Fighting with an Empath

APRIL 5, 2016

There is a recent fascination with labeling people as empaths. There are all these lists like “20 ways to love an empath,” or “10 reasons you should marry an empath.” I’m sure you’ve read seen them floating around.

And not to knock them, because I love the empaths in my life. The little feelers with their soft squishy hearts and ever-sensing antenna calculating the temperature of the room. Some are wrapped in a warm protective shells, others scamper around freely, welcoming all the sensations, and the empaths I’m most familiar with crawl out of their shell when conditions are calm and they know it’s safe, ever ready to slide back into safety if the waters get rough.

Loving an empath is easy, mainly because if you’re loving them they have no choice but to love you back. You have the freedom to set the tone while they dutifully follow along.

But fighting an empath is a different, and terrifying, thing.

Empaths collect. They normally don’t feel they can respond, so instead they remember. Collect and remember. They remember your favorite color when you were 7 1/2. They remember that time you yelled at them, two years, five days, and 53 minutes ago. They collect your mundane daily stories like gemstones, shiny and valuable. They collect your harsh words like child collecting sea shells. Their fleshy hearts are left open as they recount the laughs; left bleeding as they replay the hurt.

And while they collect, they are silent. Quietly hoping you notice their efforts, quietly hoping you’ll notice their bleeding wounds.

Quietly they watch, collect, remember, and you, the non-empath, are none the wiser. If you are a particularly mean non-empath, you use their soft center as a sponge for your unwanted emotions. You wipe up your negativity with their willing heart, then leave, happily relieved of your burdens.

But the empath is watching, waiting, remembering, and collecting.

When the empath has collected enough evidence, when they have dutifully served their time, they strike with a vengeance. The hurt comes first, then the frustration, then the anger. Every thought and feeling they’ve collected they hand back to you; they can not stop, less they never have this chance again. They ring out their hearts like rag, ridding themselves of every last bit.

“Loving an empath is a privilege. Treat it with respect.”

Then, they crawl away. Guilty and empty; they retreat.

Loving an empath is easy. Fighting with an empath is hard. They want to use their delicate sensors around you, so make the room safe. They want to be accommodating and gentle, so tread lightly. They want to speak out, so take turns listening.

Loving an empath is a privilege. Treat it with respect.

I Am Not a Good Person

I Am Not a Good Person

DECEMBER 18, 2017

Early in 2017, I invited a person into my life. I really want to do right by this person; provide them with love and understanding. I genuinely believed I was doing the right thing. I was a good person after all.

It didn’t take long for this person to start sharing stories with me. Stories that honestly, sounded really evil. I would say these behaviors were up there with selling drugs to children. And interestingly enough, this person would end all of their stories with, “I mean, I’m still a good person.”

It totally threw me for a loop. How on earth could this person, this very very selfish person, consider themselves good?

I pondered on that for many months until this person’s behaviors were targeted at me. I felt unsafe, unloved, and disrespected. So….I had to cut off the relationships with this person.

(I know I’m being vague, and I’m very sorry, you know I normally like to lay it all out there)

Flash forward to today, December 2017. I’m exercising in my basement and naturally, paying very little attention to my form or the upsettingly dirty floor on which I was planking. Instead, I was fixated on this person-who-can-not-be-named. And how this person wants nothing to do with me. By all accounts (from this person) I genuinely suck for cutting them out. And as I wrestled with the hurt, I consoled myself with “Even though they don’t think so, I’m still a good person.”

Cue screeching noise.

But what if I’m not a good person? There are lots of people out there who do really terrible things. People leave their children, rob gas stations, and fail to use their turn signal. I’m sure these people would consider themselves “good.” At their core at least.

As I explore this concept of “good,” I’ve arrived at a few conclusions:

No one is inherently good. If we were, fighting our natural impulses would be a whole lot easier. In fact, if we were truly good, our natural impulses would be a lot less self-seeking and would hurt fewer people.
What we deem “good,” is highly subjective. It takes us back to the whole, “If a father steals of loaf of bread for his starving family, did he really commit a crime?” And the answer is still yes, by the way. But it isn’t easy to punish. This guy was just trying to do what he thought was good. It’s good to take care of your family. It’s good to protect yourself and others, but it’s not uncommon for your needs to overlap with another’s.
“I’m a good person,” creates a dangerous status-quo. If we do something shitty, and we console our guilty conscious by cooing, “I’m still a good person,” all we’re doing is training our brains to associate selfish behaviors with good behaviors. It doesn’t take long for those small transgression to compound into leaving your wife for another woman. You’re still “good” after all.
Republicans think they are good. Democrats think they’re good. Yet, somehow they hate each other for being evil. Someone explain that, please.
What do we get for being “good?” Really, nothing. We just create a respite from feeling like the self-serving assholes we are.

Ok so, let’s not travel much further into how “un-good,” we are.

“We can go back to our roots as a loved, worthy, and free human being.”

Instead, I want to replace good with worthy. Or loved. These are things bad decisions can’t take away from us. Let’s pause and really think about that. That can’t be taken away from us. I do believe we are all born with those qualities. Granted, that particular belief comes from a deeply rooted belief in Jesus Christ, but I’m sure we can all agree we are deserving of love.

In addition, we are all free. Free to make our own decisions and build our own lives. We can spend every day seeking out good behaviors and not beating ourselves up if we make a misstep. We can go back to our roots as a loved, worthy, and free human being.

