Olympic Fever

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I am so happy the Olympic opening ceremony is tonight.  I love watching the Olympics and seeing all the young talent our country has.  I particularly love the figure skating, skiing and snowboarding events.  I just wish the backdrop of the Olympics wasn’t getting so much coverage and that all the athletes are treated respectfully and protected from harm’s way.

It would be absolutely horrible if some terrorist attack were to happen and the fact that this topic is even getting so much news really detracts from the underlying theme of the Olympics.

Another reason I am thrilled the Olympics are beginning is that maybe it will stop all the air time Justin Beiber and Philip Seymour Hoffman are getting, especially in New York.  It is very sad that both of these men seemingly have (had) it all and are (were) hellbent on destroying their lives.  Justin Beiber is heading down the same destructive path that Philip Seymour Hoffman walked down in his last few months of life and if Hoffman’s death can scare others into becoming sober and taming their addiction, maybe the air time will help.  But if history repeats itself, there will just be more destructive behavior from celebrities.

I’m possibly more sensitive to this issue due to my current health situation, but when I see people throwing away their lives, when I would give anything to get my life back, it upsets me.  I understand that these people have an illness, but just like we work at it every day, so must they.

No Pity Please

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Recently I was trying to explain the difference between empathy, sympathy and compassion to someone who obviously doesn’t feel any of these things when thinking about friends, family or the world at large.  

My conversation with this person wasn’t going well and it was on an afternoon where I didn’t particularly feel good to begin with, so my frustration levels were high.  My friend was complaining yet again about the circumstances of her life and at some point I couldn’t take it any more and said , “Please stop and look who you are complaining to” and she shot back “So you want me to feel sorry for you”.  I said the last thing that I want is your pity. I want your understanding and compassion for my situation, not your pity.

She was dumbfounded and didn’t know the difference and when I added that you are the least empathetic person I know, that really threw her.  I realized that at 50+ years old, she really didn’t feel for other people and other conversations started replaying in my mind about when she only cared about how events affected her well being and not the world at large.

I have been told at times that I am an extremely empathetic person and have always been criticized for that when I was in the workforce.  I would constantly put myself in other people’s shoes and really understand the predicament they were in.  I do it in life too, but it always came up as a negative on my performance reviews (but all my superiors were men and men as a group are generally less empathetic than women).  I never considered empathy a negative as I believe it makes me a very caring and understanding person.  It helps me get into the heads of people in my live and understand their actions and movements better. In my opinion, if you lack empathy, you have a deficit in understanding the emotional states of others.

So I’d rather be a feeling, considerate and compassionate person and care about my group of friends and family, as well as, the world at large, even if it causes me to worry at times for others.  I feel sorry for my friend as she is missing out on connecting on a much deeper level with people and the universe.  Maybe she isn’t really a friend, but just an acquaintance.  I wonder if she knows the difference between those 2 words…

 

For others who never thought about the difference between these words:

empathy

Empathy is the ability to mutually experience the thoughts, emotions and direct experience of others. It goes beyond sympathy, which is a feeling of care and understanding for the suffering of others. Both words have similar usage but differ in their emotional meaning.  Empathy invokes an understanding what others are feeling because you have experienced it yourself or can put yourself in their shoes.  Sympathy is acknowledging another person’s pain or hardships and providing comfort and assurance. Compassion is a very deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.

Friendship is a Gift

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I’ve been ill for 4 years now and throughout that time, I have had a support system that I can count on. Although the number of people that I rely on is dwindling, as people seem to forget you exist when you can’t go out and have fun, there has been a steady core of people I have in my life. I am very thankful for that, but until recently I didn’t have someone in my life that truly understood what I go through on a daily basis.

I belong to several online support groups, that have been a great source of comfort to me, but I have been tirelessly looking for a “real live” person to connect with and recently I met someone, who suffers with the same illness as me. Meeting and connecting with her has truly been a gift to me, as I don’t feel so alone anymore.

We are in similiar situations: in our 50s, divorced without any children and live alone. We have become good friends and I think this has happened because we probably would have become friends if we met out in the real world, even if we weren’t sick. The illness can connect you, but without similiar real life interests, it would be hard to maintain a true friendship. What would you talk about?? I don’t want to constantly talk about the illness and how badly we feel. I want to talk about things that take me away from the illness.

My friend (Ms. D) has just as many, if not more symptoms that I do, but she is one of the most positive people that I have ever met. She has also been suffering alot longer than me, but still has hope. She encourages me, as I her, and we talk or text daily. She has become like a sister to me and part of my extended family.

So even though I have lost some friends along the way while I have been ill, meeting her has taken away that hurt. They obviously weren’t as true friends as I thought they were. Just like when people take marriage vows and repeat that phrase “In sickness and in health”, the same should be true for good friends.

I am thankful that I was able to meet her and that we live so close to each other. If we arrange to meet and she isn’t up to it, I get it. I don’t question her or make her feel guilty about cancelling our plans. The same goes for me. We both have had to cancel on each other at the last minute, but we understand why and don’t take it personally. It’s the illness acting up, not the person.

Her friendship is a gift to me and I will treasure it.

Friendbracelet