I am not very good at feeling empathy for others. There are not too many occasions in which I can say from the bottom of my heart “I know exactly how you’re feeling” or “I totally understand what you’re going through.”
Maybe it has something to do with my incomplete identity, as a Westernized Asian – I am a little bit of both, but because of that, I can never be one or the other completely. I can relate to both in parts, but I am unable to share either in entirety.
Because I cannot wholly synchronize my feelings with others, I always have to fake my reactions to some extent. When I was younger, that made me feel like a phony, and I used to abhor myself for pretending to be someone I was not. And I also detested being constantly afraid of losing a sense of myself, being immersed so deeply in falsehood at all times.
But now, I think I hate myself a little less because of the skills I have acquired by becoming an accomplished phony.
Maybe I am less opposed to take pain-killers unique to my culture, called ambiguity?
Maybe I can freeze my heart so I will not feel any burning desire, either to be the acceptable me or the real me?
Maybe I have learned to be numb to all painful self-criticisms?
No, if anything, I have become more sensitive to my feelings and the things that move them in one way or another. I listen very closely to pick up any clues that will allow me to act, and possibly feel, appropriately. I aim to have a “hell of an ear” – an expression in my mother tongue to describe a person who can catch all sounds… any talks, whispers, utters, moans, or gossips.
Maybe I will never be able to feel true empathy for others.
But maybe by training my senses to detect more and more signs of what others may be feeling, I can better fake my empathetic actions without lying to myself.
Maybe that will be as good as it gets, but I think I will have achieved a hell of a sense of myself.
Maybe that would be a good gain for all the growing pains I have felt.
P.S. My “”hell of an ear” has caught a voice of someone in great distress. This one’s for you, N… I hope it will stimulate your numb fingers to wake up soon so your heart can once again blossom doing what you love to do!