From my point of view, the ALI blogosphere is the most empathetic place in the world. And it’s not even a real place. It’s how our hearts connect. We are here from different paths and for different reasons. We reach out from within our own pain to fearlessly reach out to our sisters and put on their shoes for the time it takes to read a post and leave a comment. To “try on” another woman’s pain, so that we can give the best comfort we can.
I used the word “fearlessly” because I’ve come to the conclusion that the main reason people are not empathetic is fear. No matter how much we’ve endured, our own pain is familiar. To really empathize, rather than express sympathy (which always brings the word “pity” to my mind), we must imagine what it would be like. To lose an infant, to miscarry, to lose a spouse, to have an adoption fall through, to have a failed IVF cycle (oh, wait, I know that one), etc. Fucking scary! My MO is generally to feel the fear and do it anyway. But to be honest, I have not been able to click on the links on LFCA to the blogs with recent infant losses. Just can’t right now. If they were blogs I’d already been reading, it would be different. So, while my heart goes out to these grieving moms, I’ll let some other sisters step up. Those shoes are too scary right now.
Where does empathy come from? Is it in our DNA? Can it be taught? My mother and sister are not very empathetic. I have been told by more than one mental health professional that my mother is a narcissist. Narcissists don’t do empathy well. Why try on someone else’s shoes when the world is revolving around YOU! Did I somehow get the lesson from my father, who died when I was 17? Is it a reaction to my mother’s self absorption? Do I try to understand how others feel because she never tried to understand my feelings? (This is the woman who seated me, her 40 something, single, childless daughter, at the kids table for Passover this past year.) Is it just part of who I am, stamped on me at conception?
My child will not have a mother who will assume to know what he or she is feeling, or who will discount those feelings. I can’t wait to meet this unique person.
As I wait for the next step to bring me closer to my child, I salute my sisters who cram their feet into each other’s shoes, endure the pain in order to listen, to really hear, to understand as much as possible, to comfort each other and to celebrate with each other. It’s certainly not the easiest way to be. But my life and my friendships are richer for it.
Hitting the reset button
4 months ago