dealing with compassion

Dealing with compassion

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I’m doing. How I’m contributing to my relationship and the health of my boyfriend. I finally would like to write about it since this is the only way I know how to really know what I’m thinking, and how I’m doing.

There’s something I can be shamelessly confident about myself; I can empathise with others without sympathising. As a firm believer of anti-sympathy, I save words of what and why. I say ‘are you hurt?’ ‘How are you feeling?’ I always believed that a good company doesn’t have to ask what happened and why it happened. Those are what “I” want to know for the sake of my curiosity—to connect “my” dots—, not what the person needs in that moment. I prefer to be an active listener when people talk about how they feel, not the one who evaluates the situation.

That said, no close relationship is easy. I struggle. So many times. And I fail many times. It’s not that this relationship is particularly difficult than others I had, but it certainly brings a different kind of conflict. The most difficult thing is the balance. There are moments when I have to scale the level of being compassionate and being a girlfriend. I once told him that I felt like I’m being a therapist. It might have hurt him. I seem to do that. The reason I said it was that sometimes he has a great difficulty on certain matters or from certain memories, and I’m there, being a companion, being humanly compassionate. If it repeats, I become more like a therapist than a girlfriend. Sometimes, I feel like being straightforward compassionate actually risks how I feel about our relationship, the dynamic kind of relationship not the status kind. It’s an extremely delicate line and also sensitive to raise as an issue.

As of this moment, I still don’t have an answer to what this feeling is. Why I have to want to measure the compassion I give, why I felt like a therapist not a good listener. I care about him more than anything. But somehow there is this bothering feeling about how I should deal with his difficulty which is no longer only his thing. I want to be there with him and I want him to feel better in long term. One reason might be that I feel what compassion entails is a rather temporary feeling than a constant giving of feelings. For me compassion is like giving the blood whereas empathy is like sharing body temperature. I’d like to give my blood when it’s needed but it changes both of our nature. I would be flushed with new pumps of blood and his body would be partially filled with my blood. The influence of my blood will soon dominate his system. And the important thing is, giving blood signifies that he lacks it. But I know for sure that he has so much to give. In contrast, sharing body temperature is constant. I feel warm from his warmth and he feels warm from my warmth. It’s not the matter of benefitting from each other. I can give more if he needs. But it’s about who we are, we as a sum of two people not as two individual people. I don’t know how I can explain this more.

I keep saying that compassion is temporal. I can feel it myself. Hypothetically speaking, if I didn’t have to worry about how far I should go with my compassion towards him, then I imagine that means I would be “expecting” the situation will improve. It might not sound so wrong to expect the situation would improve in the future. Maybe it sounds hopeful and positive. But I’d like to let <i>him</i> do it if he wants. Maybe it is better if it improves, whatever that means. But I surely don’t want to lessen what we have now and what he sees in his eyes by gazing somewhere else far, expecting.

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Choyoung

An anthropology novice with passion for small things. A development worker in a world of imponderabilia.

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