Day 6 – Empathy

On Wednesday nights Evan and I participate in a multi-family therapy group.  It’s a place where a facilitator guides us through thoughts, activities, and conversations in hopes to help the participating families become better skilled at family, relationships, and life in general.

Last night was particularly engaging as we discussed the differences between Empathy and Sympathy…the session was kicked off with this short video by Brené Brown…

Okay – so which character did you relate to the most?
Holy cow – I’m SO the deer!  Relatable part? There were a couple…
ohhh – it’s bad down here (judgement…soooo don’t want to be here…don’t like these feelings…worst days, boy, this sucks for you)
You want a sandwich? (or any other pain avoiding behavior you need…let me fix this)
Silver lining (don’t wallow, look at the bright side, ain’t nobody got time for feeling sorry)
@ Least (more deflection – pull yourself up by the bootstraps and let’s get out of here)

With all my talk of learning to be still, becoming comfortable with walking through emotional pain, being brave – it occurred to me last night that I am horribly uncomfortable with YOUR pain.  I’ll take my pain any day over sitting with you and not being able to do a damn thing to fix the situation.
At least with my pain I have options…an illusion of control

Now take that thought and apply it to motherhood.  You usually don’t end up in a multi-family therapy group every Wednesday night when things are going great – right?  We’ve got some things that we’re walking through…motherhood has never been harder than it is right now.  What makes it so damn hard is that I am having to watch my child struggle, fail, get back up, struggle, trip, fall, try again and on and on it goes.  It’s a dance of letting go and parenting…being with Evan, loving him, BUT NOT FIXING HIM.

graphic-brave-beloved-arrowThis empathy thing deserves much more unpacking but I’m still trying wrap my head around it all…but to all my friends that I’ve been more sympathetic and tried to fix – I’m so sorry.  I can’t promise it won’t ever happen again and I’ll always be that friend that will eventually tell you to get up and let’s go – I will however, be with you on the journey out.

Love y’all – xoxoxo DM

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Donna Matthews is a blog writer at the DJRanch where she strives to remain authentic while not taking herself too seriously. She is also the creator of Slay The Chaos (, where she writes about productivity and organization. She is a member of The Writers Guild and Write Space in Houston and is currently writing her first book.