Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Recognising Empathy

I was going to start with ‘in a previous life’ but I have now come to terms with this all being one life.  I don’t want to disown anything in my past because without it I wouldn’t be here.

And so for a little trip down memory lane.  In past relationships I have been with the alcoholic, the gambler, the womaniser – I can truly pick them.  For today's subject I’m going to focus on the alcoholic.  Because, on reflection, my authentic self truly tried to knock down some doors in that chapter.

So I was 22 years old, in love and so sure that no one else knew what my best interests were.  I had found my true love, knew that he wasn’t perfect but I could feel his pain and understand his reasoning and with all of this knowledge I truly believed that I could help him and make that ‘happy’ life that I/we so wanted.  I should note at this point that my initial reaction when I first set eyes on this man was one of ‘s*** this is bad’ – those authentic whispers were there but charging hormones and pure bloodymindedness won over.  So I found myself in London cut off from family and friends (again through choice of my own bloodymindedness) and living what I now know to be one of the most lonely times of my life.  Because basically this ‘relationship’ really only had one active participant – me.  I felt all of his pain and my empathetic vibes being so strong I not only felt it, I owned it.  So much so that I didn’t need to have conversations because I already knew the answers to any questions I might have. I ignored the alcohol replaced with water – which is not so easy to do in London as the limescale in London water kind of shouts out at you.  (Maybe it’s easier to be an alcoholic in Scotland because our water is purer! – and so I adopted the guilt of having taken him to London because that was where I wanted to be.)   I owned those feelings of self loathing, worthlessness and desperation to be loved so much that I made myself ill.  Then one day standing over the kitchen sink my authentic self cried out ‘what am I doing here.’  And I guess I finally used my empathy to my advantage and asked the question that I already knew the answer to – “You need to give up alcohol or I walk”.  And so I walked....  

I do have the great gift of empathy.  I have only recently realised it to be a gift.  I guess because I asked the question brought by the image on my Pin for today.  I looked at that image and figured whoever created that really gets the ‘coin toss’ analogy here.  It can be a gift when you recognise that those feelings are not yours and so not your responsibility.  And yes, you can help – but only when the person in need is ready.

So now I’ve recognised my gift and figured out how I can use it not only for the good of other but for my own advantage – but that’s a whole other blog.

Catherine @ The MacsXxx

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