Compassion vs. Sympathy

Last fall I changed my life in two major ways. I started juicing vegetables and taking responsibility for the totality of my existence. Since then I've undergone a tremendous metamorphosis. The nutrition fed my body in a way that allowed my Fibro symptoms to settle down. Realizing nobody else was going to fix my exceptionally screwed-up life, nor were they going to live it with me, fueled a responsibility to the quality of that life I was previously too ill to absorb. Slowly the two shifts came together, and I've been able to move forward in ways I was too sick and stuck to accomplish for the last decade. The result is a freedom I never thought I would have again. Yes, I still have Fibro, but my symptoms are so managed I don't live every single moment of every single day caught in its evil, joy-robbing, life-destroying clutches. Thank God.

My journey with chronic illness took me places I never thought I would go. Places I never even knew existed. Places so dark and fraught with panic, anguish and ugliness I didn't think I would survive. The result is a compassion for the suffering in the world I can no longer take for granted. I certainly don't think my life is the hardest life a person ever lived, but I've suffered a plenty, and observe the suffering of others with the clarity and compassion of a kindred soul. Even if that suffering is frivolous, by my standards, I still get it and compassionately respect the journey we each must traverse to prevail. 

Conversely, my sympathy for the suffering of others is practically nil. A person has to have a pretty screwed up existence to garner my sympathy. As sanctimonious as it is to admit, I hold the depth of a person's tragedy up to mine, and only if I deem it worse, do I lend my sympathy. It's a dangerous slippery-slope to subscribe to, but for now, it's were I'm at. Working so incredibly hard just to wake up each day and not be too sick to function jaded me. I no longer feel bad that my life isn't the worse-case scenario. I don't feel responsible for anyone else's tragedy or unhappiness. And ultimately there came a day when I stopped feeling bad that I'm getting my life back. In fact, it's dawning on me right now, that my sympathy became so hard to win when I stopped feeling sorry for myself.

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