empathy sucks.

The other day I cut myself while shaving my legs. Granted it was that tough spot around the ankle and I was using a disposable razor, but still, I felt like I was 14 years old again. As I watched the blood trail dribble down my foot, I thought about how long it had been since I nicked myself like that. When did I grow up? These last few years have launched me further and further into adulthood. And each of the issues that surround me lately feels so “adultish”. When did people start getting sick? Having their first, second, third child? Struggle in their marriage? Deal with depression and anxiety? Worry about foreclosure and not being able to pay the bills? Die, by chance or by choice? How did I miss the transition from worrying about what to wear to the mall and what shape to fold a note in, to dealing with my 100th doctor’s appointment and what the best payment method would be for IVF. I feel like my life has been a blink these past few years.

Earlier, I stumbled across an email I received over two and a half years ago. I was searching for something in my inbox and found a message my sister sent me back in 2010:

… I know that God is going to strengthen your patience in this time… I KNOW  little Courtney Jr. (hehe) is going to come at the right time and place. I’m sure it’s frustrating and confusing – but God is faithful to the end. So faithful. Psalm 34:10 “…those who SEEK the Lord lack no good thing.”  Keep seeking him, Chels. He hears your heart.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:8-11 ESV)

So what God is doing in your life right now, this season of waiting and praying, it’s all for his purpose, it will not return to him without doing his will.  So many times I have walked through a hard, confusing, season of waiting – but the joy of it all is that when someone else is going through the same thing, I can relate, listen, talk to, and be there for.  He is building your character right now.  You are such a light, and I cannot wait for this joy to be brought into your life!

After reading it I paused, reflecting on the date. I cringed at my own nativity of my own timeline of when our prayers would be answered. I reflected on the words of encouragement, so grateful for the consistency in them over the years. The kind thoughts, the verses, the reminder to keep chugging. But this is tough. I am getting impatient. I am losing momentum.

I’m having a tough month. But this time, it’s not entirely my own issues that are weighing me down. My heart is weighed down by the sadness and circumstances going on in my friends and families lives. I struggle to be a good friend. I feel like there is so much going on around me right now, so many problems, struggles, requests, so much sadness … and I can’t help everyone. I feel pulled in 70 different directions, not being able to support anyone well. I am dabbling with little bits of prayers for everyone – trying to prioritize who needs a meal, which friend needs a card, who needs a call or coffee date. Who needs silence and who needs a partner. I feel completely drained, like I have nothing to offer anyone anymore. I was hoping these last few days away on a work trip was going to give me the ability to “recoup” and catch up on things, but instead, I was exhausted from the conference, tired from the travels, physically still dealing with all the hormonal changes going on. I didn’t return calls. I didn’t reply to emails or texts. I didn’t blog. I just feel like I am letting so many people down right now.

One of my Strengthfinder Top 5 strengths is Empathy and while its defined in that assessment as a “strength” I have found it to be one of my biggest weaknesses and one I need to figure out how to reign in. I am empathizing to the point of taking it all on my shoulders and struggling to carry it all. I had a mentor tell me this last week that I need to ask myself “Do I own it or do they?” I am still working on deciphering that without feeling like I am failing those around me.

And then I am struggling with feeling like I am being shut out by some. Not intentionally I don’t think. I truly think because so many people are going through so much, the natural instinct isn’t to reach out to others. So I am left feeling like I am trying to help, trying to connect, trying to carry and share a burden, while others are pulling away, trying themselves to stay afloat. As a result, I feel like I have done something wrong. I am not a good enough friend. I have offended them in some way. I just feel like an utter failure. I don’t have enough of me to go around. And then I think about starting this next stage in our TTC journey – in fact, taking my first “IVF prep” pill tonight – and how I am doing a really lousy job of taking care of ME right now. And that’s not right either.

In a nutshell, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I am sad for situations others are going through. I am trying to help them, but also need to start focusing on myself more too. I need support but don’t know where some of my biggest allies went. I just hope life gets easier …. Wishful thinking, right?

2 thoughts on “empathy sucks.

  1. Mandy Barclay says:

    Chelsea,

    You are/and have been in my prayers. God is an amazing God, and He knows His plans for you.
    I know this is a very tough season you are going through, just know there are people like me that are out there to listen, and be there for you.
    If you ever just need someone to vent to, I am a phone call away to help you, help yourself.
    Keep your head held high. You are an awesome chick and when God is ready you will make one amazing child and that child’s life will be blessed beyond words.

    • chels819 says:

      Mandy, thank you so much for these kind and encouraging words! I appreciate the prayers so much too. I appreciate your willingness to read, listen, and just be there. It means so much! Hugs!!

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