life

Empathy

12:00:00 AM

Emre, an ex-boyfriend based in Australia, recently messaged me on Facebook to tell me that he was grateful that I came into his life last year. He said I inspired him to become a better person, and that he hopes I’m happy and “still shining my light to people” around me. It wasn’t a bad breakup (there was no big fight or whatever), but I wouldn’t call it a good one, either - I mean, all breakups hurt - so it was nice to know that after everything, he looks at our time together as a good part of his life. 
Empathy
(image from the internet)
My dear friend, Alfred, gave a different version of the same comment. I won’t explain the context in detail as it’s not my story to tell, but the short of it is that I felt guilty about something that I can’t be blamed for. He reassured me that I was a good person despite my flaws, and that I make the people around me better. 

“Always make someone’s life a little better than before they met you.” I already shared that nugget of wisdom from my mother in a blog post from years back; it’s one of my guiding principles on living. My mother has been gone since 2010, but I like to believe that she’s always just watching over me, so I try to do the things that would make her proud of having me as a daughter. If Emre and Alfred think that way of me, then I suppose I’m doing okay. 

When my mother passed away, my brother and I were absolutely overwhelmed by the number of people who showed up at her wake to pay their respects. Each person had a story or two of how she has helped them out, and it felt awesome knowing that her advice to me wasn’t hollow - she walked the talk and her life was a glowing example of making other people’s lives better.

I’m too young to be thinking about dying, and for the record, I don’t actually think about it except when I’m remembering my mother. But when it’s my time, I hope that people would have something positive to remember me by. I’m not particularly conscious about what others think about me, but it would be really nice if good things would be said about me at my grave.

For now, while I am still very much alive and kicking, I know that the other thing I need to work on aside from being a good person is managing my empathy. During our conversation, I told Emre that I felt the weight he was carrying even though we had a long distance relationship, that even when he wouldn’t tell me anything, I could sense it (he told me I was right). 

Alfred correctly pointed out that I’m often too emphatic for my own good, which is why there were times when I would feel guilty about things that I don’t have anything to do with or are not in any way my fault. I have to learn to deal with it better, because guilt triggers my anxiety. The last time it happened, I was unable to function normally for days and I even got sick because I couldn’t sleep or eat when I was trying to get my emotions under control.

That episode is over, and although I can’t promise that I won’t ever go through something like it again, I know that I’ll be able to handle it better. After all, I do get better at it every time, and I have friends like Alfred and my best friend Joandrea who help me process everything. I’ll eventually master my empathy - take note: master it, not lose it. 


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