Love you but not absorbing your pain 9

How do you keep from absorbing the pain of your loved ones?

If your mate is ”having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”* or week or month, how can you keep from having one, too?

If someone you love is struggling with an issue that is making them question their standing/status/future in the world (like yet another lay-off) does it make you begin to question your standing/status/future in the world? 

Let’s say you have a close friend or relative who is depressed; in loving them, having empathy for them – do you begin to experience their pain?

Are you allowed to still feel joy about your life when you are surrounded by others who are feeling pain?  Can you still want to do the things you enjoy – a long walk, dancing to old school and new cool music, or organizing your photos – to name but a few?

Should you keep your joys and small daily accomplishments to yourself?  How can you even have pleasure when some of the closest people to you feel doom and gloom?

It’s not that I don’t feel pain or that I  don’t worry – I do, I do.  But I have a point below which I don’t sink…at least not for very long.  I’ll have a brief pity-party (often with myself) and then I’m on to what to do next.   Instead of focusing on all the things I can’t do or don’t have – I do the thing(s) that I can. There’s always something one can do.  This attitude and ability has worked for me for most of my life.

I learned early to lean on myself.  I learned early that forces larger than me – namely my parents, a mate, an employer, the weather – could change my life in an instant.  Instead of thinking, “why me,’  I most often think, “why not you, bruthuh?”  (This is a quote from a film Richard Pryor was in; I wrote a blog about it some months ago.)

Hear ye, hear ye:

I love you.  I feel for you.  But, as Barbara Streisand sang in the movie, Funny Girl, don’t rain on my parade.**

I’m working diligently not to let my joy be stolen by the pain of others.  My turn for pain will come soon enough.  Until then – I plumb for satisfaction.

*Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (Author), Ray Cruz (Illustrator) 
**”Don’t Rain On My Parade” (Music by Jule Styne, Lyrics by Bob Merrill, Performed by Barbra Streisand)

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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9 thoughts on “Love you but not absorbing your pain

  • Pam J

    I love what you wrote. It is so true. I am dealing with something similar. Some people just do not know how to accept happiness…but I do.

  • LeeAnn

    Oh man! I love that children’s story and I love that song! It’s so true….my turn will come – for both happy and sad, scared and elated. everything in it’s own turn. Didn’t someone pretty smart say not to wallow in either? It’s hard to “be” with out friends and family when they have hard times – but can’t wallow b/c your turn’s coming and you have to dance with those “not hard times” while you have the chance. I figure no one wants me to be sad with them – and maybe if I’m “up there” I can at least give my friends, my family, some time to come up too…and hopefully I’ll have the same when I’m down.

    Did any of that make sense?

  • Candelaria

    Thanks for commenting.  Sometimes when I write my blog posts, I wonder if I’m alone in my feelings.  I’ve been wondering if something is wrong with me that I still feel mostly happy most of the time despite the troubles of those around me and my own worries.

  • Jim

    When I’m in a crappy mood, the last thing in the world that I want is to bring my spouse down with me. In fact, I hate when she takes on my burdens. I enjoy her liveliness, especially when I’m down.

  • Frank Curran

    I found this entry particularly inspiring. I’m going to pass it on to my wife who is surrounded by a lot of pain(Dad who is sick, friend who is dying, kids who are doing less than well).