“And when we meet, which I’m sure we will, all that was there will be there still. I’ll let it pass, and hold my tongue, and you will think that I’ve moved on.”
I heard Dido’s song White Flag recently, one I hadn’t heard in quite a long time. Sometimes lyrics jump out at me, taking me by surprise with how much of an intense impact they have on me. I never cease to be amazed at how some words, when put to music, can describe my emotions so perfectly yet without warning. There isn’t anything particularly special about these, but the poignant, plaintive feeling that consumes me when I heard these words was at the least overwhelming; I felt the need to share them with you. Maybe you aren’t experiencing this situation currently, but at some point you have (or will), and hopefully you will understand.
It has honestly been too long since I’ve written on this blog. My followers may have forgotten about me but that’s alright. I know I need to write this whether anyone else reads it or not. I’ve been through quite a bit in the past year or so; I’ve experienced death and I’ve felt heartbreak. This will probably be one of my more serious posts, as I have realized something important about myself.
Empathy is often seen as an admirable trait, and I still believe this. Empathy, however, is the very word that I’ve now come to believe describes me, and this of course has its ups and downs. For one, I get to feel the joy others feel, the excitement that friends and family experience during harmonious times. I get the usual compliments, like “You’re such a great listener!”, “You totally understand me”, and “You’re like the nicest person ever”. These make me feel good. I want to be known as someone compassionate, who cares fiercely for others. Above anything else, those are the words which I hope people will associate with their mental image of me, whatever that may be.
The other side of this is that with the good comes the bad. I can’t tell you how many times someone else, whether it be a friend, a family member, or simply an acquaintance, has been going through something difficult, shared it with me, and I cannot seem to shake off the feeling of devastation or anger or sadness for much too long. I began watching the TV series American Horror Story not too long ago. Although I fell in love with the show immediately, the drama that filled each episode in turn filled me and I had to stop. I’m sure everyone has experienced that feeling, where you get so angry with a fictional character’s behavior that you want to punch the TV or throw your book out the window. (Hopefully none of you have done this).
Either way, you get the idea. I’ve met someone who had to leave an entire life behind to begin a new one, someone who has been through heart-wrenching breakups. I feel it. I feel the poignant tears well up from within me, not necessarily because they are a close friend of mine, but because the emotions are so obvious to me when I hear their words, look into their eyes, or see pictures of them from their past life. Even though I rarely know the whole story, I know I feel what they feel, because I let the emotions consume me, good or bad.
Maybe part of it is because I have experienced many of the same things. I too, have had to move and start life over. I, too, have felt the butterflies of new-found love, and the soul-crushing sadness that follows after a breakup. I’ve felt the warming love of a wonderful family, and I know the grief of loss after being beside my grandmother’s bed as she passed away. I’ve been scared. I’ve been so excited that I nearly couldn’t stand it. I’ve been through pressure, terrible anxiety, and I know what it’s like to be carefree. I’ve been deceived, lost trust in others, but I know what it’s like to have complete trust in God.
It’s taken me some time, conversations, and many a thoughtful night, but I’ve realized that empathy is just a part of who I am. It is the cause of many breakdowns, but also of many cherished times of rejoicing with friends. I can’t let it cause me too much unnecessary pain. Instead, I’m going to use it to help others when no one else understands. I won’t let this get the best of me. Empathy can make me a little crazy, but as I always say on this blog, that’s okay. Life isn’t perfect. Sometimes it can be crazy hard. But if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And I am exactly who I want to be.