One evening about a month ago, I asked a close friend to name a strength of mine. His response? Compassion.
“Compassion is the virtue of empathy for the suffering of others. It is regarded as a fundamental part of human love, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism —foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood.” (Wikipedia).
My core belief and life goal is to create and maintain relationships with the people around me. This has no boundaries — it affects my work life, my family life, my personal life, my love life and myself. Compassion is deeply embedded in the foundation of this belief. My compassion, paired with patience, drives me to form loyal relationships: to become the most dependable friend, the person who is there when all others abandon ship, the person who drops personal commitments and plans when you need me. And if you need me, I worry. I worry about you and I take care of you the best ways I know how.
But right now, I need to take care of me. I have let my greatest strength become my strongest vulnerability. My once raging fire is now a little flame.
To describe it in a narrative structure, the little flame inside of me bursts with intensity when I feel restless and bored. The climax is a flight of fancy to abandon everything I know and start new. To run the *%#! away. My falling action is the realization that leaving isn’t practical, nor is it logical. And thus, a well of tears gather under my eyelids, anticipating release but accepting my situation is what it is. So my resolution is to a smile or laugh it off in order to maintain the little flame I have left.
My flame is on a matchstick. There isn’t any wax that drips, collects and reforms to provide foundation and longevity. There aren’t the walls of a lantern to protect the level of brightness and heat. My flame is vulnerable to the exposure of people and situations around me. But that also means I haven’t given up on others — to share whatever light I still have, in hopes to give breath to stronger, warmer flames. I am still here.
My biggest fear is for my compassion to permanently transfer from loyalty to vulnerability and therefore, change the relationships I have with those I care about. I am afraid of losing the people around me because I have let my strength take over and destroy me. I am afraid that with this new knowledge, people will treat or view me differently. I try my best to tell myself that this isn’t true. That those who love me, love me despite my weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
I have taken the right steps in that direction to take care of me. I am realizing it is a much slower process than I ever anticipated. Please know I am living and breathing and will continue to do so. I will stick this out. My good days will far outnumber my bad days again. Please know I am trying. I am trying my best to take care of and love myself better, and to enjoy the good moments when they happen. But also know I am also really good at wearing a smile and pretending I am great. I decided that pretending may not be the healthiest decision right now. Thank you for reading and listening.