Warning: curse words and self-centeredness
Empathy is an asshole. Sure, it makes you compassionate and able to support others through whatever life is handing them. But damn it. Empathy rocks your world, when you least expect it. It knocks you down even as you try to help lift up others. The feelings are so strong that you can’t do anything but think and feel and pray and reach out and focus on the those who are most affected by what is going on. When those you love are grieving, you grieve with them. And grief is exhausting. Empathy is a blessing and a curse.
Somedays, I wish empathy would take a break. I have shit to do. Like a writing deadline, but I can’t do anything except focus on other people’s pain. Yes, I hurt, but mostly for the situation and those closest. Empathy looks a lot like depression on me. I can’t seem to pull myself out of feeling, and so to escape, I sleep. Or do crosswords…until I fall asleep. Writing about my life is not escape. Writing is hard. Except writing about empathy. Actual empathy is harder than writing about it.
I feel like I used to be capable of crockpot caring. Set it and forget it. I could get in huge fights with my ex-husband at home and then have a lovely day at the office. Perhaps I had no empathy for him. I guess there are some world events that don’t take over my senses. But then there are things like Orlando. And arrest. And suicide. And I don’t have compassion fatigue but am overwhelmed by the gravity of it all.
I believe I am mentally healthy when I do feel empathy, as it is one of my strengths. When I was able to compartmentalize my emotions, I don’t think I was “whole.” Brokenness binds us together, despite the difficulties that arise from that. When I am able to ignore someone’s pain, then I am the asshole. Only when I am fully myself (which is generally not asshole-y), I cannot ignore the pain and suffering of loved ones and the world.
So, here I am, putting words to feelings I can’t quite describe, while writing my life still looms in the forefront and back of my mind. Empathy, I have a deadline! I can’t change anything that happening in the world or in the lives of those who lost a father, friend, sister, son, pastor, person. I can pray and reach out, but damn it, I can’t ONLY do that. Stop being an asshole, empathy. Go prey on someone else for a while I write, ok? That’d be great.
Someone who cares deeply
Former international fashion model Rev. Sarah Renfro seeks to boost the body image of young women by educating them on the myths of media and focusing on divine within. She also preaches and teaches about marriage and divorce, motherhood, ministry, and mental illness.