Being An Empathy Is Not A Flaw – Unless You Make It One

We always hear about Empaths when we talk about Narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths; as if, in order to fall victim to a narcissist you must be an empath. AND, it insinuates that IF you are an empath, being a victim is a certainty of life.

I dislike labeling people, or being labelled. I think often times people use their “label” as a copout. “I can’t help it, that’s just who I am”.

We always have a choice. Even the narcissist has a choice. It’s harder for the narcissist because he doesn’t have a conscience to guide his decisions, making it very easy to act solely in his self interest. But he has a personality disorder, key word; disorder.

Being an empath is not a disorder. People may treat you like you’re flawed; my mother always thought something was “wrong” with me. It wasn’t until I was in my 50’s I figured out that, I am normal, there are other people like me in the world and I am part of a rather rare personality type.

The world is made up of all types of people, (not just narcissists and Empaths) with varying degrees of empathy and anyone with a conscience has the ability to change, if they want to.

It’s definitely easier to stay the same than put the work into changing, even if staying the same causes us alot of pain. We don’t want to admit it, we prefer to blame the narcissist, our parents, or the fact that we are empaths and it’s just the way we are.

Too many empaths aren’t parented by people who nurture the empath’s uniqueness and teach the empath how to properly channel their special skills, protect themselves, and how to set boundaries.

If you are able to identify that you are an empath who was somehow involved with a narcissist, whether it was a parent, spouse, boss, friend or sibling, you are able to change how you relate to the world and end the cycle of being a victim.

There are perks to being a victim and it can be hard to give it up. It means you are responsible for your own happiness, your own security, you will have to make decisions and you will be the only one to blame if they fail. Whereas by remaining a victim you aren’t responsible for anything!
The narcissist is the “bad” one and you are the “good” person. Your life is a mess, but it’s not your fault. If the narcissist would just ……… (Fill in the blanks) your life would be perfect, you would be able to be happy. Elusive happiness, kept just out of reach by the nasty narcissist.

Some of you might find what I am saying offensive; but being a victim can be a pretty comfortable place to be. Feeling sorry for yourself can become a habit, and after awhile it becomes part, or your whole identity. You don’t know how to be anything else.

In a perfect world every parent would cherish their children for their unique traits and encourage their child to be all they can be instead of wanting to mold them into who the parent thinks they should be and being critical of their differences.

Let me make this very clear, being an empath does not mean you are flawed but it does mean you have to be smart and force yourself to set boundaries and protect yourself.

I don’t know about you but growing up I was always told I was too sensitive, too emotional, or to quote my dad, “a flake”. I was also the “care giver”, “peace maker” and “secret keeper”. I had no idea how dysfunctional my childhood was until I was putting my life back together after being destroyed by the narcissist.

I grew up in a home where my feelings were scoffed at or ignored, both parents kept secrets from each other and expected us kids to keep the secrets, we tiptoed on eggshells to avoid my dad’s temper and my mother was an oblivious people pleaser who preferred to keep her head buried in the sand because what she didn’t see couldn’t hurt her and “how things appeared” was all that mattered.

I buried my feelings until I would eventually explode over something insignificant; making myself appear irrational and unpredictable. I would feel guilty, end up apologizing and my feelings never got acknowledged or dealt with.

I became a people pleaser anticipating everyone else’s needs and being the person they told me I should be. I felt like a fraud and feared people would figure out I wasn’t who I was pretending to be and not like me.

I felt like a fraud because I was trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be; it’s impossible to feel confident if you aren’t being yourself. It’s hard to be happy when you aren’t pursuing anything you are passionate about and living your life for other people.

I would bet money that you were made into a prime target for a narcissist by people who supposedly loved you and had your best interests at heart.

My whole life had been spent rescuing everyone else, instinctively knowing how to make people feel better and the whole family relied on me to be the stable, reliable one, while at the same time making jokes about what a “flake” I was. My younger brother was a train wreck, my mother moved right next door after my dad left her and arrived at my door in tears every night, my son’s father said, “you wanted him, you’ve got him, deal with it”, then I married a guy who was financially irresponsible and I ended up losing everything because I co-signed debt for him and he claimed bankruptcy. My son quit school and was getting into trouble.

