Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Empathy Lives Here

Patrick once told me about a theory his mom developed. She thought that very empathetic people could actually take on the heavy emotions of loved ones when those loved ones needed help baring the burden.

I think that is a lovely sentiment. But it is a little too touchy-feely, new-agey for me. While I believe strongly in the power of real love, I think most things come down to solid actions and communication.

Still, much like horoscopes--which I don't believe in, yet still read every day and marvel over their accuracy--I'm amazed by how often this seems true.

For example, before Patrick's surgery I felt this constant, raging anger for absolutely no reason. While he was as calm, cool, and collected as someone in his position could possibly be.

And remember that funk I was in just a bit ago? Well, Patrick suffered through a debilitating writer's block at the time. (Bet you couldn't tell.) Now he's cruising along with his writing again, and I think he has passed his block onto me.

My husband is struggling with the class he is teaching right now. I don't like to talk too much about his work, but it is like he is living in a soap opera over there. He's slugging through every day the best he can. And I feel like I'm taking on his emotions for him too. It just doesn't fly to let you emotions well forth in his line of work.

I'm strong, and as long as my hormones are stable I'm happy to take on the emotional burdens of those I love until they have the time, energy, and space to deal with them themselves. But I wonder if I really am helping them in some cosmic way.

Or am I just bogging myself down by being overly empathetic? And therefor being a worse friend, wife, and mother?

Do you believe in the power of empathy?

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