My First Spiritual Awakening • Escaping the Empath-Narcissist Trap

When I started as a freedompreneur, I didn't know I was seeking freedom at the intersection of: entrepreneurship, enlightenment and enchantment. For years, I drifted like a moth to light to people and places that I couldn't rationally explain. No one could.

Then I stumbled on a book about embodied enlightenment, which helped me discerned the difference between:

  • the feminine paradigm of awakening: accessing the light and drawing it into the human body to be of service here on Earth, and
  • the masculine paradigm of enlightenment: merging with light, ditching the lame-ass human body, and floating to the great beyond, "See ya suckers🖕🖕, good luck!"

Patriarchy made me believe that there is one, and only one, way to become enlightened: to sit isolated on a frigid mountain top until you vanish into the light. Umm, no thanks.

This book helped me forget Buddha and his Bodhi Tree. Forget Luke Skywalker and his floating cape at the end of The Last Jedi.

Within the feminine paradigm of accessing the light, the memory of my first awakening dawned on me. I didn't even know it was a spiritual awakening when it happened. Heck, I didn't even know I had a soul until a few years ago! 

Fast-Forward Film Strip

I remember it like it was 30 seconds ago. I was sitting on my lavender coloured sheets, leaning against the fluffy matching pillows, embroidered with violet vines.

I was watching the dust particles waltz in the beam of sunlight that poured into my bedroom, through the purple satin curtains that I custom-made for those windows. I felt happy. <cue bum-bum-bum ominous music>

Right at that moment, my friend Whitney called. We had just become friends after meeting at aerial yoga class, after bonding over having both just moved to this brand new city, twelve timezones away from home. She jumped right in, "I know we haven't known each other very long, and I hope to keep our friendship, but there's something important I need to tell you." She was 10 years older and felt genuinely kind, so I let her speak freely.

The night before, she invited me and the narcissist over for dinner. And she shared that after we left, during pillow talk, her hubby asked, “Who is this fool? Is he for real?” Anytime her husband asked about "your guys' plans"(plural), the narcissistic fool would answer, "Depends on where my career goes" or "We'll see what I feel like at that point" or "I'll have to factor in my stage of life." Basically, me, me, me, I, I, I.

After I reviewed a myriad of his papers, fluffed him up at work functions, rehearsed his career presentations too many times to count, moved halfway around the world for his professional advancement, moulded his character from dorky to charismatic, and created a warm and beautiful home for us, never once did he include me in our plans.

"You ok?" she asked. "I'm ok, Whitney, I'll call you back." As soon as I hung up the phone, I saw a film strip flash by my left temple. The film reel was spinning in fast-forward, flashing scenes from my future with the narcissist: I'm 41, menopausal, a single mom, raising a kid that I didn't even want (but had because he thought it'd be "fun"), a toxic ex-husband whom I could never ever get rid of, hating my life, arid inside and haggard outside.

When You Just Know

Before I realized it, my fingers were on the laptop, having booked a one-way flight home. 

At that age, everyone around me was getting married, popping out babies and running the circuit: IKEA, Toys ‘R Us, Home Depot, IKEA, Toys ‘R Us, Home Depot, IKEA, Toys ‘R Us, Home Depot. Me, I didn't want to run that circuit.

There was no pro/con list (at the time my hyper-rational saboteur couldn't live without pro/con lists!), no talking it out with a girlfriend, no polling some family members, no inner war, no second guessing, no guilt, no delusional naivety that I could change/heal him, and most important of all, no discussion with the narcissist himself.

(Just google "empath narcissist trap" and you'll see an over abundance of sadistic dynamics the narcissist uses to control the empath.)

As a minimalist, it only took one day to pack. I gave him his keys back and walked away with my head held high. I just knew.  I just knew to walk away and never turn back.


Timing And Unfolding

It'd be 15 months later that I even stumbled on the term narcissist: an exceptionally self-absorbed person, incapable of empathy, manipulating others to cater to selfish agenda of grandiosity, admiration, and special treatment.

It'd be another year and 5 months until I even heard of the term HSP for Highly Sensitive Person, and another 4 months until I even heard of the term empath. 

It'd be another 3 years and 8 months until I learned about the empath-narcissist trap, when I was researching Attachment Styles (secure, anxious and avoidant). I had no idea that I had fallen into such a trap and endured prolonged mental and emotional abuse, which you can't see as purple bruises because they are on the inside.

It'd be another 7 months after that, when I read about Sacred Contracts, that my mind was blown, "Oh. My. God. THAT was divine intervention! The no pro/con list, no polling, no discussion, just a one-way flight outta there. THAT was divine intervention!!!"

It'd be another year and 4 months until I realized that that "I just knew" was soul-knowing. I just knew to trust the purity of the knowing. I just knew to chose the unknown over the crystal clear certainty of a future I already hated.

That's the power of soul-knowing, it guides us to unravel every strand of our life, from home country, language, and currency, to plug adapters, area codes, and bus routes, to hobbies, career and community. It's like a 7.0 earthquake that you can't go back to sleep from.

Let's just admit it out loud, spiritual awakening is inconvenient

Soul-knowing is the wind beneath the leap of faith. Who knew?!?

For a Season, a Reason or a Lifetime

What fascinates me most is that after that fateful phone call with Whitney, we vanished from each other's solar system. I'm the queen of keeping in touch, but it was as if as a guardian angel, she descended into my life, completed our Sacred Contract, and ascended back into thin air.

We were both masterful at staying in touch, but somehow, the red thread keeping us tethered had been cut. We were complete. Gosh, it is true what they say about people coming into our life for a season, a reason or a lifetime.

The narcissist was for a season, Whitney was for a reason, and neither were meant for a lifetime. Woah, definitely a "red pill" from the Matrix moment.

Along the way, I met that film strip future self in Michelle (empath), 41, menopausal, a single mom, raising a kid that she didn't really want (but had because her husband thought it'd be "fun"). As I watched her go through a gnarly 3-year long divorce with her husband (narcissist), I dropped to my knees grateful that I dodged the BIGGEST bullet of my life.

Can you imagine the cataclysmic financial, emotional, psychological, physical, energetic and time siphons I would have experienced had I married him?!? 👎 😱  I thrive today because, a million and a half years ago, I soul-knew to protect my financial assets, creative mojo and spiritual light, by walking away.


Looking back, what was your first moment of awakening?
(Even if at the time you may not have know that it was spiritual awakening.)

Live fierce and free,

xo, Ella

(First Published Sep 24, 2019)



Having navigated 131 countries, 87 emotions, 46.5 traumas, and 16 careers, Ellany Lea inspires and guides phoenixes, overachievers, entrepreneurs and wayshowers to live fierce, fulfilled and free.