Experiencing sadness is ok
This week I received a lot of kindness. I often am the recipient of kindness but I was kind of surprised at the number of people who were “worried” about me. Perhaps I’m still learning to be an emotive person who showcases more than joy so a blog about poignant sadness was a surprise. Perhaps, like my sister Lisa often reminds me, a few of my dear connections were trying to offer empathy and it came across as sympathy. Empathy is the realization that we can connect on feelings. Sympathy only looks at the similarity in experience and often feels like pity. So one could look at my life and sympathetically say “Wow, yes, I’ve never had infertility, a miscarriage, an autoimmune disorder, a puppy, and severe dietary restrictions all in the same year that sounds like a lot to handle, that must be really hard.” Or you could say “Wow, I can relate to feeling really sad or very vulnerable, broken, worn out and or restricted, or completely overwhelmed. Those are really difficult places to sit, I will sit there with you.” The difference is subtle but the effect is inclusive. With empathy, there is an air of non-judgment regarding the emotion and experience and the recognition that, at our core, we share so much humanity in our vulnerability. With sympathy there is a line in the sand between your experience and mine that often looks like fear, as in ‘I really hope that never happens to me!’ I can relate, I’ve felt my share of fear about my life this year, for sure. But please know that my ability to articulate what I’m feeling is a strength. The words I use to define the experiences I’ve had help me to process them and by sharing the experience I am owning it in a way that simultaneously makes me vulnerable and empowers me. I’ve been thinking a lot about being a muted, faded out version of myself or the real thing. This blog, it’s gonna be the real thing and that’s going to involve emotion. Hang on :).