Being an Empath is hard, it’s a time where you meet with family, and sometimes those connections can get overwhelming. I think much of this has to do with our hard line and that family connections are sticky and rather permanent. I think some of this has to do with familial love expectations and the human tendency to let other people down without intention.
If you are like me when dealing in familial matters you stay towards the bottom of the needs chain, go along to get along, and provide support to those who have immediate need of you. I always put myself last; some of this has to do with Rules #1 (Don’t be that guy) and #2 (Control your Controllables). These two bits of sage advice keep me out of most of the harm that this world has delivered me in my past, but they make me a bit too careful, and a bit too quite at times.
So with all that said, how do you deal with your own love expectations within the holiday timeframe? Even more importantly: how do you take a backseat to, and love / support those in your family willing to be that guy / gal to get their love expectations met? I’ll be honest here, this is where I’m struggling, this is the source of the article, and these are the questions I don’t have an answer for, so I’m going to walk into this conversation without a plan and everything that follows is me personally walking through a process of reasoning with current pain points.
I’m going to address the hard line piece of this with some confidence as I pick up everything and although connections with parents, sisters and brothers can sometimes wane, in my experience they never truly go away. My best piece of advise is to try and sneak away for that needed bit of me time. Gyms, pools, tracks, libraries are everywhere and most of them have a day rate. It’s worth the money for a bit of solitude, so find your space and time to disappear, and allow some of the connection to dissipate while you distract yourself and provide calm. You may have to preplan a bit because not all facilities will be open, but taking your most recent book to the car and reading for an hour in a vacant parking lot with the heater on full blast can be better than the bombardment of emotion and the 20 year old bed that makes you back hurt. When you get back to your place, utilize your rituals and tools developed in your own home to destress. It’s truly good to have your own bed. I get back to my routines as quickly as possible. I also like to utilize an ionic bath with Epsom salts to detox by body. These things help to re-establish baseline.
Ok, now for the love expectations. Families fight over this all of the time, and it’s usually pent up energy from past slights that have not been resolved. Instead of resolution they have been ignored and distanced, but all of those feelings have now come back in a flood of emotion as that individual is standing face to face across a kitchen counter, and all of a sudden you can’t stand how they are chewing that cookie. Fight or flight takes over and you burst or bolt. This get’s even more difficult if there’s a baby in the mix getting passed around, although maybe not equally due to prior set familial bonds. The best way though, is directly through. If it’s a fight that leads to a conversation, then so be it, it’ll clear the air a bit. One thing about family is that they can’t technically leave you forever because next year, most likely you’ll be watching them eat another cookie. So, bring it up, try to stay cool and lean into the conversation with, “it really hurts me when …”, then acknowledge your own shortcomings around love expectations with something like, “I realize my expectations are high around spending time with….”
I’d like to make a point about communication and psychology, to remember that is very important about family; if there is a “but” in the sentence, everything after that “but” word is the true message, and everything in front of “but” is because they love you and want to soften the blow. Sometimes this is what you’ll get and it’s important to see the before “but” statements as love. The after “but” statements might hurt, but it’s important to not overreact because communication and family is a two way street and even I choose to not be last in the family dynamics by force. I want to reside my place as a foundational block by choice and try to keep the peace. That’s tough to do when you are taking on everyone, and the energy is high or heated. So let’s try and have those conversations in 2022.
By the rambling nature of the text above you can see that I’m still in the middle of this one a bit, it’s not fully sketched out, but I think it’s important. If I were the version of myself from 20 years ago, this would be a poem and a broken journal entry that would take up pages of incoherent ranting, but in effort to help both you and I, I’m blogging it. I hope you appreciate these efforts as I hope our families appreciate our efforts as Empaths naturally tuned into love and support over the current and future holiday seasons.
Much love Empaths, be strong but not too strong,
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Lilla Watson, an Australian Aboriginal Elder