Sunday, October 12, 2008

Get Stung

Are you like me and have a hard time understanding other's reactions to life's little problems? Do you tend to look at people and think, "Aw, stop yer whining." Or, "It can't be THAT bad." Or, "You obviously aren't trying hard enough." If you don't it is because you are a very very good person. If you do it is probably because you are like me and have life so easy it is hard to understand how life could possibly get so bad for other people. If you want to overcome this awful inability to empathize I have two words for you:

Because sometimes you will never be able to fully understand someone else's reactions unless you actually experience their life. The other day I was stung by a bee for the first time in over 18 years and I was shocked, absolutely shocked at the pain. I thought I could remember what it was like to get stung. When my kids get stung I usually help them and tell them I understand their pain, and I put a baking soda paste on it, and then I tell them, "Calm down, now, it isn't that bad." Well, folks, it IS that bad. It felt like liquid fire was consuming the inside of my flesh and turning it to molten lava. As I experienced the shocking pain, all I could think was, "My poor babies, is this what they were feeling? And I had the nerve to tell them it 'isn't that bad?'" That needs to change!
Sadly I seem to do this in a lot of areas in life. You should have seen me as a first time mom. Whoowee, I thought I knew everything. Then I had my first boy and it has been one never ending lesson in humility as I am annually forced to eat every single snide judgement I ever make about other mothers. Snide judgments taste bad.
I had this same problem with my husband and his getting sick. I never ever really got sick except for the occasional cold, so in my experience being sick wasn't really that bad. When he would get so sick that he couldn't move from the bed I had a really hard time being nice to him. I thought things like, "Faker! It can't be that bad. No one gets that sick. I bet if he got up he would get better faster." Of course it wasn't much longer before I finally experienced sickness to that degree. Yeah, you can bet your hiney that I didn't get out of bed when it was my turn, and I made sure to moan and sniff extra loud just to make sure that Mr. Hotness and the entire world new just how sick and miserable I was.
Again with my sister who suffers from migraines. I thought she was the biggest baby when we were teens. As an adult I tried to sympathize with her but still had a hard time believing that she wasn't over dramatizing the whole thing or was doing something wrong to cause them in the first place. People, if any of you still think this way about other people's migraines I warn you, DON'T! Because some day you will be given a migraine. You will try all the things you've ever thought people should do when they have migraines. It won't go away for weeks. And you will want to claw your eyeballs out of your head in order to find the maniac using the sledgehammer on your skull and destroy him in a gruesome manner. Yeeeeah, um, lets just say they are really bad.
Now, anytime I feel a snide judgment coming on, I try to stop myself and think, "Do I really want to get stung again?" And the answer is always, "NO!" I'd rather just fully believe what people tell me they are going through than have to go through it myself.


mom huebert said...

Thank you. Our family has been going through some health issues, and the extended family can't understand it at all. They think we're making it up!

sariqd said...

Appreciate this post... not too many people embrace this sort of enlightenment, you know?

Packer Family said...

I think I am like this a lot too! I'm going to work on it. I don't want to get stung!

Skubaliscious said...

What a great post!!! So true!

I think, too, that we all feel more judged by others because we know we are judging them...

I'm going to remember the bee thing. We have fire ants here - and they remind us how painful they are VERY often :)

Mrs. Morty said...

Great post, it made me giggle, it made me think. It is so easy to judge and sometimes so hard to shut our mouths, but being quiet is so often what we should do.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Very thought-provoking. Thanks. I'm thinking that unless I'm willing to take on someone else's suffering myself, I should not minimize it.

Magirk said...

That sounds like a good plan. I'll try to follow your lead! ;-S

Although, I have immense sympathy/empathy for migraine sufferers - they're awful!!

And I also sympathize with anyone going through infertility treatments. THAT is just no fun. And it's emotionally traumatizing, to boot!

Great post. :-)

Magirk said...

That sounded bad.

I meant to say the migraines are awful. Not the migraine sufferers.

Sheesh!! :-S

Richelle said...

Great thoughts. I had never gotten stung by a bee until this past summer, and it does hurt! I don't want that again, or the other stings you are talking about.

elena jane said...

sadly, you are correct about the empathizing ability. it is hard to imagine how someone else feels unless you have been there.
and the bee sting, OUCH! :(

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. I'm a person with a high pain tolerance and my husband and son are not. I have to try hard to remember that they experience things differently than I do. It's really the same with emotional things, too.

We all have different experiences!

Erika said...

Love this post (especially your explanation of the feeling of a bee sting!)
I recently have eaten a ton of my words, especially in the screaming child department...
Thanks for the reminder to keep those thoughts out of my head :-)

Lisa said...

OOhhh...I'm terrified of bees...and I've never been stung. But I'm afraid I'm much like you in the "It's not that bad department." It's something I really need to work on.

But I do have empathy for the migraine sufferers. I would get them so bad I just wanted to vomit because I knew it would make it feel better. And I HATE throw up!

CC said...

I was stung again last year for the first time since I was a kid. It was awful.

My husband suffers from chronic pain and I've had to eventually just try to forget it. If I spend 24/7 tiptoeing around his pain, no one's life can go on. It's sad, but I really don't know what else to do :(

32 Flavors said...

So apptly put. I get stung more often than not. Maybe that is why I am in the state I am in right now. Ouch!

Jeanette said...

My husband got kidney stones and it irritated me at first when he kept saying it was as bad as giving birth (somehow I doubted that), but then realized I needed to be a little more sympathetic. Just as he does not know the pain of giving birth to a child, I don't know the pain of kidney stones so why try to compare?
I suffered from chronic migraines a few years ago and still occasionally get them. I think many people underestimate the pain that one goes through when they have migraines.

Michal said...

i am so glad that i haven't been stung by a bee lately, but if it happens anytime soon, i'll try to be grateful for the perspective it gives me.

Sonja said...

Are you sure it wasn't a wasp? Those suckers hurt like, well, real bad.

This was truth. Pure truth and I loved reading it.

Hope the bees stay away for awhile.

Lisa said...

I've never been stung by a bee, and I don't plan on experiencing that!

I'm not so nice when my hubby is sick...I should do better. :(

However, I do get migraines. The kind that put you to bed. Usually I can take a certain medicine and go to bed and wake up fine. I don't think I would last long if it lasted for weeks. No. That would be bad!