I wrote many months ago about this in the context of people going through shit in their lives and being able to provide a listening ear and a comforting hug.
I’ve been thinking a lot about divorce. My breakup more than a year ago sent me spiraling downward. Many other things piled on top of that and majorly magnified my problems, but the pain of loss and of missing what had become a part of myself (and then was apart from myself).
Before my experience, I had only a small idea of what type of pain that separation could cause. Because of what I went through I experience so much more pain on behalf of others who have gone through similar separations.
In February, I dated a girl who had been abandoned a year before by her husband of five years. Although she and I separated quickly, (overall neither of us was good for the other) we bonded over our similar pains and were able to provide some amount of healing as we both progressed past some of our own issues.
A few weeks ago, a girl whose courtship I watched progress from first date to marriage moved back into my ward. She and I were never friends, but I was aware of her while we were within our respective relationships.
She was so happy for that whole time she was dating him, and she was so ready to leave the ward. And here we find ourselves single again. I don’t know her story. I don’t know why she’s here. But my heart hurts for her and I can extrapolate a bit of the intense and poignant pain she’s been through. I can’t really say to her how I feel, but I do.
And two nights ago I found out another acquaintance is separated and in the process of getting divorced. And it sounds like a complete mess.
Now I wasn’t a huge fan of this guy in the first place, but I feel for him and for his future former wife. I have to imagine the pain that’s caused by having a child soon to be born that he may never see. But I understand the pain of having something that is part of you being ripped away.
The title of the post implies depression is the causes of this increased empathy. It is. I would feel the pain of others because of my shared/similar experiences. But because my experiences in separation were compounded by the depression and other terrible things I went through, I believe I have a much better understanding of what people around me experience–people I may not have much cared for before I found out about them.
Because of the the depression * separation * other experiences, my ability to empathize is vastly enlarged. I hope it’s worth it when I can be there for someone else.