i used to think empathy was a good thing. somewhere along the road, i got empathy confused with sympathy and thought all of it meant feeling someone else's hurt in a way that would help them. being a shoulder to cry on. being a reliable friend. it was all wrapped up in one big package for me.
one of the english teachers at my school has a sign on her door that reads, "abandon all empathy, ye who enter here." i've read that sign a hundred times and every single time i think, why? isn't it a good thing to comfort another person? to let them know they're not alone?
today on the treadmill i had an epiphany. it finally occurred to me (yeah, i'm slow, so sue me..) that empathy can be a bad thing. you can understand why a person is hurt WITHOUT getting caught up in their feelings and hurting FOR them. you can say, "i'm sorry you feel that way and i understand" without trying to FIX the reason they're hurt or upset.
(more often than not, i'll even take responsibility for other people's problems. i get it in my mind that i've done something to contribute to their hurt or anger. it's really annoying. i have to stop doing that.)
at any rate, it's time for me to stop hurting FOR other people. stop being the martyr who feels like they need to fix things and be the savior. i'm no savior. i can't make other people happy if they're not. it's no good for them... and it's certainly no good for me.
so, this is it. and it's going to be a doozy for me. i resolve to "abandon all empathy". i'm leaving it behind here, on this last day of 2009, before i walk through the door of 2010. there's no more room for it in my life... and i think i'll be a better person for having cast it aside.
happy new year, moppets. be happy.