The other day, I came across a short video on YouTube about empathy. It basically said that those who have suffered in life, experienced loss, pain, grief etc undergo changes in their feelings and attitude towards others, all of which makes them more compassionate, more understanding, better listeners and in turn better friends, especially towards people who have had their share of ups and downs, challenges and ordeals. Basically, empaths turn out to be a godsent friend to someone whose lives have been less than rosy and far from perfect.
Among the hundreds of meaningless reels, vidoes we see everyday and swipe on to the next, there are very few that actually make an impact and stay on with you. This one did. And it made me reflect on the most important relationships I have (not too many unfortunately). Whether these people are empathetic or sympathetic and how has that changed our equation over the course of time.
Let me go back about a decade back, when I started my first job (damn, that makes me feel so old), I met this guy, a year junior to me. He was like an answer to all my dreams. Not romantic dreams!! But dreams to have a sibling. One with whom I can share all my joys and sorrows. Let’s call him Lil bro. We bonded instantly and were inseparable during those 3 years we spent working in the same team. We used to share everything about our personal lives, the mess that was our love lives back then, the heartbreaks we had endured and bitching about the idiots we dated then and before. We had formed a bond of a lifetime. He became the brother I never had and always wanted. He had a roommate who was also like a brother to me and we too bonded well.
Over the course of the next few years, Lil bro settled abroad, earned in dollars, married the girl who fulfilled all the criteria in his checklist (good looks, good looks and good looks), lived the American dream life. His flight of life had taken off and soaring high, while mine was on the runway briefly, but ultimately grounded for repair work and maintenance. (whoa, gotta admit, that was a good metaphor, wasn’t it?😆). Either ways, we got busy with our lives and eventually the frequency of calls and meet ups reduced.
Meanwhile, his roommate settled for a less lucrative job in his hometown. His father fell sick around the same time as I did. He came to meet me in the hospital several times. We kept in touch. I used to keep asking about his father’s health and he followed up on mine. His father passed away 2 years later. He was devastated. I used to message him daily to check up on him. He always asked me how I was feeling, how i was dealing with my changed circumstances. Whenever I go back home, we make it a point to meet, and whine, bitch, crib and also laugh at our miserable lives over delicious food and wine. Our trysts with sickness, ill health and the long drawn repurcussions of it made us both empathetic towards each other. We bonded over discussions based on hard, painful, uncomfortable topics.
As of today, I am in touch with both of them. But conversations with Lil bro (few and far apart) are usually about the good old days, all the fun parts. Nothing unpleasant. Nothing awkward, nothing heartfelt. Coz I somewhere feel that he won’t get it. By god’s grace, he hasn’t experienced anything so painful or suffered through any real tragedies. And while I am extremely happy for him, I do find it hard to relate to him these days. Whereas, i have grown much closer to his roommate. He has truly become a younger brother, a confidant, a supporter and a friend to whom I can rant about the unfairness of life as well as laugh over the silly things. Our brush with suffering, grief, pain, sickness and loss has helped us bond and cemented a friendship based on the unpleasantness of life. 💖💖
My cousin sister and I are of the same age and ever since we were little, we were inseparable. We were soul sisters even before we had heard or the word or knew what it meant. If she had a secret, i was the first to know. And vice versa. And it continued to be so till about college. Then work, marriage took us to different cities. Our lives took us on different paths. She got busy with work, husband, kid. I got busy with my shitshow of a life. We did keep in touch. But when I really needed a friend, a sister, she never reached out. Probably, her lack of similar experience or suffering, made it difficult for her to become an empath and reach out and offer support. As of today, we do talk on and off, but safe to say, that if she has a secret now, i am not going to be the first to know. Infact, i probably won’t know it at all. And same for me. 🤷
This is about yours truly. The past few years have been very challenging for me. Sickness, grief, loss, fear, anxiety have never left my side. I was always emotional and sensitive. But my life experiences have now made me over emotional and over sensitive. So the other day, my husband’s friend and his wife came over for dinner. I have met her 3-4 times in total. She’s cool and I like her. That night our general chitchat veered off to unchartered territory and she ended up sharing a lot about all the troubles in her married life. I guess my own life experiences have made me an empath as well, as I just sat there, listening to her, letting her vent, letting her ramble on. And Seeing her cry and narrate her ordeals just broke my heart. I advised her based on what I thought was right. And I do genuinely hope she can sort things out. 💔💔
Well these are just 3 instances i could think of, where the presence of empathy or the lack of it changed some of the relationships in my life. Where empathy created new bonds, formed new unexpected friendships, the lack of it depleted the closeness and the emotional attachment in existing relations. So yes, based on my personal experiences, i do think that empathy makes you a better friend. It makes you more sensitive to other people’s pain, their suffering. Because, you too have experienced the grief, suffering at some point, maybe of a different kind, maybe of a different intensity. But you do know what it feels like, when you’re down and out. Whether it’s failure or sickness or loss or just silent suffering, once you have experienced it, it’s easier for you to understand what the other person might be feeling. It makes you feel empathy and that empathy often makes you reach out and offer a shoulder to cry on or atleast lend an ear to listen to them rant, ramble, vent and sometimes, this act of reaching out and showing care and concern paves the way for a forever kind of friendship. 💖💖
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think empaths make better friends? Do let me know in the comments. Will look forward to reading them. Happy weekend friends 😊😊