Breaking Up for An Empath Isn’t Simple
A friend’s recent break-up got me thinking about the rare (maybe 2) occasions I’ve had to end a relationship instead of someone ending it for me. With the notable exception of my marriage which was long overdue by the time I ended it, I still remember suffering emotionally when I had to tell someone what we had wasn’t working for me any more.
Even when it’s been a clean break, no further communication, both going our own way, it still seemed like a laceration to my heart. I’m not saying a lot of people don’t suffer when they end a relationship. What I am saying is Empaths get a double whammy. We hurt for ourselves and for the person we left. Physical distance means nothing when faced with emotional pain from someone we care about.
Sure, some endings come because we stopped caring (like my marriage), or because we’ve been betrayed. Though easier to get over since we effectively block the other person’s emotions, an Empath feels levels of pain others probably won’t understand. It comes back to bite us just like any other kind of grief. We re-live good times and bad, second-guess ourselves, and even entertain the notion that the relationship could be fixed if we just tried harder.
Holding On Too Long
Following that train of thought leads me to wonder if Empaths stick out relationships longer than they should, unconsciously trying to spare ourselves pain. Do we go beyond the last straw to save a relationship that isn’t really worth saving? Even more, do we ignore signs that our partner is no longer committed to the relationship and may even be cheating on us, simply to avoid being the one to end things?
For myself, years after I’d divorced my husband, people told me they knew he was cheating on me. Perhaps the signs were obvious and I chose to ignore them rather than having to end things. I knew when we were no longer connected in any way, yet chose to distance myself emotionally while pretending to maintain the relationship. I even treated him horribly, which I regretted later, hoping he’d be the one to decide to leave.
Early Lessons in Narcissism
In the end, I had to pull the plug, and he behaved as most narcissists do, though at the time, I hadn’t made the connection. He was cruel, nasty, and abusive. Only distancing myself physically alleviated some of the effects of his vitriol. Surprisingly, his signature on the piece of paper ending our marriage legally was the most cathartic act of all for me. It’s as if the energy in his signature drained off whatever hold he still had on my emotional and energetic self. I felt drained but relieved, and finally able to move forward with my own life.
It still took a long time to rebuild myself after the damage he’d wrought, but I was already broken when we got together. Part of the rebuilding process involved creating an entirely new foundation containing components with which I was unfamiliar. Having been raised to contain my emotions and to believe taunting and teasing were symbols of love, I had to learn and forge a new path before I could rebuild on a foundation which would bear the weight of the years to come.
Creating Our Own Paths
I’ve experienced a lot of trial and error in the last 20 years or so. In some ways, it’s been a lot like rock climbing. You reach for the next handhold, testing its ability to hold your weight before using it to reach for the next rock or outcropping. Sometimes I fell back a few paces. Others, I lost a lot of ground and a great deal of skin as well. Those were painful but necessary lessons in who and what I could trust. It’s when I started learning how to recognize a narcissist and avoid being used to fuel their insatiable need for adoration and getting their own way. It’s also when I started seeing how many times I’d been bled dry in a fruitless effort to please one.
These days, I’m still on the fence. I’m mentally ready to find someone and commit, but emotionally, there’s still a lot of trepidation. I don’t entirely trust myself to see the signs of a narcissist and run the other way. I’ve seen my savvier Empath friends fall victim, which causes me to distrust my own instincts too.
Trusting Ourselves and the Lessons We’ve Learned
Yet I know I already have a healthy array of red flags at my disposal. Despite the wiliness of the average narcissist, they’re bound to trigger one of those red flags before I get in too deep. And probability-wise, I don’t have a lot more decades in this meat suit, so I might as well give myself a chance to live what’s left fully and completely, even if it means having to go through the painfully unpleasant process of admitting I made a mistake, and ending things once more.
We all make choices, but rarely do we choose pain. Instead, we choose to take chances on things we know have the potential to end painfully just as they have the potentially to bring us great joy. Do we avoid the opportunity for great joy so we insure we don’t get hurt? Or do we risk potential consequences to reap equally probable rewards?
I’ve taken the safe route for a very long time as I clutch memories of the painful times close. But there comes a time when we all realize the painful stuff can only hurt us if we allow it, and it’s time to take away its power. If there’s pain to be had, we have it within ourselves to minimize the pain and decrease the longevity based on what we’ve learned from previous experiences.
What it comes down to is trusting ourselves.
Do you trust yourself, or are you still wrapping yourself in cotton wool to save you from making more painful mistakes? How’s that working for you?
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, even if they were painful for a long time.
- I’m grateful for choices. I can be what, where, and who I want as long as I’m willing to accept some risk, and some unknowns.
- I’m grateful for love. In its many forms, it truly does heal all wounds. Especially self-love.
- I’m grateful for opportunities and ideas which come to me when I learn to let go.
- I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, light, ideas, support, collaboration, joy, compassion, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward