two hundred & fifty five: sympathy

i don’t remember how old i was when i realized that there was a difference between sympathy and empathy, but i do remember that i identified strongly with empathy versus sympathy. to me, it seems that sympathy is a sort of passive, removed, unembodied pity for someone else’s misfortune or pain, while empathy is actually sharing in the experience of their feelings. i don’t know if we can always control how we feel, or how removed we are from feeling it. but to me, sympathy reeks of condescension, privilege, and almost like a show of emotion that is for the consumption of other people. like, oh i feel so bad for them, oh my gawwwwd, it’s just so awful. as opposed to actually feeling their pain, being able to relate to it, and wanting to connect with another human being.

i don’t know if i’m making sense at all coz i’m two gins and one gravol into my night, and because i’m sad and thinking about how my mom has had a complete and utter lack of empathy (or sympathy, come to think of it) for the fact that i’m devastated by what’s happened to me and by her rejection of my experience. and how so much was for show, even back then. it’s easy to make a show of caring, isn’t it? but to take the time and effort to connect to another human, to feel their hurt and their pain? not for the phony, or the faint of heart, or those so deeply buried in denial that they will sacrifice their own child.

 

ninety-six: empathy

sometimes i wish i had less of this. it would make things more simple. less hurty. more easy to tell what is mine and what is yours. there are some days that it seems that i can feel all of the pain, where i look at my wife and my kid, at pocketbrit, at my friends, at people in the grocery store, and their hurts are like a thousand little darts into my heart. i see their pain, and it hurts me, so much.

and how i got this way, ugh. and then ugh again. it was trained into me from a young age, and it was functional, of course, served as protection. i mean, not actually, i still got hit and violated, but how much more would it have happened if i didn’t know how to read others? if i didn’t value how other people felt, couldn’t see things from their perspective?

as messed up as it sounds, it is one of the vestiges of being raised by the family i had that i wouldn’t trade. despite how often they criticized it (while simultaneously benefiting from it), how often i was seen as being too sensitive. i don’t want to be any way else. i don’t want to be checked out or unaware of your hurt, of your joy. i want to know it, i want to feel it, i want to be with you through whatever it may be…because honestly, how else are we meant to live?