Thursday, December 26, 2013

Looking Back

It's no secret that aside from the past three months, this past year was pretty painful and frustrating for me. I hadn't really been able to articulate why it was so damn bad, but a conversation I had about a month ago helped me see that what I really wanted was to be heard, and that my narrative wasn't getting through. I was getting a lot of uncomfortable sympathy, and not a lot of genuine empathy. In retrospect, I can see why: I am not easy to be around when I'm hurt. I don't blame anyone for wanting to get out of the way. I've been called a force of nature, and my emotions are a force unto themselves that I'm frequently challenged to control (there's a good reason I equate my life with  Neko Case songs). In addition, I learned that there is still nothing more frustrating for me than wanting empathy and being served up a helping of good old-fashioned, avoidant, sympathy, a distinction Brene Brown articulates well in this video.

The good in all of this is that I didn't completely self-destruct; I learned valuable lessons about myself and other people (generally and specifically); I was able to move forward (I moved, I forged new friendships, I got a new job); and I'm ending the year with invaluable insights and feeling something approaching happiness, forgiveness and empathy towards all the players in the movie of my life.

If there's an observation I need to be mindful of, it is this: I continue to seek approval and validation from people only to be confounded quite regularly. Going forward, I'm interested in learning how to meet people where they are, accepting that they aren't necessarily going to be open or have the capacity or time for empathy I wish they would, and also, finding a way to not pursue depth in relationship it when it can't be reciprocated, because that's just upsetting and pointless.

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