Sunday, August 14, 2016

Happy Birthday|With Questions On Empathy

Here's the deal. I turned 62 on August 12th. It was a standard day for me. I woke up, did the usual morning routine. Then I checked Facebook. What!?! No b-day posts from my friends? But seven of my FB friends have messaged me. Eventually it dawns on me that my privacy settings do not allow anyone, even friends to post to my page. So, I changed my settings.Went to work. My colleagues didn't know it was my birthday. At the end of the day, 38 friends have posted b-day wishes to my FB page. Truly fun! All of my friends wished me a great day and/or a wonderful year ahead. Perfectly appropriate. I am truly grateful that my friends want me to be happy. My son sends me this text "Happy Birthday momma" and my heart melts. My daughter sends a text that reads " Happy birthday. It's been a long day. Can I call you tomorrow.?" Dinner was a salad accompanied by Prosecco. Then I binge-watched "Married at First Sight". In the overall scheme of things, it was an okay b-day.

However as the day wore on, I realized that I want more and not necessarily cake, ice cream, cards, balloons, flowers or presents (although those would have been enjoyed). So to quote the Spice Girls from their song "Wannabe" "I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want". I want friends who know me and are willing and able to connect with me in person, via a message, an email, a text, even a post...and acknowledge that they know me; that they see me; that they get me. Essentially this communication may require a level of empathy and self-awareness that is hard to come by. 
"Empathy is the ability to understand how someone else is feeling. Showing empathy is one of the most important traits in building and maintaining relationships. Empathy allows others to feel understood and cared for. It can strengthen an already existing friendship and help forge a new one". 
In my fantasy I would like to hear something like this:

Happy Birthday my friend. I know that as you turn 62 your life hasn't turned out the way you hoped, dreamed or planned. This past year has been hard for you. I know that you are grateful for many things and experience joy every single your children, in your grandchild, in the beauty that surrounds you and in the photographs you take. And I also know that you are often lonely. That you long for a loving, committed relationship. That you have a small family and wish that you weren't so far away or distant. That you crave close, even intimate relationships with a few significant people. My birthday wish for you is that you find that. I know this is your wish as well. I love you for who you are and embrace your fortitude and courage in continuing to have hope and chase those dreams. Be well my friend. I love you.

It's asking a lot. I know. It is a special and unique relationship that can allow this level of communication. There has to be deep knowledge of each other and tremendous trust. It is a rare relationship that would allow the incredible intimacy of such a statement.

In our politically correct culture, this is difficult. Are we afraid to be vulnerable? Do we know how to hold emotion? Our own, let alone someone else's? If we acknowledge another's feelings, do we have to do the same for ourselves?  Is the action of communicating empathically a marker of real connection, true friendship? 

"See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal Me". From Christmas, by The Who


Photos in this post were taken by me!

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