I grew up with parents that were damaged and couldn't have empathy for me. I believe they love me in the best way they can, but it's not like healthy people. I, on the other hand, being an empath, find that I have too much empathy for my kids and it hurts them and me. I wish I could turn it down and find a happy medium.
A few months ago, my son grown had a bout of depression that had him fearing for his safety. We had him come stay with us for a bit and helped him get on meds and get the help he needed. The night he came to us so distressed, though, I was so upset by his pain, I was just shaking and I couldn't sleep all night or for a few nights and I had trauma symptoms for a few weeks after that. I tried to fake that I was totally fine so I could be there for him, but it was obvious, I was rattled.
My not-grown daughter came to me last week with the same problem (it runs in our family). I was jarred again. She is an empath and was upset talking to me about it because she could see that I could feel and accidentally mirror what she was going through. We got her help right away, too. Last night she had what I think might be an adjustment period to the meds and had a bad night. I tried to keep cool to help her, but I wasn't fooling her. When she was better enough that we could all go to bed, I was shaky and off and woke up every few minutes with nightmares all night. Now it's morning and I feel like I ran a marathon in my sleep or something. I'm afraid I wan't be able to handle it if she has another bad evening.
It's so frustrating to not be able to turn off all that empathy and be there for your kids without your own empathy getting in the way. When I had kids, I knew I wanted to understand them for who they are and honor their individual journeys and have empathy for them as people, because I felt I didn't get a lot of that growing up and I felt every person deserves it. It feels like sometimes it goes too far, though. I don't want to be one of those useless moms who falls apart when her kids need her most. I've been able to keep it together for them, but I definitely fall apart later. I just needed to vent, so I can get up and help my daughter in whatever way she needs today and hopefully keep myself together in the process.
updated by @sarah: 01/09/17 12:52:07AM