I was hoping, when I started this post, that I would have an epiphany about my behavior and stop doing it; but instead, I ended up justifying myself, like always. I’m publishing it anyhow because maybe someone in the blogosphere will point me in the right direction.
Yesterday, I shared an article about why Highly Sensitive People get involved with narcissists, addicts, and other kinds of ‘takers’.
Here is where I personally resonate:
The HSP’s sensitivity to other people’s feelings means it can feel wrong to say no.
We think since we can feel it, we must do something about it.
I believe it is a gift to be able to tell when other people are suffering.
It is also a gift to be able to tell when other people have an unmet need. (For example, “Do you need a hug?”)
When a dirty, smelly, homeless guy asks me for money, it bothers me that I can’t give him $1000.
When a mangy stray kitten rubs up against my legs and mews for attention, I feel terrible that I can’t take him home.
(I can tell when people are suffering and I want to do something about it.)
This is not a bad trait. I love justice and pursue it.
But, do I (the sensitive, caring empath) have a responsibility to fix the person’s problem?
The author of this article says NO. She says to let people make their own mistakes, let them learn to solve their own problems, and let them increase their self-esteem and self-love in the process.
It looks good in print, and sounds like a good idea. But how many empaths are capable of that? We are total buttinskys. If I know that I can prevent someone’s pain, how could I not get involved? For example, when I see someone being bullied, I step in and defend the underdog. I never hesitate. I have pushed myself right in before I can even think it over. (Let me just say that this does not go over too well at work.)
I am proud of myself for paying attention to other people’s needs and trying to do something about them.
This totally backfired when I got involved with a narcissist (or two).
My ex-husband, *Driftwood, could not express himself. He would start to stutter and then he would throw an all out tantrum like a 2-yr old child. He used to stomp his feet and throw things. Ah, the happy days of marriage. I used to speak for him so that he would not embarrass us in front of company. Then after we broke up, some people didn’t believe me that he behaved like that. I hid it, so why should they believe such a crazy story?
And my David. I made myself sick trying to get him to make healthier choices. Like all narcissists, he was constantly either getting evicted or fired, or in the hospital or in the psych ward, or involved in family drama or out of money. Crisis after crisis after crisis… and they were mostly all preventable. Narcissists are constantly making trouble for themselves.
So if I could so obviously see the solutions and he couldn’t, how was I supposed to stand by while he was suffering?
I am beginning to learn (from my research) that because I am highly sensitive to other people’s needs, I lack boundaries. I have a hard time knowing when to stop giving. Sometimes they want me to stop mothering them and I can’t. Sometimes they don’t stop taking from me even though I am in danger. Now I have a headache. Why is it so hard just to be loved and give love in return? (The Beatles)
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