I can tell you the exact day I learned empathy. I was in the shower trying to wash my hair. I had recently smashed my elbow into chunks in an attempt to roller blade. I couldn't do it, my elbow just wouldn't work so I couldn't wash my my hair. Previous to this, I'd just worked through the pain, put on a stiff upper lip, sucked it up, and a whole host of other phrases that meant 'don't be a wimp, you could do it if you really wanted to.' Well, I really wanted to wash my hair, but it wasn't happening. My body just wasn't cooperating with me, I physically could not wash my hair. My Mum must have heard me crying or just fumbling because she knocked on the door and asked if I needed help and I said yes. She ended up washing my hair for me. I think what I most remember is that my RN mother didn't ask if I *wanted* help, but did I *need* help. There's a significant difference.
To this day the phrase 'suck it up' screams of a lack of empathy to me. The 'I don't want to deal with your problems, so just make your problems go away' attitude. Yes, sure, a lot of times someone can just push through and work through the problem and do it. But, what is wrong with them working around the problem, doing it a different way? Why should someone deal with true distress rather than finding another route? And what if they can't suck it up to make it go away?
I was recently told by a friend that I CHOSE this life. She never did explain how I chose to fark up my back, be bipolar or get fibromyalgia amongst a host of other problems, but apparently I'm a lay about who mooches off the face of society. I guess I should suck it up.
It never ceases to amaze me the attitudes when it comes to welfare and disability. In most people's mind they seem to think welfare is a trip to easy street. I haven't looked at the process in the last ten years, but it was ridiculously hard back then, I doubt it's gotten any easier under our conservative "BC Liberal Party." Disability is even harder to get. People seem to think that once you get your cheque you're happy to sit on your ass and never work again. I can't speak for anyone else, but I get bored, I get restless, I start bouncing off the walls. I get depressed. And I go find work, I work for a while and I fail at it. My last on the job attempt I had an orthosurgeon tell me to stop or I'd be having more back surgery before I'm 40. ("I'm 38." "Exactly.") Online attempts go even worse. But I should suck it up, right? I should be able to just magically make my body and mind work right and enable me to be a productive member of society.
As much as I wish people without empathy could understand that you can't just magically make your body work when it betrays you, I'm also kind of happy they can't understand. It means they haven't had the trauma or tragedy that would bring the understanding. It means they've always been able to "suck it up" and plow through. The other thing they never seem to consider is just because one person works one way and can work past x to do y, it doesn't mean another can. If all of our bodies worked the same way, if we all could do everything if we just wanted to and worked on it, we'd all be throwing 100 mp/h fast balls in the MLB.
And of course, by posting this, I'm sure I'm just adding to my "drama whore" reputation. But that's okay, my fellow sufferers can relate and we all know we're not alone and would help wash each others hair as necessary.