I get my feelings hurt sometimes. Yes, I’m human. I’m fragile.
Don’t confuse my strong will with numbness.
Don’t confuse my positive outlook with complacency.
Don’t confuse my outspokenness with arrogance.
Just because I have shown myself able to handle even the most difficult situations in life, it doesn’t mean I don’t breakdown. It doesn’t mean I don’t question myself.
I need empathy, just like the next guy.
The dictionary defines empathy as: Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives.
Then the dictionary says:
Which at first ticked me off, because who wants pity? But I looked it up anyway and it says this:
Pity: Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another.
Pity then sends you over to compassion.
Compassion: Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.
I am not a robot. I need these things sometimes.
Do I want people constantly patting me on the back, telling me they are so sorry for the life I live?
Do I want people looking at me, shaking their heads wondering how I ever do it?
But don’t tell me that what I go through and what my children go through is no big deal.
Don’t tell me to get over it.
And for goodness sakes, don’t keep your distance from me because you don’t understand what I am going through, or because you don’t know what to say.
Or because you think I don’t need you… because I am so strong.
I need a measure of empathy. A small measure of understanding.
I have a friend. She has a son that has seizures. Not just once in a while. They are all day, every day. Because of this she home schools the rest of her kids. She cannot leave him. Her life revolves around her son. In turn, her life does not exist. Her family suffers. And as a mother, her suffering is intense. To have to watch your child go through something like that? He is growing into a young man, but is like a 3 year old. He can’t speak. He cannot control his bodily functions. The ambulance came to her house four times last year. Each seizure she is forced to wonder, “Is this it? Will he live through this one?”
And she is on the edge.
I spoke to her recently. She is able to speak to me a little about it, because she can see that my situation, although not nearly as upsetting, is somewhat similar. Because generally, people do not understand the strain a chronic illness can put on a mothers psyche.
People think she is so strong and capable, that they choose not to see that she is vulnerable and that she is hurting.
Some think she is bitter. When really all she is doing is surviving. She needs to be strong.
The bottom line is: if she is not strong, all is lost.
I think it is with any situation. Loss of job or financial trouble. Death of a loved one or sickness of a family member. Cancer or diabetes. It comes with the territory: If you are not living it, you cannot truly understand the pain.
So what can one do?
See past the wall.
Love. Hug. support. Repeat.
And try not to compare. Just because someones situation "could be worse," or doesn't seem like the end of the world to you...dosn't mean what a person is going through isn't devastating or heartbreaking to them.
Just because someone handles something brilliantly 90% of the time, does not mean this someone doesn’t break down and feel alone in life sometimes.
Strong people need to know that they are loved too. Small words, small gestures...can hurt strong people. In turn small words or small gestures can lift up strong people.
Maybe you do not understand why a person acts, or handles things a certain way. Maybe this person is strong, or annoying, or brash. But regardless...this person needs to know you care.
They just need to know. And that is why I blog. That is why I facebook. Because when I write that we were up all night with high blood sugars…I get responses from people who care. Maybe they don’t totally understand, but they say things to me like, “I’m sorry.” Or “That must have been awful!” Or “Yes! I was up all night with my daughter…I totally know what you went through!” Or maybe they say something funny to lighten the mood. It isn’t mindless drivel about my day.
It is what I need, and probably what everyone in the world needs…A small measure of understanding.