Thursday, March 17, 2016

A confession about invisible rocks

So one of my coping skills is pretty common, but it sort of makes me uncomfortable.... I wonder if it means that I am relishing other people's suffering, making me someone who isn't empathic, but actually some horrible sort of sociopath.

So, here goes:
I often think of myself as carrying a giant invisible rock on my shoulders.  That rock is the sum total of grief and pregnancies and babies that never survived for over three years.  It's a constant weight, it is attached to me in staff meetings at work, in the hallways of Niblet's school, and when I am hanging around with friends.

Here's where the coping starts:  I imagine every person I interact with as carrying their own giant rock.  Because it's invisible, I can't see what it's composed of.  It could be the death of a loved one, a childhood trauma, or any stressful situation that would bring anyone to tears.

In the cases of friends who have had success with babies, when confronted with their reality - how THEY were allowed to have what was brutally taken away from me - I often remind myself of what I do know.   
 Her Dad died when she was young 
Her marriage didn't survive 
She lived through foster-care.

In the case of strangers on the street or in the grocery store:
She might have lost one too.
Are they going to make their rent this month?
Is her loved one sick?

When I think too hard about this, I get deeply uncomfortable.  What kind of person does this make me? To be comforted by the fact that deeply personal shitty things don't just happen to me, that they also happen to other people?  That everyone has a giant rock?


  1. It makes you a very normal person! Grief and loss is so isolating it's comforting to think we are not alone in our suffering. Because it often feels that way when so many people are focused on presenting a glossy existence to the world via social media. I, too, often think about the losses of others. It makes me feel more connected and less isolated and also gives me hope I can move on to some sort of meaningful life despite all the grief I carry - one of the main reasons why I read your blog! Of course we don't delight in the suffering of others (I wouldn't wish recurrent loss or tfmr on my worst enemy!); don't we just reach out to, or think about others who have also experienced losses, to feel less isolated? a very normal, human thing to do Xx

  2. No way dude, you don't feel 'better' that everyone is carrying giant boulders, you feel COMPASSION. EMPATHY. You are not finding their bad times a comfort, you are just acknowledging you are not alone on the universe is an asshole train. We're all there, for one reason or another, and it's up to us to reach out and see what we're all going through.
    Or. You should drink more. Vodka helps me tons.

  3. Yeah, I know, it's human and y'alls are right.