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The Limitations of Empathy

3 Responses

  1. I find that people can sometimes relate to a piece of what I’ve been through, but I agree with you…it’s rare that someone that understand the whole of your experience. But trying to understand is a very good thing, indeed 🙂

  2. Nephila says:

    I have to say I don’t think empathy would be so important if people did the right thing regardless of whether they could empathise. I met someone who lost a leg because of a drunk driver. I seriously cannot imagine how awful that must be, but I know intellectually that it was, in so many ways I wouldn’t be able to imagine, and so my response is to feel for her, offer to help, and be even more vigilant about driving sober than I already was. It’s the people who can’t walk in your shoes but also can’t tell right from wrong and therefore go out and do it to someone, they’re the problem.

    My ex boyfriend had a right bitch of a partner after we split. She was horrible to me even when we were together. When one day I had the chance to make a move on him and it would probably have worked, I didn’t. Not because I walked in *her* shoes, but because I walked in mine imagining I had, and knowing what kind of a person that would make me. So I didn’t.

    Sometimes if you haven’t had the experience you can’t feel their pain. It doesn’t absolve you from doing the right thing though.

    So I think it’s all good that your husband is in your corner and ready to side with you against the pathological ex. I don’t think it really matters if he can walk in your shoes. As you say, it’s not really possible. I say it’s not really necessary. All he needs is love and loyalty.

  3. shdwmage says:

    When my ex-wife took off with our kids it was the worst pain I could ever imagine. I still struggle at times with the pain that it caused. I get up at night and just go and look at them to make sure they are still there. It twists and torments your soul in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. At least I knew my ex-wife had my kids, even if I didn’t know where she was. I was horrified, but how much more so would it have been if it had been some stranger (besides her lover she was with) had them? I have a hard time watching any bad news about kids. I try to read the articles or watch the news, but a lot of time I have to turn it off. I am so overwhelmed by grief and pain I cannot handle it.

    To this day I have an issue with babysitters, daycare, and even sending the kids to school at times. I am getting better, but I will never be able to trust my ex-wife with our kids. She hasn’t made any contact with them in a very long time, but even if she was I know that I’d never feel comfortable with them going to see her unsupervised. That being said, I’d still let them go as long as they were provided an out.

    At times I wish I could shut off the empathy, but I can’t. So God is slowly, but surely, teaching me how to use it to help others.

    Sorry, I went down a really dark path there, a lot darker than I intended. Have a good one.

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