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Cut Off at the Knees

Thoughts on not allowing people to bring us down in their pain.

Where are all of my empaths at? Not sure? Okay, here. I’ll post a photo, and if you cry or make the sound, “OHHHHHHHH!”, you are an empath.

Now that I know where you are, I want you to see this post is probably for you. Although, it may apply to a few others too. As an empath, I know that we are deep feelers. Almost painfully so. We’re the ones that risk our lives when there’s a live animal on the road. Even though our brains tell us it’s highly likely we could get seriously injured by stopping to help. It doesn’t matter. Our hearts speak much louder than our brains in just such instances.

My last boneheaded incident in which this happened was when I saw a female deer in the turn lane of a five-lane BUSY road who had obviously been hit but was still alive. I turned my car around and headed straight for her. The problem was she was too heavy to carry to the side of the road. All I could do was cry and sit with her. Um, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. I know. I know. It’s stupid. But I thought to myself, hey, if this is how I was meant to go out, then so be it!

I was saved when another crying empath pulled up on the other side of her, and together we cried and carried her off the road. Then a man and his wife came to our rescue and “helped” the deer. We’ll leave that story right there. But before he did, I screamed in a panic at him, “YOU HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL I LEAVE!!” The other lady screamed it too. So we ran back to the middle of the road to our cars.

I was in my workout clothes and was initially headed to the grocery store. I don’t think I had adequately processed the entire event until I was in the meat section of the grocery and my guy randomly calls me. I looked down and realized I had blood all over me. All I could do was wail! Um, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GROCERY STORE.

I think most people with a heart that’s actually beating would do the same.

But, for empaths. Shit. That’s stuff burns into our brain so hard. I’ll never be able to shake it.

I can’t watch any nature show. EVER! Something will get eaten, and all I can do is think about their children. And if something doesn’t get eaten, then it will get chased, and we will assume it gets eaten. I freak the freak-out. I spare myself the pain and watch true crime stories where only humans get murdered, which oddly enough doesn’t affect me at all. I blame the menopause.


Being an empath, a deep feeler, and a people pleaser, you can imagine how that could be manipulated a time or two. But, for the longest time, I couldn’t see it. If you wanted to control me, all you had to do was “make me” feel bad about something, and I would whip myself in line!

Now, I still do it, BUT at least I KNOW I’m doing it. (I kid! A little.)

I have to fight against it my natural urges because it’s just the nature of some people to want you to “feel bad” and drag you down to their level.

And why pray tell would anyone want you to “feel bad”?

Because they feel bad. Even if they can’t or won’t admit it.

I hate throwing my parents under the bus because I think it comes across as blaming them and not taking any responsibility for my life. Ready for a big but?

BUT, my mom was good at this. She could be a lovely woman. She didn’t like herself very much. Even though my father was a complete ass and classic lothario, she stayed with him. It was easier than leaving. I completely get that. I did that too. Eventually, she did go, and she grew into this beautiful best version of herself for a small window of time.

The tricky thing with me and my mom’s relationship was that if I started to feel good about myself, she had to find a way to stop it. OFF AT THE KNEES! She would go and cut me down to size. Because of the empath in me, she didn’t even have to punish me. She could guilt me, and I would punish myself enough for the both of us. It’s as if my success or happiness was some threat to her.

I see a lot of myself in my mom. I think her life serves as a cautionary tale for me. She gave up on life and locked herself away. She stopped being brave. She wrapped herself in her comfort zone, and I mean literally. She maybe left her house a couple of times a year toward the end. I can see the appeal to that these days!

Recently, someone I love dearly has been going through one of the most challenging times of their life. The empath in me hurts for them. Truly. Ready for another big but? BUT, I knew from experience something was coming. I knew the tide was about to turn and that the ire of emotion would soon be cast my way. And it was. OFF AT THE KNEES! It was as if, How dare you be okay and feel good when I don’t?

My Modus Operandi is to think, Oh my god, you’re right. What a piece of shit I am. How dare I?

But alas, I poo-poo in the general direction of your silent requests. I don’t mean that in a gloating way at all. I’m not saying, “OH WHEW, THANK GOD IT’S YOU AND NOT ME!”

As an empath, I don’t have to take on your dark feelings. I don’t have to carry your depression. I don’t have to beat myself up or feel like shit to be able to empathize with your situation. I’m leaning heavily on the “YOUR” part. I am so sorry for your difficulty. I know pain comes to all of us, and I am sorry that it’s your turn. And yes, I will cry with you. I will hurt with you. I will do my best to love you and be there for you. And the biggest but of all, BUT I will not become the patsy for your pain. I won’t accept the blame. I won’t beat myself up. It won’t make you feel any better at all. Even if you tell yourself it does.

I’ve lashed out at people when I’ve been in pain. So, I completely understand that too. But, I try to be mindful not to pass my pain on to anyone now and work diligently to feel it and allow it to process and pass. Like a giant burrito that I just ate! Give it time. Feel the pain. Let it pass.

And so, I stand up and dust my knees off and offer outstretched arms ready to hold and help.

As an empath, or anyone really, you can be there for other people. The trick is to remember you have to be there for yourself too.

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