Fibro: Empathy, Sympathy or Pity

Empathy denotes the ability to understand and share the feelings of another (having shared the same, or a similar, experience).

Sympathy denotes feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

Pity implies tender or sometimes slightly contemptuous sorrow for one in misery or distress .

As a person that has great difficulty making myself talk about my chronic pain, I often wondered why that was. It was almost like keeping a very bad secret…I thought at times it was shame, shyness, fear, just a general feeling of it being something no one really want to hear about, or maybe I was just projecting my distaste for myself onto others. So, I turn to the dictionary for the definitions of the words I had/have a deep aversion to. Because I was brought up admitting pain or illness was a sign of weakness;which was not tolerated. Survival of the fittest and so on. I also believe that standard still holds true for a large portion of the general public today. You’d think in this modern-day and age where the message of acceptance is trying valiantly to I still itself permanently in the subconscious of mankind, I would see a difference in the general publics actions from when I was young. Sadly, I do not see its permanence yet.

Now, all this was brought on by the following song that has been running through my mind this morning.

Lin an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Mick and Keith told the story of the first song they wrote. Mick said they were locked in the kitchen and told to write a song. He looked out the window and saw children playing, where the meandering thoughts brought to mind a sad old person wishing they were young again.

This song was originally recorded by Marianne Faithful and was her first hit. I remember at the time I did not like it because it was too depressing to me as a 9-10 year old.

When I heard it by the Rolling Stones as a teen it spoke to me, also reminding me of a very sad, lonely person, stuck inside feeling dejected.

Now, I associate it with the moment when one realizes chronic pain is here to stay, self-pity is all-consuming in the beginning, then you work through that, away from that feeling, try to move up in your spirit to find yourself.

If you are not familiar with this song you can click on the YouTube link below

As Tears Go By written by Mick Jagger/Keith Richards (1st song for them, 1st recorded by Marianne Faithful)
It is the evening of the day
I sit and watch the children play
Smiling faces I can see
But not for me
I sit and watch
As tears go by

My riches can’t buy everything
I want to hear the children sing
All I hear is the sound
Of rain falling on the ground
I sit and watch
As tears go by

It is the evening of the day
I sit and watch the children play
Doing things I used to do
They think are new
I sit and watch
As tears go by

Don’t you think these words describe moments we catch ourselves wallowing in self-pity?

All this to bring me back to why I really don’t talk about my chronic pain…I just cannot deal with pity because I have wallowed in it. It is a useless, dangerous emotion that I reject emphatically. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me so sympathy just irritates me. I always fear that empathy will create a mutual whining session…yuk.

But, what about compassion? Isn’t compassion a good thing? Maybe. For me, when I feel compassion towards another or from another, it makes me cry 😭. I resist crying. I’m always afraid I won’t ever be able to stop.

Silly me.😜

I’d dry up eventually 😄.





One response

  1. Another great insightful piece and similar to a couple of posts I’ve written and/or shared by other bloggers about acceptance and the need for mourning your former life and this blog which talks of my fears of talking to people. I am a member of a self funded support group made up of people who have all attended a pain managment programme at our Pain Management Clinic at our local NHS Hospital. We encourage each other to get out and about to meet up etc and this has been a life saver for me. I hope you find a happy medium!

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