I recently came upon this post ‘The Crazy In My Head: The Empathy Edition‘ on The Living Dangerously blog. The author opens with the line ‘I never cry’ and describes how in her personal and professional life tears are rarely wrung and when they are they are like blood from a stone. Except that is when it comes to her fictional world – books and television dramas in particular – then the tears flood.
It struck a chord. I did think to post a comment in response to it but then considered that the rambling words I would likely enter would be better suited to a post of my own! The blogger can have a pingback instead!
It is the same with me. I have lost close family members in the last three years and I certainly cried but I still wonder whether I should have shed more tears. Have I let it all out I wonder or am I still brimming with unspent emotion.
And it is not that I have a heart of glass. I can shed tears quite easily – but like this blogger at fictional melodramas not my own real-dramas.
The Grey Whistle Line sung by June Tabor and Maddy Prior or Over the Rainbow sung by Eva Cassidy and my tears can flow quickly. Likewise nearly any episode of Cold Case. Jane Eyre whether the Charlotte Bronte book or a TV or Cinema adaptation will always get me going.
Perhaps it is because it is emotionally easier? It pulls on our empathy whilst not overwhelming us in a way our own heart-aches and heart-breaks might.
But the tears that dry on my own tend to be of sadness and loss – the warm uplifting feeling I have when watching, for example Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, or listening to U2’s ‘Beautiful Day’ is not then confined to the screen or the vinyl record – these feelings I feel fully and freely with my own family and friends.
Perhaps then it is about vulnerability? Being able to empathize with anothers but not wanting to expose my own.
Perhaps I need some professional therapy.
Too much at ease in the secondhand daylight of my imaginary world, too little at ease in the firsthand daylight of my own trials and tribulations?
But as The Empathy Edition blog post amply illustrates it is a condition of the heart widely shared and which I take comfort from it not complete solace.