As much as we might want to try to empathize with another person's plight, we will always fall short. We fall short because we live our lives from our own personal experience and prospective.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to actually put ourselves in another person's position. We may try to understand where another person is coming from, but our ability to do so is hampered by our own personal judgments and an inability to truly feel what another person is going through.
All we can do is try to be there for the other person in whatever way we see possible. We can offer our support and in so doing, show the other person we care about what they are going through whether we understand it fully or not. This show of support in whatever form, is the humane way of letting another person know they are special to you and that you want to help them to best of your ability.
Through my leg loss scenario, I have sought and received a lot of help and support from others. It is not always easy to ask for and graciously receive help from others, in fact it has been especially difficult for me. Sometimes I feel as though I have not shown my appreciation enough, something I have written about previously. This is a self created paradox, that if left unaddressed, can lead to feelings of guilt.
If we are not careful, we can begin to feel guilt for the situation we find our lives in. Guilty because we may feel, on some level, we caused or contributed to our predicament. I must admit there are times when I feel a little guilty about how I got to where I am. When faced with these feelings, I remember that no sane person would knowingly contribute any action that would result in the loss of their legs.
I am not saying that one should completely absolve one's self of all contributing aspects of bad things that may happen, however, more times than not a person does not deliberately set out to to harm one's self.
On those times when feelings of guilt should arise, I try to realize that affixing blame to one's self or feeling responsible is counter productive to moving life forward in a postitive direction. Guilt is not unlike anger in that they both produce emotions that are harmful both to one's self and others envolved. In short, those emotions accomplish nothing and can lead to depression.
I am sorry things have changed in my life with respect to my leg loss, however, I do not feel sorry for myself. Feeling regretful that our lives may have taken a unexpected or unpleasant turn for the worse, does not mean we are relegated to a life of self pity.
It is our responsibility to ourselves to strive, sometimes against seemingly impossible odds, to prevail and attain personal happiness.
I remember not too long ago, after changing clothes to go out to dinner with my friends Marguerite and Paul, I said to Paul, "getting dressed for me is like dressing a life-size Barbie [or in my case Ken] doll." Paul said we (people in general) just don't understand what it takes for you, do we?
Paul's question resonated with me because it typifies what he and so many others really don't understand, nor should anyone understand who has not been in my situation. It would be wrong of me to expect people to understand what I go through on a daily basis.
I can't begin to tell you how many people have said to me over the last few years, "I can't imagine what you go through." It is true they can't imagine.
By the same token I can't imagine what they, or anyone for that matter goes through, none of us can.
You are you, they are them, how would anyone of us, in any circumstance, possibly hope to feel what another feels. We cannot, as the saying goes, walk a mile in another's shoes, that is particularly difficult for me because I have no feet.
Understanding each other to the best of our ability is all that we can hope to do for each other, and I am thankful for those who do just that, as I attempt to do the same myself.
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