Things are pretty tough at the moment. But, amongst the bad, there is good. And whilst this does not in any way make up for the bad….. I do recognise and I am thankful for the good.
Three things that have occurred in the last 2 weeks, that required my empathy to happen.
Good thing No 1.
A new student at my 14 year olds school, was being racially abused. He is Muslim. My son saw this happen and asked the student if he wanted to hang out with my sons group of friends. When he came home and told me about this, he expressed his concern for the student and how terrible it was that he was being bullied and abused. So, my son stepped up and now the student has a group of friends, who have accepted him and treat him with the same dignity and respect as other students.
This meant more to me, than any academic or sporting achievements. This is about my sons character and personality. His empathy and compassion. His capacity to be a decent human being and step up for others who are vulnerable and being treated badly. I was tearful about this. Because, it shows my empathy in my parenting and what I model and speak about, has this effect on my teenage son. All the conversations I have had about empathy, and about bullying, about racism and how wrong they are, have led to my son acting in a truly compassionate way – that many adults can’t even manage. And this matters. What my son chose to do – matters.
And the deeper issue I am also aware of, is Muslim teenagers who are treated badly by non Muslims, are far more at risk of being groomed by murderous psychopath terrorists, for radicalisation. Hopefully, this would never be an issue to this student at my sons school. But, in being accepted and treated well – by non Muslim people….means any risk of radicalisation, is reduced.
Good thing No 2.
At my ladies group, a woman confided in us, about having PTSD, due to being very ill a few years ago, and the poor treatment she received. This resulted in a decline in her mental health, with severe depression, suicide attempts, and resulted in PTSD. She was sat next to me, when speaking about this. I was able to validate her trauma, her suicidal state and the effects of PTSD, without actually saying I have endured this too. I was so glad she felt able to share this, and that the group is safe enough for women to share.
Another lady became upset sharing about her marriage breakdown and stress at not having a job to care for her children. She was obviously distressed and I offered empathic support. I also messaged her later on and let her know I am there for her and I am glad she felt able to share. She was really appreciative of this.
I have made a conscious choice to ensure only decent people are part of my ladies group and several women have shared their life issues and health problems. That matters.
My efforts and empathy have resulted in this being a safe group. And even though I don’t share about my stuff, I am so glad other women are able to – and they receive the understanding and support they deserve.
Good Thing No 3.
One of the woman I know at my younger son’s school, was clearly upset by a post in the school’s Facebook group – which was about a shooting incident near the school. This parent was annoyed and distressed at this information being shared in this group. And I know why – because she has anxiety (and possibly PTSD) after being carjacked at gun point a few years ago. I knew she had anxiety before I knew about the carjacking. I pick up on people’s mannerisms, body language etc. And I guessed it was likely due to trauma.
The comments she put on the school group page, would be considered ‘dramatic’ and ‘over the top’, by many people. In fact, there were comments by others with that attitude. And one mocking her. I knew this was upsetting her, I could tell by her comments. I’m not close to this parent, so I deliberated for a while, about checking to see if she was okay. I decided to send a message, and she was really thankful and said I was the only person who realised her comments were more than just a ‘rant’. I said I knew she had endured trauma, and the effect of that being fear and anxiety. She said she hides her anxiety well, but she knows she couldn’t hide it from me.
I was glad I decided to message her. My empathy wanted to let her know, I knew she was feeling fear and anxiety. And that I was not judging her for her reaction to this obvious trigger of the trauma she endured. She was very grateful and said she would like to talk to me more. She knows I ‘get’ it.
All of these situations happened, due to my empathy and insight. I am glad I could help, in ways that are meaningful to people, who need support.
I’m very aware my life and all that has occurred in it, is able to be used for good. Both online, and offline.
I’m aware – I choose to use what I have endured, to help others. To model empathy. To show support. To be there for people. And I am teaching and modelling this to my children.
I don’t like or appreciate phrases like ‘the silver lining’ or insinuations that I ‘needed to be abused’ so badly – to then use it to help others.
I did not need or deserve a single second of anything I have endured.
But, it happened and I will use for good. As much as I am able.
I’ve been there for other people my entire life. Since childhood, I have been taking care of people.
Now, I just try to do it, with better boundaries and self care. And not help others in a way that is detrimental to myself.
~ Lilly Hope Lucario
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