One of the many things that torture my mind these days since Kim’s passing is how staid she was through her ordeal, worrying more about how I was getting on than her own now-so-much-more-finite life. I know that when I’m out in public, I project a much happier image of where I am than I know to be the reality – I’m not clinically depressed, mind you, and I do have many, many genuine instances of real happiness, but there is a darkness, a burden, on my mind that is ever-present now. Was Kim putting on a similar brave face through the whole thing? Or was she really as at peace with it as she appeared to be? The thought that she could feel trapped in her situation and that there was nothing I could do to change it tortures me.
I believe Kim felt trapped by her life for a long time as well. I think this was what led to her depression which, in turn triggered her alcoholism. And I felt trapped in my life due to that alcoholism and the worry that comes with it – alcoholism unchecked never ends well for the alcoholic, and I loved Kim and didn’t want her to die an alcoholic’s death (which, all things considered, would likely have been very much like how pancreatic cancer killed her), and I love my family, and didn’t want to see Kim get into an accident that would destroy our future. But I felt powerless against it. I couldn’t change it or control Kim to where neither was a risk. Trapped. Desperate.
I get it.
It is the knowledge of this sensation – of being trapped with no rational way out – that allows me to empathize with those in similar straits. And that empathy, especially in the context of Kim facing her terminal illness, to be frank: really, really blows.
Anyway, the title, Empathy blows is a bit of a double-entendre: empathy for the suffering of others – particularly those of Kim and my family and friends – literally buffets my emotional state like (another sea analogy) the waves of a storm buffet the sides of a ship – blow after blow. And, the emotions that empathy generates – at least for me – suck.