I was SO SICK of being responsible!! Then my mom, who held the mortgage on my tiny cabin (because of my ex going bankrupt) sold my cabin out from under me because she wanted me to wash my hands of my son.

Then I met the narc. Looking back I can see how I was a prime target. He was charming, younger, wined and dined me, thought I was the most beautiful woman he had ever met. I was perfect just the way I was. He was exciting, spontaneous, and madly in love with me, the real me. And I made the conscious decision to let my guard down and let a man take care of me for a change.

When things started to fall apart shortly after I moved in, I had no where to go, my mother had sold my house. I thought, “what have I got to lose?” And stayed when he asked me to.

When he told me I was too sensitive, too suspicious, paranoid; I believed him and doubted my gut instincts; because I had always been told that by my own family.

Had I been taught as a child to listen to my gut, that I was special because of my ability to read people’s emotions and told my feelings were valued and not dismissed. If someone had allowed me to express my anger and validated me; the narcissist wouldn’t have been able to get a strong hold of me.

I have forgiven my mother, she was raised by a very abusive man and her mother was an uneducated weak woman. She married my dad young and had never been with anyone else. She never was a nurturing mother, she was a child herself and she did what she could to avoid anger, and learned to lie, have secrets, self preservation, even if it meant making her own daughter the scape goat.

We all have our own stories of our childhood and I bet few of you were nurtured and accepted as you are. It is up to you to heal yourself by learning how to be an empathic person without sacrificing your own happiness and security. It is possible.

I talk about how you can learn to accept and love yourself in these past posts

https://ladywithatruck.com/2015/03/12/i-bet-you-are-an-empath/

https://ladywithatruck.com/2018/04/16/22438/

https://ladywithatruck.com/2014/07/25/spiritual-growth-and-emotional-maturity-comes-from-pain/

https://ladywithatruck.com/2014/07/25/spiritual-growth-and-emotional-maturity-comes-from-pain/

6 thoughts on “Being An Empathy Is Not A Flaw – Unless You Make It One

  1. Tom Campbell

    Thanks for such a great article! I thought you were writing about my life, much of it. Even if I am a guy. Your early years. I often wonder why others do not have much empathy, or why I just feel too tired to have some, at moments. I work in a field where I have to have some, and some days it’s just gone. And I know that I can’t stand it when a woman is sobbing about her life and saying how she “doesn’t deserve this” and “life is so cruel”, as my mother used to say all that, get me all upset as I would try to make her feel better, then the next day she’d be Pollyanna. When the check had come in, or whatever. (My mother is still not nurturing, at 87 -and I’m the only child who lives near her. She moved closer to me!) But HOW do we move on, when the person who used us in many ways is still around, and others won’t pitch in and help (like my brothers with my mother)?

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Oh Tom, I can relate to your situation so well. Only difference is my brother moved away, leaving me as my mother’s only support system.
      It’s no surprise, he has pulled the disappearing act every time he might be called on for anything.
      It’s not easy, I feel very bitter about the past and even feel hate towards my mother at times.
      But I have accepted the way things are and the limitations of my family. I have stopped hoping for or expecting more.
      I have also made a vow to myself, a commitment I made in an effort to heal myself. I know the only way I can ever have inner peace is if I live true to my core self. That means I don’t do anything because I feel pressured or guilty. Alot of the unwise decisions I have made in life were made because I felt pressured.
      I don’t allow my mother to lie in front of me or talk about people behind their backs.
      I also told her exactly how her actions almost got me killed and adversely affected my future security.
      Of course she acts confused or doesn’t remember doing most of it but I know the truth. I don’t argue with her, just state the facts and she has learned that I will confront her on her lies no matter who is there and I have been known to leave no matter what was going on.
      I went to my brother’s for xmas 3 years ago and it was hell, I have not been back since. I am loving on the phone and when he comes to visit but I will never stay at his house when they have a houseful. He drinks too much and gets miserable.
      I stay in touch with my step siblings because they see my mom for who she really is and refuse to be pressured into hating them because my mom wants me to.
      I have so many stories of shit she has done but it’s becoming more and more rare that she tries to lie etc because it doesn’t work in her favor and she knows I am all she has.
      But I am determined to not let her control my life any more. She can’t buy me, no matter how broke I am. I have slept in my car and will again before I’ll take her money.
      The longer I live true to me the more she values me.
      What people think has always been so important to my mother. She never valued my painting talent or ability to write. Since I have been painting more and selling my stuff her friends have expounded on my talent and all of a sudden she values my talents. I don’t feel like a fraud any more.
      It’s not perfect but I am at peace.
      Good luck
      Big hugs ❤️