We are worthy of love and free to choose it. But we’re also free to be jerks to everyone we meet. Still worthy of love and self-respect but still a jerk. Murderers, you are not good people, no matter how you try to reason it out. Drug dealers, I don’t care if you need the money, you aren’t making the world a better place. Eighth grade girl commenting on YouTube, you aren’t still a good person after tearing down a girl from school trying to make it big. Even after you throw a surprise party for a homeless man and his baby, I can guarantee you still aren’t good.

Worthy of love, absolutely. Good, hell no.

This person, who-shall-not-be-named, is still worthy of love. And is still free to choose love. But I am also free to choose the shit I will and will not take from others. So no, I’m not a “good,” person. I’m still seeking to protect myself in lieu of maintaining a toxic relationship.*

Inherently, we’re all pretty shitty, so let’s stop lying about it, wallowing in self-pity, or judging others because of it. We are, however, unshakably worthy, loved, and free. And I don’t know about you, but I’d choose that over “good” any day.

Amen.

*Creating boundaries isn’t selfish, but it can seem so to the people running into them*

Copyright © 2016 Sarah Jo Crawford. All rights reserved.

All the Reasons My Husband Didn’t Marry Me

All the Reasons My Husband Didn’t Marry Me

DECEMBER 14, 2016

I know, I know. The headline makes little to no sense. But let me explain.

This morning, husband and I had a bit of a spat. E.g. he was mad over something I thought was dumb, and I was trying not to laugh, while he was kindly withholding  anger I could see behind his eyes. But I digress.

As we were working through the complexities of how I didn’t switch out the laundry (therefore we had to rewash some towels..ahhh marriage), I said the single most insightful thing I think I’ve ever said to date. “Babe, you didn’t marry me for my attention to detail.”

And just like that, everything came crashing into perspective for about 5 minutes.

Before something else grabbed my attention.

But think about that. Husband and I married each other for a lot of habits, predispositions, and quirky proclivities, BUT after the wedding, we find ourselves wanting those other things we forgot to check off the list. Come with me as we explore all the things husband forgot to ask for during our vows.

1. Attention to detail

Lord, come quickly this is my achilles heel. I have zero attention to detail. Ten bucks says you’ve already found a grammatical or spelling error in the post. I just cant be bothered to pay attention. Recently, my lack of attention to detail cost us big. Like HUGE.

So alas, husband is forced to bite his tongue, while I leave dirty spoons on the counter and old food in the fridge. Also when I tiled a shower… OOPS 17 CROOKED TILES IN A ROW.

These are not the things for which he signed up. But the good news is, he forwent all the little things in exchange for something big.

I’m so ADVENTUROUS. Like anytime of day (except for after 10 and before 6) I’m down to do something fun. New projects? Let’s do it. Trip to Iceland? I already planned it, albeit, not well. You will never find me hesitant to jump head first or worrying about the details. I’m in it to win it and details won’t keep me from running with it. Problems are just another adventure.

FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN!

2. Patience

I normally finish off big fights with the olhub by reminding him he knew I wasn’t patient when we got married. In fact, I was the one who offered to move the wedding up five months. I don’t care for waiting for things that I know I want. I am capable of waiting a reasonable amount of time, but put me in traffic and I’ll lose my damn mind.

“I’m not scared of the unknown because I know the destination of my life.”

However, I have the strongest moral compass of anyone I know. I’m a little flighty on the small stuff, but I never, ever deviate from what I know to be true. I fight for justice and face confrontation head on. I’m not scared of the unknown because I know the destination for my life. I don’t shy away from conflict because I know my relationships will weather the storm. I know what matters and I focus on those things. Yes, I worry about money, but when things get tight, I always find myself more grateful for my husband, home, and friends.

But I’d like some money now, please, thanks.

3. Empathy
No, I am not a robot. Yes, I feel feelings and care about people. But overall, if someone else is crying, I won’t automatically cry along with them. If someone is broken into a million pieces, I just kinda sit there and look at them. Sometimes I can’t read a room. Sometimes I say inappropriate things. I struggle feeling what others are feeling.

Interestingly enough, I am capable of empathy, I just don’t find it particularly useful. It gets in the way. It honestly becomes rather selfish to make someone else’s feelings your problem. While it has its place in all relationships, it’s just a tool I don’t find myself using often. For some, it’s unsettling. Everyone in the room could be crying and I’m just like wow that’s sad.

 

And on the flip side, it makes me a fabulous friend in times of crisis. It makes me a fantastic wife and rock-solid confidant. When I don’t feel what you’re feeling, I’m free to think clearly and logically. I can watch you cry and use my headspace to sympathize, care for you, and find solutions without feeling burdened. So, you had a traumatic childhood with lots of abuse and have terrifying stories to tell? Let’s dig in, it won’t bother me. Cry your eyes out my friend, this is about your feelings not mine. And if you need my empathy, please ask me to turn it on. In fact, I might just ask you straight out of the gate “Do you want solutions, sympathy, or do you want me to sit in this hole with you for a while?”

It’s a choose your own adventure sort of thing.

So I lean into my strengths while accommodating my weaknesses. If you want to rise up from a problem and kick some ass, let’s talk. If you want to try something new or scary, let’s roll bitch. And if you want to do all of the above right this very minute, even better.

So, to my dear husband, thank you for loving me and all the things that came along with the wedding ring. But realistically, I should be saying you’re welcome, because this article makes me sound pretty awesome.

So you are welcome for all this joy I bring into your life.

Kisses.

 

Copyright © 2016 Sarah Jo Crawford. All rights reserved.

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Copyright © 2016 Sarah Jo Crawford. All rights reserved.

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