into our own emotions and experiences as well as that of others gives us a much more detailed picture of not only the origin but the nature of what people so easily cast into the category of evil. We see shadow where others will only stubbornly acknowledge light and light where others will only stubbornly see shadow. Even in the darkest recesses of the most damaged human, a speck of light can exist. The great pitfall of seeing that speck of light is that we cast this laser-like focus upon it, because that is what we have been taught to do. It is our obligation to acknowledge that light, honor it, and last but not least, brighten it. Even if it is at our own peril.

Why has this dangerous ideal been force fed to us?

Because light is the easier, softer way. We must be the light and bring out the light in others!

I beg to differ.

This black and white thinking takes Emptahs out of their element and away from their purpose by forcing them to be conditional. This is never a healthy behavior in anyone, but I believe it is lethal for Empaths. I cannot speak for all, but I can say in my own experience, nothing;

not the worst toxic behavior of my family of origin,

not the worst break-ups,

not the worst financial setbacks,

nothing was as emotionally debilitating, painful, and self-deprecating as the efforts I had once made to try to be something I simply was not. I’m sure many of you reading this had more than one instance in your life where you felt you had to “hide” who and what you are. I downplayed my gifts for years to pursue a “normal” life, and that choice nearly drove me to my own destruction, not to mention causing great harm to others I love and care for. It was not only the downplay of my gifts but of continually forcing myself to “live in the light” that lead down that path. Even when I was comfortable enough to acknowledge what I was, I was instantly labeled “light worker,” “healer,” “protector.” Can I be those things, absolutely, and many times I am.

However, I also believe that it is perfectly fine to be a shadow worker.

I believe that so-called “healing” can become a self-serving attempt to make someone more to another’s liking.

I believe that there is a fine line between “protecting” and “enabling.”

This is the tightrope that Empaths walk. Most will pass the buck to us to heal the world, and those who are not meant or are simply not willing to be healed seek us out to “fix” them. We know that we can’t, at least not the way they would have us do it. All we can offer is a sharper picture of every aspect of themselves, accept it, and hope that they can learn to accept it too, or perhaps try to teach them if they are willing to learn and we have it in us to provide the lesson. Often times, we can only walk away and leave them to their own devices when we know they mean us harm. Only, that isn’t necessarily what everyone wants, is it?

I have come to understand that my task as an Empath is not so much to give people the type of healing they want, but rather reflect the balance that I and many others need.  The only way I know how to do that is to affirm who and what I am and commit to a life of balance.

A Declaration of Self

My shadows, whatever their origin or nature, are mine. I accept them, I embrace them, I honor them. I no longer struggle with elements of myself that I was born with. That acceptance made it possible for me to stop harming myself and others with those elements. The years of substances to numb what I felt, the self-hatred I draped in self – righteousness and harsh judgement of others, the years I spent in situations trying to enforce not just my will, but the will someone else told me I am SUPPOSED to have took such a heavy toll on my spirit. Instead I came to terms with those shadows in ways that felt honorable and true to me.

I refuse to see the world in extremes:

Light and Darkness

Good and Evil

Instead, I acknowledge the positive and negative within myself and others and I act accordingly.

 

 

 

The Empath

If you Google “what is an empath?” ,”empath definition,” or something similar,  your search will return this:

em·path
ˈempaTH/
noun
  1. (chiefly in science fiction) a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.

Don’t you love that; the little dig in the beginning; “chiefly in science fiction.”?

It’s the story of our lives, is it not? It has certainly been the story of mine.

 

Skeptics invalidate them, the metaphysical community marginalizes them, and the rest of humanity it seems only wants to underestimate and/or exploit them.  Yes, every Empath is by definition empathetic, but not every empathetic person is an Empath. Many people have a highly calibrated emotional barometer and can sense the emotions and “energies” of other people. However, if you’re reading this I suspect that you have experienced far more than that.

Yes, we are compassionate, however we are not messianic.

Yes, we are highly emotional and feel deeply, however we are not hysterics.

Yes, we are optimistic, however we are not naive.

Our compassion exists within a sobering realism. We accept that things are simply as they are. Water cannot be stone, stone cannot be mist, and so on and so forth. We also understand the irony that both fire and frost can burn.

Our emotions run very deep and are often times fueled and exaggerated by those around us or those we are closely connected to. We are also keenly aware of when we experience that which does not belong to us. Yet, it is not always the emotion in and of itself that we react to; this is especially true of the negative emotions of others. Our adverse reactions often times comes from the exhausting struggle others have with accepting their own negative emotions and experiences, with accepting themselves. For it is within their struggle that we acknowledge our own. We too grapple with our demons, sort through the bones of the skeletons in our closets and flip past the well-read parts of our story to see the chapters we are often reticent to study.

Our optimism is not quantified by “hope springs eternal,” but rather by “it’s okay for things to not be okay.”

We exist in a state of perpetual twilight, a place where light and dark meet and begin to mix. It sounds like a beautiful existence, and while often times it is, there are just as many times that it is anything but. Yet even at it’s most harrowing, we rejoice in this existence. We rejoice because it is truth, and truth no matter it’s level of beauty or brutality is what we live for. Truth in all things is what we seek. It is our lifeblood, our motivating force, our aphrodisiac.

We are more than healers, we are also destroyers. If it is fallacy and comes into our cross hairs,  we will obliterate it. The most grotesque of truths is exceedingly more pleasing to us than the most alluring lie. The masks you wear, the facade you hide behind, the barriers you erect will be disseminated and destroyed; sometimes gently, sometimes savagely. We are provocateurs; we will poke, pry, push, agitate and annoy. Anything to breach the walls.

All that come to know us are open books to us, whether they want to be or not (or whether we want them to be or not). Mystique is fleeting for us. Good thing for us we revel in truth as we do. Equally as good is that truth is usually stranger than fiction.

And with this, I welcome you;

You who are damned among the sacred

and sacred among the damned.

Let our journey into our shadowed selves begin…