New word of the day: Empatheater (def) the staging of human compassion

Something bad happens – car accident, illness, anxiety-producing incident. You endure post-experience psychological trauma and then re-enter society with the sort of feeling a beach ball has when pressed under water.  Your friends, in humanity’s quest for empathy, surround you with compassion and love, offering supportive remarks and sympathetic hugs.

They bring oddly-shaped sugary foods and post awkward Facebook comments and say things like they are “there for you” and “here if you need anything” and “just a phone call away.”  They “drop by” because they were in the neighborhood and “check-in” just to see if you need anything.  Their voice attains an aged shake about it, as if the onset of Parkinson’s is hitting the vocal chords.  They develop abrasive foot bounces and tilt their heads with the cultural deference we all assume in foreign cultures.  They end conversations with elongated “Sooooo’s” and promise to come back tomorrow.  It is the human method of comforting another member of mankind.  These are socially acceptable customs.

But then too, there is this.  Some of us don’t want to hear your…. NO, WAIT, let me try that again, with a little more compassion.  When we are stuck in a state of sadness, when suffering or misery attaches to us like a gay man’s lisp, when the morning’s sludgy mind and lingering silence continue into the waning hours of sunlight, we do not need you piling it on like it’s some Thanksgiving turkey plate.  I understand that you’ll feel better commiserating by telling your saddest and most parallel story.  I appreciate that you think I will feel better if you illustrate that you, too, have issues and that my misery does not reside in solitude.  I identify with your desire to empathize by surrounding me with as much depression as possible until I’m so thoroughly disgusted with the emotion that I’ll leap from the two-option precipice and into the vat of happiness just to avoid the overwhelming sense of despair.

But there might be a better solution here.  Perhaps you can be a beacon of joy, a spotlight to the world of optimism.

Rather than shrouding me in the cloak of despair, liberate me with wings of bliss.  When I’m down, don’t join me in the hopes that I’ll find companionship, lift me in the hopes that I’ll learn to soar in solitude.  Alas, perhaps that would go against our nature, but one can always hope…but then, that’s kinda the point isn’t it.



By ccxander

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