For empaths who find themselves in the role of being the emotional advocate for a dissociated person, it is very hard to break out of this cycle. However, becoming aware of the dynamic between the empath and the dissociated can start the shift. Calling someone who is severely dissociated on his behavior hardly ever works—they feel too threatened and will either withdraw, attack, or go into denial. In less extreme cases the empath is better off explaining that her own emotional health is in jeopardy, and for her own sake, she must leave the relationship if the dynamic does not change.
In some cases, departing from the relationship is not necessary if the empath can successfully create the energetic emotional boundary by not processing the dissociated person’s energy. In this way, the empath takes full responsibility for her own energy system, and with her words and actions begins to grow proper boundaries with the others in her life.
We have all become processors for other people’s emotional energy by choice. A healthy example of this would be a man and woman coming together to share their lives. Under ideal conditions, both people are aware and independent of the other. They make a conscious choice to share their emotional energy in the form of support—they make the choice to become emotionally interdependent, with healthy limits to this dependency. Most of us have not been raised to be emotionally healthy, and so we can easily become stuck in unhealthy emotionally dependent relationships. A drastic example of this relationship is the spouse of the alcoholic who never leaves because she thinks the alcoholic cannot survive without her support.
But, many of us do not live in these extremes. We are all somewhat healthy with a few blind spots. Some of us are emotionally dissociated with only certain emotions, like anger. If one partner is comfortable with handling anger, and the other partner is not, the tendency is for the more adept partner to work all the anger for the couple. In my own life, I had this very experience with my husband. My husband comes from a family that does not express its anger well. In fact, anger is usually repressed or ignored entirely. In my original family, anger was expressed all the time. I learned how to be angry from my family, but my husband did not.
At one point my husband became very angry with a few of his family members, but he was not willing to handle it given his family programming. Since I was empathic, and I had no problems with anger, his anger naturally became a part of my energy system. The effect was I was irrationally enraged with his family members, and could not figure out why. My husband couldn’t figure out why I was so mad, especially since he wasn’t angry at all. This led to a lot of useless strife between us.
When the usual methods for resolving conflict did not work, I began to ask myself if this anger was really mine. When it became apparent that it was my husbands, we had a long talk about his willingness to be angry. He admitted that he was not comfortable with anger. We did some soul retrieval work around anger and confrontation to release him from much of his family programming. Then, I set the intention that any of his anger that was in my system would travel back to him on my breath. I literally blew his anger back into his body.
Almost immediately my husband felt his anger, and he did not like the discomfort of the emotion. That very discomfort led him to confront his family members, which eventually led to a mending of one relationship. The air was cleared, and true enjoyment of the relationship was restored. What was strange for me was that I was not angry any longer at his family. Now, whenever I become angry regarding something related to my husband, I ask if it’s my husband’s or if it is mine. Even after this incident, and its successful resolution, I still find myself taking on his anger for him.
Staying in our own energy, in our own “stuff”, is a practice for empaths. And it is a practice for my husband to not push his anger away onto the closest empath. As partners we help each other overcome and retrain ourselves out of a very bad habit. This willingness to stay conscious is what eventually will help us both heal and grow. My husband has the opportunity to learn how to handle emotions that have been uncomfortable for him, and I have more opportunity to practice not processing energy for him.
Many empaths take on the energy of others, thinking that they are helping. In most cases, this is not true. We all need our emotional energy—it is literally the fuel of life. It also gives us access to our internal feedback system. If we take someone’s emotional energy, ultimately we are disempowering them. In my case, I was taking my husband’s energy, keeping him from learning how to empower himself with anger, and I was making myself ill by trying to process his foreign energy. Empaths must learn that helping others does not mean running someone else’s pain, grief, anger, or fear for them. Those emotions have specific purposes and are needed to have a successful and ultimately happy life.