Oh, empathy. I ooze it. Empathy distorts the boundaries of my body, and sometimes I feel blended slightly into other beings. At times I can’t tell where I end and others begin, particularly when people are in pain. I sit close and reach out with a comforting hand. My skin becomes smudged and my heart hurts.
Empathy is a relating of emotion. In the realm of grief, it is taking up a portion of pain, willingly, to help another bear their load. There is no power within us to negate emotional pain, no magic wand, no potent salve. There is only empathy. The sheer force of “me too.”
When I read today’s writing prompt, Something Blue, I didn’t think in terms of color. My mind went to sadness, grief, emotional pain, and suffering. I thought about my own times of deep despair, and the loneliness that abounds in those spaces. Some of the greatest pain in my life has come from feeling utterly alone. Even with people nearby, if belonging is absent, isolation can grow.
There are walls we build, desperate to protect ourselves from pain. We mean to block out suffering, when in fact, we lock ourselves in with it. Empathy breaks through broken-heart barriers. It can soften us to the pain of others, and in turn, help us tap into self-compassion. There is a type of healing I’ve experienced that came directly from relating to others in pain- an understanding that I am never alone.
Are there people around you that suffer? Of course there are. We’re all in close proximity to pain. Are there times you feel the pang of empathy in your stomach, but you just don’t know what to say? I want to let you know that you don’t have to say a word. I know you want to fix it. I want to fix it, too. Yet the growth lies in allowing ourselves, and others, to just be. And the healing lies in just being, side-by-side.
*Let’s throw some words around! January Write Alm prompts are up! Respond as inspired! http://writealm.com/january-prompt-a-day/