The problem and relativity of pain

I recently had a conversation with an old friend that I have not spoken to since we grew apart. It was the first time in a long time that I had opened up to her about my life. What I found to be so interesting is how I tended to spar with her and best her in our life experiences of pain and suffering.

She cannot understand my pain and how my struggles have led me to who I am today. I feel like her pain is quite so insignificant compared to my own. Yet, I also cannot understand what she has gone through.

As she draws on her own experiences of pain in the attempt to relate to mine, I cast it aside because I believe that she could never understand the depths to which I have been broken. Nor do I believe she can understand the slow, trudging up-hill battle that it has been toward healing.

But, WHY? Why do I feel the desire to be so competitive? Why do I not allow myself to accept her attempts at empathy?

It is all because she has never experienced anything similar.

It is so hard for us as human beings to accept the sympathy of others because we know they have no basis for understanding our predicaments. This is why we gravitate towards and befriends those most like ourselves, those who can truly empathize. These relationships bring with them a feeling of connection, of belonging.

We often forget that simply because others have not had similar experiences, they too experience pain and suffering. Everyone’s experiences are unique. To live in this world is to have experiences of both suffering and joy, hope and anguish. We should never diminish the experiences of others simply because they are dissimilar from ours.

However, the truth still remains that we cannot expect to understand the experiences of every person. And we should not expect them to understand our own lives. It simply is impossible to achieve.

Life is difficult and we’re all flawed and broken in some way or another. We must accept each other as we are. It is a good reminder when you believe are you open and understanding only to realize how judgmental you’ve become.

These are the ravings of an apologetic mad woman.

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