The Difference Between Sympathy And Empathy Is ...I am visiting my family alone again because my husband had to work. In the five years of our marriage I have made the eight hour trip more times alone then with him and now I manage to do so with my nine month old son. Upon arriving my expectations were high,as always, looking forward to the excitement that came about when we attended family functions or visited relatives or even just sitting and talking with my mom. Only now, there is no excitement. I feel alone - whether it is driving alone and singing endless songs to my poor bored baby on the never ending drive, or the fear I experience as I move as quickly as possible in the dark to the rest stop bathroom to change a diaper and finally relieve myself because I'd put it off for so long to avoid having to risk any chance of waking the sleeping child. Or maybe it's when we arrive at a BBQ and everyone asks where's your husband? And the look of wonder is in there eye - I can see the stories they come up with (he doesn't like our family, or there marriage must be struggling - and the "sympathy" sets in) Or when all the other moms tote there totally adjusted and comfortable babies around laughing and smiling and never admitting that they too have felt exactly the way I do when I try to lay my exhausted child to sleep and he is so unfamiliar with his surroundings and the slamming doors of this strangers house that he screams and sobs and as I try to console him he rips on my hair and thrashes the air totally inconsolable (no they wouldn't ever admit they too feel helpless as if they have no idea how to raise a baby and wonder every day of the "best I can" is good enough - no they show there "sympathy" they say poor baby he looks so tired or a comment is made about what a fussy baby I have) Or when we visit with my sister and he is yet again exhausted as am I - at the table - another "what is your husband up to?" and I've not the energy to explain yet again why he is not here. I feel alone - and when he finally goes down for a nap everyone else proceeds to swimming as I catch a heavenly hour of sleep with my angel - only to wake up and get ready to join them surprised find them coming back through the door as I'm prepared to go out. Or when I try to converse and have a real conversation begging for some interest to be shown in the shrinking personality that once was me they don't respond or care to understand why I am not myself or why I seem unhappy ( no that is when the "sympathy" sets in again - she is unhappy being a mother or her husband should be here, and the speculation of what they decide my reality is becomes the truth in there minds)
I am tired of your sympathy - keep it for yourself - what I want no what I need is some empathy - for you to look at me and know the hurt I feel and the loneliness that clouds my joy. For you to reach inside the realist parts of yourself and remember the times you felt all alone and all you wanted was to be understood and taken for the truth you know and not the one some one else has made up in there mind for me.