Today someone announced to me that they were getting married…….and surrounded by other screeching, bouncy, congratulating women I stood there with no emotion at all. I literally thought to myself “Well that’s unfortunate…” A few months ago, a friend of mine announced that she was pregnant……..and I was suddenly deafened by the “aaaawwww”s and “Yay”s around me. And again, I had had little to no emotion about it. I managed to squeeze out a very muted congratulations and then a tiny wave of sadness rose over me. So I wondered, am I just some heartless and bitter person with no ability to share in the joy of life’s wonderful moments? Or maybe, just maybe……. do my scars run so deep that they serve as a barrier for all emotions related to each of these topics.
Now, I have always been told that I am not the most empathetic person. I fully own that part of myself. It keeps me safe, keeps me guarded and allows me to subliminally be immune to pain, discomfort, sadness, hurt and guilt. You know, the bad things in life. But I had never realized before that I was also controlled by my inability to be empathetic when it came to happiness. Well not all happiness, just the kind that reminded me of my history with pain, discomfort, sadness, hurt and guilt.
And there it was. My “aha” moment about why I have never been quite as excited about these milestones in life when it pertained to someone else. I’m not heartless, I’m not cold and I’m not resentful….. I’m just reminded that your happiness is a source of my sadness.
So please forgive me when I don’t congratulate you.
When someone announces their intention of getting married, I am not inspired by their love, I am reminded that love is fleeting and in my experience, marriage is not what I was promised it would be. So maybe I fear for them that their marriage will turn out the way that mine did. Maybe I assume that the failures I have experienced in marriage will inevitably also be their failures. Maybe I am just not as optimistic as I should be….. but forgive me. It’s not your fault, but don’t judge me because I don’t scream in delight.
When someone tells me they are pregnant, I have flashes of being pregnant myself and how wonderful that time of my life was and how much joy my child brought to me. But I am also reminded that I will never be able to experience that joy again. And a twinge of jealousy pinches at my heart. So maybe I don’t jump up and down. Maybe I don’t know how to be happy for you because I am selfishly feeling sorry for myself. I know I shouldn’t be…… but forgive me. It’s not your fault, but don’t judge me when it doesn’t bring tears of joy to my eyes.
What I’m saying is…. there are some of us out there that don’t know how to accept the joy of others in certain contexts because we are experiencing the opposite effect of those instances in our own lives.
So please forgive me if I don’t congratulate you in the way that you expect.
Literally, it’s not you, it’s me.