Pulling people in and pushing people away

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Sarah
@sarah
2 years ago
386 posts

One thing I am learning about myself as an empath is that I sometimes keep people at arms length and I feel claustrophobic and push away when people try and get too close. although I'm an introvert, I am also a people person. It's easy for me to love people and make friends and all that. At the same time, I think I tend to keep people at arms length more than others do. I get overwhelmed if a friendship starts feeling too close because I guess it starts to feel like people are plowing over me or taking too much of my energy, even when they are giving and being kind.

I am having kind of an issue with a friend right now. She is a wonderful person. She is brave and strong and fun and caring, but as an empath, I can also see that she sort of helps others as a way to turn the focus away from herself and her own issues, like she is everyone's cheerleader, whether or not they need one, and that way she can turn the focus away from her own hard things. That doesn't matter to me. I can see most people's struggles and I would never not be friends with them for those unless they were dangerous or damaging or something.

At the same time, I'm starting to get a little stressed out by her. A few months ago, she started sending me presents every few weeks (we live in different states, but we were neighbors ten years ago), big, lavish, pretty wonderful and thoughtful presents, but it is too much for me. As much as I love presents and she is very good at giving them, more than one or two year is too much and I feel obligated and uncomfortable when I come home from work and there is another one. I told her to stop spoiling me, but I'm not sure she understood that it makes me feel uncomfortable. I think she thinks I'm just being modest or something. Also, she said she's had friends tell her that before. I don't think she understands how it feels on the other end, if that makes sense.

She also messages me with bubbling, flattering, emotional messages a bunch of times a day. She says she's my cheerleader. I don't need a cheerleader. She started commenting on almost all my Facebook posts (which I post a lot, so she must follow me all day long) about how we are going to go on trips together and she wishes she could come over every day and all that. It's her language and her way, but it stresses me out, even though I know she doesn't mean it literally.

Yesterday she bought a plane ticket to come visit me next month. I will be glad to see her, but I had to tell her that I don't have her energy level, and I have an anxiety disorder that makes it hard for me to just run all over the state and do a million things. Also, I have a family and two jobs, so I don't have a ton of spare time or energy or even health this time of year, so please take it easy on me when you come out.

I realized how stressed out she is making me when today my daughter got stomach flu and was very sick all morning. I felt sick, too, but not like my daughter. When this friend started messaging me with gushing messages about healing and hoping I am well and all that, I felt really cranky. I wanted to tell her to stop it right now and be her own cheerleader and leave me alone for five seconds. I felt guilty for feeling that because I think she has no idea it is overwhelming to me, and she is just trying to show love. She is truly a guileless person. I guess it feels to me like she is a dog kind of energy who just loves and supports and protects and is there for you, and wants to run and play and jump and fetch and all that, but I'm a cat energy. I'll come up and nuzzle you for a minute, then I need to go hide under the bed and have space. If someone tries to pull me out when I'm in my safe place, even if I love them, my instinct is to scratch and run away.

All of this makes her sound like a crazy, stalky, codependent friend. I do think there is an element of codependence there, but also, it is making me realize that I don't have the ability really to have very close friends, and I will just push them away if they get too close. I've done it before with people who are very good to me and for me. I have a few very good friends and most of them don't even live in state. I have many friends who live here, but I can ignore them for long periods of time, especially while I've been going through this awakening. I think I've always done that, though, just go through social spurts, then retreat for way too long.

I'm in a transition place now where I am leaving my old church community and building a new community, and I'm having a hard time reaching out, and if someone reaches out to me like this friend, I'll just push them away. I know I'm probably just needing more retreating time with my awakening, and I'm not ready to really rebuild the social stuff yet, but this friend is really showing me a pattern in myself that I don't like, but I don't know what to do with. Do any of you Empaths do the same? Don't worry, I will set some firmer boundaries with this friend. It has been good for me, though, to learn about a part of myself I need to work on. I just wonder if this is an Empath thing or just me.


updated by @sarah: 01/15/17 02:37:19PM
Gin S
@gin-s
2 years ago
225 posts

I don't know if it is what you should do but as I read your post I felt that maybe you could use a holiday away to be someone else for a bit. Go somewhere that people don't know you and just let loose a bit without worrying what others will think.

I have trouble trusting people so I tend to have trouble letting them in as well. But I do believe in communication. You can think of a gentle way to express your needs if something makes you uncomfortable. Unfortunately people don't always hear you until they can see it with their own eyes and even then they don't always understand us. I go through spurts too where I feel like socializing or not socializing and no one seems to understand it. They expect that I will keep contact all the time but sometimes I do need a break from people. The world just doesn't seem to allow that kind of thing for me. If I pull away for a bit then that friend is gone. A lot of my friendships have ended that way. I call them every time and then when I don't call they just let me go instead of helping keep the relationship alive by calling me for a change.

I understand needing alone time and not wanting to feel obligated. Maybe if you told her you just need to slow things down and can't keep up with all the communication at the moment. I think everyone needs a break once in a while.

Sarah
@sarah
2 years ago
386 posts

That's good advise. I actually think I really do need that time away that you mentioned right now. I'm going to have to think of a way I can do that and do that often. I think it would help me. Good luck to us both on those pulling away things.

Gin S
@gin-s
2 years ago
225 posts

I am really glad if it helps. Good luck, I hope you find a way to make this work :)

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