From Merriam Webster:
Greek empatheia, literally, passion, from empathēs emotional, from em- + pathos feelings, emotion — more at pathos
1: the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it
2: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner ; also : the capacity for this (emphasis mine)
I got in an argument not too long ago wherein I was accused of confusing mind reading with empathy. It shook me up at the time — and it still stings — but after some days of reflection, it may be true.
I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, the most empathic person you are going to meet. Part of that is temperament; I am introverted and selfish with my time. Part of that is circumstances; given my daily to-do list, I feel that if I weren’t selfish with my time, I would lose my mind. And that’s not going to do anyone any good.
It goes beyond that though, and, frankly, being more empathic is something I could work on. Empathy would help in my relationship with my dramatic, easily upset 4-year-old. My primary response to her histrionics these days is frustration. (Also, rolling my eyes.) It would help me find a way to help my 2-year-old who is plagued with nightmares. Being more empathetic would certainly help in my relationship with my overworked husband. I get that, I do.
I admit that I am having trouble stirring up empathy — for anyone, not just those poor unfortunates in my immediate circle. I am so freaking tired. If I don’t get a solid night’s sleep soon — like, tonight — I don’t know what I’m going to do. The cumulative effects of broken sleep are starting to seriously show; my edges are beyond frayed these days. On top of everything else, I am still struggling to keep my home in some kind of acceptable shape, and wondering when I am going to have the time or energy to actually get ahead of the mess (especially in the kitchen and the office).
I yearn to be a better partner to my husband, but as we hardly see each other, this is proving extremely difficult. He works all the time, and he always has paperwork to do, regardless of the day or the hour; I am left with the bulk of what constitutes “not paid work”. Which is a lot of work!
I am not bitter or angry (today at least). I am feeling tired, despairing, hopeless. Things are slipping. I’m feeling alone.
I guess I need a little empathy too. Or at least eight hours of sleep. Two nights in a row, even.