Daily Writing · Mental Health · Perception

Empathize

I am sitting here and enjoying the last hour of my last day off before my vacation in April. I just got done watching the new Avatar movie. My mind is a bit all over the place, but I thought I would try to capture some of my thoughts on the white screen. I anticipated the movie would be beautiful in 3D and the colors would be spectacular. The storyline was similar to the first movie and predictable. It wasn’t bad, and I recommend it for the beautiful scenery and creatures.

Typing my thoughts first in Grammarly, and if you want to know how non-concise your grammar is, it will certainly let you know. The one thing the movie series always accomplishes is making you grateful for mother nature. Also, making you hate everything that is capitalism.

I took my dog on a walk when I got home. The stars were out, and the air was crisp. I could mull over all the things I have to be grateful for. Grammarly wants me to get rid of the for on the previous sentence, but I am unsure how to re-write it. Stupid prepositions.

Anyhow, the first thing that crossed my mind was my education. I am grateful for my education because it gives me freedom. Friday, I had a rough day at work. I’ve had plenty before. The kind of days that make you question everything from job security to what the fuck am I doing with my life. I have worked at this company for a long time, which has provided me with many blessings.

However, all things will one day end. One day, they may decide my salary is too high and let me go. One day, I may irritate the wrong person, and they let me go. One day the company may downsize or eliminate my team to offshore associates, and they let me go. Or, one day, I may resent my job, no longer find joy in what I am doing, become bored, or become stagnant. My education gives me freedom from the fear of being let go. I have the education and experience to land on my feet in several different fields.

If I get stagnant or grow to dislike my job, I do not need to be restrained by the golden handcuffs. I am grateful for this. I continue to work on my education because I love to learn but also to increase my freedom. I want to have plenty of choices.

I was then thinking of the things I am grateful for because they provided me insight I would not otherwise have. Insight and empathy into the lives of others, just on a much smaller scale. It gives me just enough to help open my understanding of the suffering of some. It is sad that for me to understand and genuinely appreciate another’s suffering; I must have experienced it on some scale. I don’t believe this is true for everyone, but I am not alone.

The very reason 12-step recovery and group therapy work so well is it provides a community of people who can understand because they have experienced what you have shared. I know what it is like to burn down relationships and wake up in jail. On a smaller scale than some, though. But I understand, and I can empathize.

I know what early recovery and fear of change, and the emotional rollercoaster feels like. Another preposition Grammarly doesn’t like. I didn’t realize like was a preposition.

I know what relapse is like. What a blessing that is. I speak at a detox weekly, and almost everyone I speak with has relapsed. Before relapsing, I couldn’t empathize. I couldn’t relate. All I could do was judge. Now, however, I get it. I can share from a space of experience, hope, and empathy. What a blessing that is. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

I’ve been called a boy, made fun of, bullied, harassed, insulted, and threatened because of my appearance and how I choose to express my gender. I understand the fear of being in public, using a public restroom, and going to a women’s dressing room. Because of this, I have a little understanding of the world of the trans community and racism. A MUCH smaller scale, but I get a glimpse into that world, and my heart breaks. I can empathize. For that, I am blessed.

I struggle with mental health issues, anxiety, and a mood disorder. Without medication, I can’t control my moods. They are so extreme that I destroy the relationships around me. I lose all connections. It was one of the reasons I started drinking and using drugs, to begin with. Another preposition. To self-medicate and try to regulate my moods. Which at first may have worked but, over time, just exasperated them. I know what it is like to be stuck in your head and to fight those demons. I can relate to all those medicated, unmedicated, fighting those demons. I get it. I empathize.

I have a skin disease and relatively severe lower back pain when I am not doing all I can to manage those things. I have arthritic knees, and I have always struggled with my weight. I know what it is like to be the fat person on the plane and have to ask for the seatbelt extender. I know what it is like to not fit into stadium seats. I know what it is like to be ignored because of my looks and see how the world around you changes based on appearance. I know what it is like to have regular surgeries and doctor appointments every other week. To take handfuls of medication each morning and evening. To worry about the progression of these things as I age. I know many who suffer this and much more on a larger scale. But I’ve been given a glimpse. I was given the blessing of these insights. What a blessing.

I’ve gotten to experience love, marriage, and divorce. I’ve been able to experience years of being alone. I know what it feels like to be genuinely alone, for these times to be painful, and for others to be a grand haven. Those going through a hard split or struggling with feeling alone. I get it. I understand. I empathize.

I could go on, but the point of my thoughts tonight is that I feel blessed for my hardships just as much, if not more, than my successes. I have always struggled with empathy. It is not something I was raised with and is not intuitive. It is something I continue to learn and work on as an adult. I am grateful for the life lessons and insights that the universe has provided me, enabling me to experience empathy in ways I may not have otherwise. For these reasons, I am blessed.

Wishing you all peace in present moments.

Cover Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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