Monday, April 8, 2013

Empathy vs. Sympathy, Apples to Oranges!

See hash-tag for photo origin!

I found my writing inspiration today looking at Military Wife jokes.

I think sometimes we get so caught up in our own plight and we forget to have empathy for others. {Empathy = Compassion, To put yourself in their shoes and remember what it is like, sympathy = feeling sorry for them} I am not saying I am not guilty.

        Example, about two months after my husband left for his one year deployment. I had another spouse asking me questions and seeking advice. I was as I always am willing to listen and help where I could. At the end of the conversation. She said “well I am a month in, at least I only have five to go!” At that moment that comment felt like a giant slap in the face. I was further into this thing and still had ten months ahead of me. The not so kind comments that rolled through my head at that moment were unbelievable. Intellectually I knew then, as I know now she was not saying it to rub salt in my metaphorical wound but as a prep talk to herself. Knowing that did not make those angry thoughts go away it just prevented me from vocalizing them. J

       I remember being a new spouse and having my husband leave for duty and for training. A day or a week here and there. As time went on I got use to duty and training nights but I am not one of the spouse’s that ever liked it. Then he went to HALO & HAHO jump schools. {Parachute trainings} The longest he was away for those trainings was a couple months. At the time those separations felt so long.

       Now facing down a year long separation makes the others seem a bit less significant in some ways. I had a spouse during one of his jump schools, literally tell me. Oh, girl this is not anything. Just wait, I have been through…… I am not saying she was wrong. obviously now I would much prefer one of those short trips or duty nights I hated so much. But, what I will say is a little empathy at the time would have been much more appreciated. Minimizing my feelings based on your experiences is not fair.

       A lot of us have civilian friends that sometimes have to deal with work or other trips for there spouse. New spouse’s that have yet to experience a deployment but are dealing with trainings and other things. They will sometimes tell us how much they miss there significant other or …

       Try to remind yourself in those moments: That not only do our experiences shape the way we look at things. We all handle things much differently. Comparing my situation to yours is comparing Apples and Oranges. We don’t have to feel sorry for them but do try to have some empathy.

I may not feel sorry for you, but I sure can relate to missing my man!

Picture that inspired my writing! 

see hash-tag for photo origin

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