When I saw this posted on https://afternarcissisticabuse.wordpress.com/, I started to cry and really wasn’t sure why this particular post hit me so hard.  It’s been a horrible journey but most things I can read without such an emotional reaction.


After thinking about it, and reading it a few times over, I started realizing that the first sentence says it all.

For all of my life…ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been told I just ‘feel too hard.’  I take things too personally.  I try too hard.  I give too much.  That I’m simply just TOO SENSITIVE.  And for all of my life, I’ve tried to understand why it is these are considered such bad things in our society.

You see, I think empathy, caring, and unconditional love are GOOD things.  Those are the qualities I want in a person, and those are what I reflect back to others.

When I first started seeing Sarge socially, he had been in the Middle East for 3 deployments, couldn’t find a job, was struggling with PTSD, and began sharing things about his childhood that made me shudder.  I was starting to fall in love with him and feel great empathy for all he’d been through.  I felt so sad for what he’d been through in his childhood, and was awed by how he’d put his life on the line for months at a time to serve our country.  I could also understand why he developed PTSD based on the terrible things he saw during his deployments.  I pitied that fact that a vet couldn’t find a civilian job easily, and worried about him because he was thin and had no money to eat with.  In other words, I empathized with him.  I truly ‘felt’ his pain on so many levels, and believed if he had a woman who showed true caring and who loved him unconditionally (something he apparently hadn’t had as a child), things would turn around for him.  He’d get ‘happy’…start feeling secure…and be able to live a life that was fun, fulfilling, and less financially stressful.  At first, I felt I owed him some of this simply because he was a vet, and my respect for any vets’ service is immense.  After I fell in love with him, I WANTED to do these things for him because of that love.  And I was hoping, and based on our first few months together, assuming, he’d do the same for me.

No matter how much I study human behavior (as a professor), it’s still outside of my realm of comprehension HOW people just can’t love like I do.  Yes, I know much about nature and nurture…about early attachment experiences…about biological tendencies, etc. but to not feel this very basic emotion as deeply and completely as I do, is something I just can’t comprehend based on my own emotional capacity.

I feel like all my life I’ve looked for this elusive love.   As a little girl, I sought out the love of my dad, and often felt there were so many conditions tied to that love.  I felt I had to be a certain way and even then, it felt to me as if the love was meted out in a way I could never catch on to.  And because I didn’t understand the dynamic, I never knew what would make my dad pay loving attention to me and what wouldn’t.  I’m still struggling with that now.  Wanting more attention…more interaction…more recognition from him, but yet not getting it.  And then getting angry at myself for needing it still at the age of 50. I see him doing things with so many other people that I would love for him to do with me.  But, for some reason, I feel like there’s just not a ‘liking’ there on his side.  That spending time with me is more of an obligation, than an actual ‘want.’  And I’ve questioned for all these years what it is that I did wrong that made my own father not love me or seek out a relationship with me.

So, I tried to find it elsewhere.  And not just with men, but with friends as well.  Maybe because I am so hyper-sensitive (more on that in just a bit), I tend to cling!  I start to get a new friend, and I push and push.  I want so bad to be wanted by another, even just a peer, that my eagerness to ‘seal’ the friendship can be off-putting.  I know that.  But I can’t help it.

I’ve always done the same thing with the men in my life.  From the time of my first high school boyfriend to my latest ex-husband (!), I give too much.  My ex-hubby and I are still the best of friends, and he told me once that it was just too much for him.  That he couldn’t match my willingness to give.  That I made him feel as if he couldn’t catch up to where I was in terms of our marriage.  That at times, it was hard to accept everything I was giving and doing.  But to be honest, I just don’t know any other way.  And I’m getting a little tired of apologizing for it.

At first, I thought Sarge was going to be different.  I really did.  We clicked right away and everything he said and everything he did made me believe I had finally found the person who could accept me and my emotional offerings, and return them to me.  He made me feel loved.  Accepted.  And as if there were nothing wrong with the way I was.  Then, as is the story with all narcissists, what he loved and admired in me in the beginning, became the basis for his contempt, criticism, and at times, what felt like hatred as our relationship progressed.  And suddenly, everything wrong with the relationship was what was right for it in the beginning.  Yep…that’s not confusing.

You know, I realize I am hypersensitive.  So many people in my life have told me I need to let things roll of my back better.  I need to ‘calm down.’  I need to quit being so emotional.  Okey dokey.  I’ll just do that.  And at the same time, I’ll change my eye-color and breast size.  Because as much as those are a part of me, so is my emotional disposition. Also, people don’t realize how hard it is to be such an empath…to have such a high emotional sensitivity.  If I could change it, I would in a heartbeat.  It’s rough feeling so much everyday…being so ‘sensitive’ that one sentence or behavior can render you an emotional mess.  And then to be targeted by a narcissist, who is the polar opposite of myself, it’s really a form of hell.

How can one person feel so deeply, and another not feel anything at all?  Yes, I know these people have a personality disorder, which are a combination of genetic predispositions and environment, but don’t we all have a soul that is made in the image of God who is love?  Accepting the idea that someone CAN’T love, is as foreign to me as suggesting that God isn’t real. I simply can’t fathom the idea.  And to be brutally honest with you, I don’t want too.  I don’t want to live in a world where people can’t or don’t care…where people use you and discard you and never look back without any feeling of guilt or remorse.   Where people will look you in the eye, swear they are being truthful, and then tell you the most damaging lies you’ll ever hear.  Where people can make a fool of you and destroy a part of you and never know how it felt to be you for even just a second.  Where people can take the best of you…and make you feel as if it’s the worse.  Where you feel guilty for having been good.  And you wonder if you should ever risk doing that for another again.

Intellectually, I understand mental disorders.  Emotionally, I’m at a loss.

This is what I know: Narcissists don’t love you.  They won’t ever love you.  They won’t change, because they don’t see a need to be any different than what they are.  And knowing you’ve been lied too about the very thing that empaths desire most, which is love, hurts more than anything else I can think of.

Professor K

2 thoughts on “Empaths…

  1. I understand all of these things, for I have felt each one of them. In my case it was a little different. I love just as you describe, and I poured all that love into my relationship with my ex-wife. The difference was that no matter how much I gave, no matter how devoted I was to her, her reaction was always, “it is not enough.” I gave and gave and gave, but always “it is not enough.” What she wanted was for me to only have her and nothing else. No friends, no money, no career, only her, and she would love me in whatever way she wanted to, but I had to always be totally devoted in everyway only to her in all things.

    It is impossible not to have friends, or to care about other people, but every time I did something that was not showing my totally devotion only to her I was punished and told what a terrible person I am. I did everything I could to give her what she wanted and it left me an empty, broken shell of a person, and it still was not good enough. When I would try to talk about how unhappy and lonely I was I was told I was just being selfish and cruel to her, because she was a good person and I was not being loyal enough to her. In other words it was all my fault because I was not a good enough husband.

    I keep saying you can not win with a narcissist so don’t even try, but it is hard not to try just one more time. Hard not to try to get them to see, but they don’t want to see. I am slowly beginning to accept that to her it will never be enough and she will ever only see me as a dirty, dishonest unfaithful person who choose to cheat on her rather than be a good, faithful husband.


  2. Pingback: Empaths… — Out of the Trap… | World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum.

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