I was asked about the line between empathy and maintaining my boundaries in a relationship.
I can only be empathetic when the space is safe.
A safe space is a place where I can fully express my desires, fears, and needs. It doesn’t mean that everything happens according to my will; it simply means that I have the freedom to be my authentic self, open, and uncomplicated.
A safe space is where I can clearly define my boundaries, and those I am with respect them as they are.
If the space is not safe and I choose to be empathetic, it becomes an emotionally violent space, a space that perpetuates trauma and self-harm.
Creating a safe space is a two-fold process:
Firstly, internally, I am committed to being honest, open, and real with myself.
Secondly, externally, I listen and assess what is feasible for me to give and receive within the relationship.
If my boundaries are crossed, it is my responsibility to myself to pause and re-evaluate everything. I need to ask for clearer boundaries and test them again.
If who I am is not respected, and I am not allowed to think and feel differently and simply be myself, it is again, my responsibility to pause and re-evaluate everything. I need to ask for clearer boundaries and test them again.
A relationship is a gradual growing capacity of listening, empathy, honesty, physical presence, and closeness. While it holds infinite potential, not everyone I encounter truly nurtures me.
The ability to distinguish between beneficial relationships and those that are not, is a skill acquired through a deep connection and relation to our innermost self.