Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Empathy

Those who know me... not merely know of me... not just from on here, the people who have actually met me in person would tell you I'm rather empathetic. I haven't always been, I think I just reached a level of emotional experience where if I see a person experiencing something I once experienced I feel it nearly as strongly as they do. Thus I get rather emotional watching movies, reading books, etc. etc.

I was recently reading a tale in which a college freshman was dumped by his girlfriend of three years. And while it's been awhile since that's happened to me, I felt it like it had happened yesterday. I remember losing my appetite, barely able to eat even a single bowl of ramen noodles over the course of a week. I remember that all-consuming numbness that overtook me for months. I remember feeling not like I was living life so much as going through the motions, that all my life experiences at that point in my life were somehow muted-- and just generally feeling lost. Not geographically speaking of course. I knew where I was, I just needed to find my way back to WHO I was, and I remember the frustration that came with that journey... Finding your way back to you-- a table for 1, after existing as a couple for an extended period of time-- it's never easy, it's rarely fun, and often heart-wrenching.

So as I was reading and getting this emotional connection to a fictional character-- I realized that while what I was reading was fiction, emotionally speaking it was very much fact. It also left me with a feeling of relief. All the missteps, the stumbles, the mistakes to reach that ultimate goal of finding that one special someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with-- that part is over. I married my best friend. I know the 2 years we've been married is a mere drop in the bucket and there are many more challenges we're yet to face. Challenges we can't even imagine, but also there's that comfort of knowing that no matter how bad things get-- we've got each other. We aren't alone in this mess called adulthood any longer.

But for a brief few moments, I was back "there" in a place I hadn't been in a long time, and the scenery was all too familiar despite the time and distance I've put between myself and that despondent locale.

My mother once told me she wished she and my father had "hardened" me a bit more-- so I wouldn't feel so much. I told her not to think that way-- I told her it's a part of who I am and I wouldn't have it any other way. And truth be told, I wouldn't... even if my wife does tease me for tearing up over Hallmark commercials.

8 comments:

tornwordo said...

Spouse always mocks my tears during shows. Oh and he supremely mocked me for getting "scared" during a simpsons episode, lol.

Dantallion said...

Your description of the transition from table for 2 to table for 1 is extraordinarily spot on - you took me down the same road I remember experiencing...some things are universal, I think.

Empathy is such a fantastic gift - that you have it and that you recognise that you have it is a blessing, I think.

Awareness said...

I don't think those traumatic moments ever leave you, because I think they continue to teach us or reminds us of what we are grateful for. Like you, and others, I can transport myself right back to the table for one in a blink of an eye. I remember so vividly the early morning I phoned my parents in a complete mess after being dumped by my boyfriend of 4 years. They were in another city, but managed to beat the speed of light to get to me. They took me home and along the way, I was in such a state that my Dad had to pull over to the side of the road and get me out of the car to breathe again. My mom slipped a valium in my tea unbeknownst to me when we got home. I laugh now, but HOLY it was bad.

And now, like you........I look around and see that I too married my best friend....a man who sings in the morning....who makes up words to songs....who always buys me flowers.. who loves to dance spontaneously...who doesn't mind if I cry at hallmark commercials. :)We celebrate our 20th anniversary this year...

Yup....stumbles and grumbles and challenges for sure.....but we weather them all, because we're best friends.....AND we sing from the same songbook.

ps. My mom told ME the same thing as your mom told YOU. Like you, I wear my feelings on my sleeve...the better to see them :)

have a great evening Perplex!

dana.

The Phoenix said...

I hope you don't watch Oprah too.

Sounds like being dumped really sucks. I've been fortunate to not have experienced that, since all my break-ups were mutual.

At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Layla (aka Barbara) said...

I can sooooooooo relate. I wish there were MORE guys like you out there. I am tired of the type that thinks crying is wimpy.

I feel sick thinking of how sick I felt after my last breakup. Ugh.

Great post

St. Dickeybird said...

I think it depends on the circumstances. "Table for 1" for me, is better than the "Table for 2" that I had a few months ago.

And you and your wife are a lucky couple. Cheers to you!

Janet said...

I don't know. I'd rather be accused of being oversensitive than not having any emotion. If you can connect to something, that's a great feeling. We encourage that in our students all the time. If they're moved, that means they get IT.

Snooze said...

I agree with janet.