Those who know me and even those that don't know me well know that I am a crier. I call myself a contagious crier. Maybe it's because when I take those tests that measure your gifts and strengths, I score pretty high in empathy. Maybe it's something else. Who knows? But when I see someone crying, I almost feel their hurt or their joy and I cry too. And it's not just seeing people in real life. Stories on TV or in books, commercials, songs on the radio, and posts shared on FB, my family just hands me the box of tissues.
Maybe that's why when someone I care about is going through a rough chapter in life - illness or injury, financial trouble, relationships, internal struggles or whatever - I feel so overwhelmed. I can deal with my own challenges, pain, struggles and I feel fine. The stress of things happening in my life doesn't seem to bother me really. I can handle it most of the time. But when someone I care about has stress in their life and it eats me up. Maybe it's the empathy and contagious crier part of me or maybe it is because I want to be able to help and can't, but watching others hurting is harder for me than going through the pain myself.
It seems to come in waves too. Everything will be going along honky dory when one loved one after another shares some big (bad) news or a prayer request or I just see them struggling. Why is that? Suddenly my head and heart are full of thoughts and feelings about those close to me. My heart hurts and I feel on the verge of tears even when no one is around.
So what do I do? I am still trying to figure that out. I have learned this year that I had been bottling a lot of this in. Then when the "crisis" (even when it's not my "crisis") is over my body literally starts reacting with racing heart rates, headaches, and so on. Doctors are helping me with the physical effects. Still, I need to find find way to help myself deal with the racing thoughts, feelings of worry or fear, (and empathy), the desire to help and feeling of helplessness when I can't. So this is what I am doing. First, I am being real about it. This blog is part of that. What is the saying - you can't fix what you don't acknowledge? My hope is that I will look back on this blog (and maybe others will too) and remind myself to not bury my feelings. Secondly, I am talking to God a lot more. I am realizing more and more He is the friend who I can always vent to AND not only will he listen, but he has the power to help too! The more I talk to God and spend time with Him, the more I sense Him and trust that even when I don't understand why bad or difficult things are happening, He will work it out and has a plan for it. Which brings me to the last thing I am trying to do more. It is so easy to stay focused on the "why is this happening?", the "what ifs" and the "I should haves"in times of challenges even though I have always been a glass half full kind of person. We (or at least I) can get caught up in the sadness, frustration, anger or guilt of the moment. So in times of difficulties or growth & challenges (my own or those of people I love) I am focusing on finding something to be thankful for. This isn't always easy but it is easier when I stay focused on counting my blessings, on promises I have seen God keep and prayers I have seen God answer.
I can't always help those I love. I can't ease their pain, or take away their struggles no matter how much I want to. I can listen. I can pray. I can offer help or advice. And when their hurting hearts make mine ache too, I can talk trust God to take care of us both.