Trying to stop the empathy
I believe that it is because down deep we tend to be people pleasers. I feel the same way when I have to tell someone no and exercise my boundaries. Just last night I had to reinforce my boundaries....I have felt great all day even though I didn't get a good nights sleep due to worrying that I might have been too hard on the person, even though they had it coming. I was kind, understanding and listened to what they had to say but I put and end to the using. Still that feeling bad for not caving to them was there. I just chalk it up to our compassionate nature. You are definitely not alone on this one. We do have to take care of ourselves first....you cannot pour from an empty cup.