I have just come back from a fearsome dog walk in pelting snow and this was on my mind so I thought it a good idea to put it here.
I am an emotional person and have good emotional literacy I think. I had therapy, I have had my dark times, but I try to be kind and help people out when I can.
I noticed something recently. I was out walking. Something can be present by its’ absence. Over many years, actually in total 16, I noticed a syndrome. I couldn’t fathom it as it was the diametric opposite of what one might expect.
In terms of controlling and confusing behaviour, this is one of the more covert ones but it is so devastating.
There are times when we need support, celebration, a good luck or a well done. There are times we stumble and fall, literally or figuratively.
A normal person will be there for you. A friend in need is a friend indeed. When my friends and loved ones are upset, worried, troubled, sad, happy, I am there for them, in any way. I try to listen, I cook, I offer solace and celebration. I offer empathy and reach out. I reassure.
Even now to somebody who has been bloody awful to me over a sustained period of time I am being the bigger person as he is really physically unwell. I am empathetic. Many think me wet or a pushover or still a victim.
This is the cold front you hopefully won’t encounter but watch out if you do. Simon Baron Cohen is excellent on this, his studies fundamental on establishing the absence of empathy as a marker of these people.
I think it is like the little child pulling the wings off a butterfly. There is a school of thought to say that certain people enjoy seeing others suffer. As an aside and a post for another day I read an article about Ed Sheeran who I understand gets death threats.
This post is about the cold front. When I was facing the first assault of the pain of grief, I was overwhelmed and supported by friends, spoiled really. My then partner was as cold as ice. He engineered a situation to make sure that I didn’t get to see my dying father. He enjoyed my pain. I cried a lot and he just laughed at me, mocked me and was spectacularly unpleasant.
When my son was born I had hoped he would share the family joy, instead he went on a day long drinking binge and showed no concern for my wellbeing. I was once very very ill, I am as strong as an ox but I contracted a superbug, once when I was being treated and howling in pain he smiled and enjoyed every minute. I will never forget the look on his face.
Even now he will set up little stunts designed to cause the maximum distress, I am immune and rather bored. I have come to see all of this with distance and intellectual reasoning.
I have just been out in the snow. I am making hot chocolate and toast. I am going to have a bath then lay a fire. I am going to write all day.
To be empathetic is to be human, to help others celebrate and enjoy good news and to be there for those we love if they need us. I remember once when someone I love with all my soul needed help. I picked him up at a train station and just loved him. He was hungry. I made a massive bowl of food and got him to bed. It was nothing sophisticated, it was solace and care.
If ever you are in a time where you need kindness, reassurance, a shoulder to lean on, warmth and instead you are met with an Arctic blast chances are you are looking at someone with no empathy and you should get away. Eventually the lack of emotion and emotive range will drive you up the wall.
Stay warm and love those around you.