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  2. Elizabeth

    I relate to so much of your story! I’m not a fan of the term “Empath” – it sounds like another form of narcissism. I know I’m an empathic person, and like you said, you have to learn to set and keep boundaries, practice self care, etc. And I give up trying to explain to people what happened to me. They don’t get it or don’t want to. The worse things I don’t talk about because I don’t want to upset them. Or maybe I’m just afraid they still wouldn’t care.

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  3. Carrie Reimer Post author

    Elizabeth, when we heal the need to share our experience lessens. It’s acceptance of what we can’t change. Like the Serenity Prayer, accept what we can’t change and change what we can.
    I remember when the truth finally hit me that I wasn’t flawed. I took the “16 personalities” test online and the results were so right on and it said that only 4% of the population were this type of personality.
    All those years thinking I was wrong, flawed, had to change or fix myself; I was (excuse me) so fucking mad!!
    My mom and I were taking a walk shortly after and were talking about something and my mom did her usual, “You always have cared too much, you need to toughen up.” I turned to her and said, “No I don’t have to change anything, I am a type of personality and the world would be alot better off if there were more of me”.
    Another time she was trying to relate to me how one of her good friends got involved with a narcissist and she had almost lost everything and my mom had always thought the woman was smart.
    I said, “She is still smart. It has nothing to do with how smart a person is!!”
    The sheer stupidity of a statement like that shows how stupid she is. Now I see how emotionally immature my mother is.
    I have found the fastest way to clear a room is to start talking about what has happened to me. But I don’t feel the need to talk about it any more because I don’t need validation any more.
    There have been times when I share, like one time at my friend’s there was a woman I had never met before and she revealed she had one glass eye and her biggest fear was losing sight in her remaining eye. I asked what happened to her eye and she revealed she’d been in an abusive relationship and he had pushed a corn broom in her face and took out her eye.
    I was able to relate to her experience and we ended up talking until 4 am. The whole room got quiet and just listened to the 2 of us talk. Everyone had tears running down their face, a guy joined in the conversation. We hugged at the end and the woman said it was the first time she ever talked about what happened to anyone and she felt the weight of the world off her shoulders.
    After everyone left my friend said, “that was amazing!”
    It was amazing and felt so good, to be able to give a person permission to share their experience without judgement and to let them know they are not crazy or flawed.
    So that is when I share my experience, when I feel someone needs to hear, “I understand, I have been there.”
    To try to make someone who isn’t an empath understand is an exercise in futility because they just don’t care and can’t relate.
    My mother is SO shallow sometimes it amazes me people don’t see it. But I am not going to try to convince them.
    I’m just glad I’m not like her.
    Thanks so much for your input.
    Hugs Carrie ❤️

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    1. Elizabeth

      Wow, I’m a little late replying! Yes, I feel like I’m at that turning point where I care less and less about opinions. What you said about your mom, I’ve had that zero compassion and judgmental attitude from a few women in my life who I thought would have really been more understanding. It’s great if you can even find one person, even if it’s on line on a blog or channel, who gets what you’re about. By the way, I took that test too, I think we must be the same one! 😊Thanks and cheers!

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