For most of my early years, I had difficulty recognizing when I felt pain that resulted from someone else’s words or actions. Because I am an Empath, in my younger years, I was always in pain and despair, with a heavy dose of loneliness and sadness. I faked it, though. I pretended I was happy. All the time.
By the time I hit my 30’s, everyone around me continued to tell me, “Angie, you are such an angry person.” I couldn’t see it. I had faked happiness for so long, I had tricked myself into believing that pain, despair, sadness, loneliness, and an undercurrent of ever-present anger was how happiness felt.
As I opened up to the Consciousness movement, I heard the oft-repeated words, “No one can ‘make you’ feel anything,” and I would be really confused. If no one can *make me* feel anything, then this really IS all my own doing. Right? That pain… I always made it about me in the first place, but now they were saying that it really was all about me, that *I* was the source of that pain and therefore *I* had to resolve it on my own. If no one can “make me” feel anything, then *I* had to be the one that was… what? What was I? Broken? Wrong? Weak? Overdramatic? If someone’s actions or words cut me to the core and caused pain, that wasn’t about them… it was about me. Right? Wrong? What the hell… It confused me.
I was hearing that “no one could ‘make me’ feel anything,” and I was getting lost in those words, internalizing them as one more thing I had to be responsible for, when I had spent my entire life being over-responsible for everyone. I had spent my entire life being completely out of integrity, reading everyone’s energy, and determining how to “make them” happy so I could feel at peace. It never worked, but I kept doing it, all while trying to ignore that people were actually being really mean and hurtful to me! I couldn’t see it because their abuse, their meanness, their downright spiteful behaviors had, in my mind, somehow become something *I* could fix, something *I* could do something about.
Somewhere, deep inside me, I was aware that the pain I constantly felt was not my core essence – so how could that pain be… me? – But there I was, in pain, and utterly lost in it. I understood on a primal level that I *chose* my response to the emotions I experienced, but my instantaneous emotional sensations came from something much more primordial than my human self. Emotional response is a naturally occurring phenomenon, but I was trying to make it a controllable situation, something about which I had power over.
My own emotional experience wasn’t mine because I wasn’t feeling ME; I was feeling the entire world. Every emotion I experienced was clouded with everyone else, but I couldn’t see that. I knew intuitively that I had a right to feel and that humans were designed to feel, but I couldn’t figure out why ANY human would want to hurt me – or anyone else. Because I saw through eyes of Love and Goodness, I believed that every human was that – Loving, Good. But, damn! It sure hurt when those humans actually behaved humanly and hurt me, willfully even. And still, I made that emotional response something that was only mine to deal with.
Emotions ARE naturally occurring responses for humans. And I knew that what I did with them… well… *that* was where my choice came in. But, the pain that began the instant a loved one barked at me, hit me, or used sarcasm to wound me… well THAT pain was something that needed to be honored, to be heard, to have amends made for it… I had to recognize that the pain was coming from a source outside of me – not inside of me… which was really confusing, since I feel everything inside of me. Once I learned how to recognize what was mine and what was everyone else’s, it took me a long time to understand that, when I am hurting as a result of someone else’s actions or words, it IS okay for me to speak up about that.
It took me even longer to understand that some people will refuse to be accountable about the pain they’ve caused because of their words and actions. No amount of me “fixing myself” is going to change their words and actions, however. These people have lost sight of the healing power of these simple words: “I am so sorry I hurt you. How can I make this right?” That is all it takes to become accountable in this sort of situation – actually recognizing that *they* behaved hurtfully, asking to make amends, and THEN ACTUALLY TAKING ACTION ON THAT. But, if they are unwilling to get accountable and actually stop doing/saying hurtful things, that is when the relationship devolves into the abuse cycle. That was so hard for me to recognize… that *I* had complete command of the abuse cycle. That, when I chose to speak up and then experienced the person not hearing me, followed by the same painful, ongoing behaviors and words… it is THEN that *I* have to choose differently.
When I finally allowed myself to stand up for myself, speak out, and then leave the relationship if the other person refused to get accountable, I finally came to understand that it is up to ME to end the cycle of abuse in my own life. When I gave myself permission to live a pain-and-abuse-free life and did one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do – leave several adult relationships that were regularly cycling abuse – I began to see that choosing me first felt unnatural but, with practice, it has become more comfortable. And, the longer I practice it, the more I am able to see that it is still one of the most difficult paths for me, but… as I continue to walk it, I am discovering it IS the most pain-free path… and the most fulfilling one.