Can you replace the empathy gene?

I think I know what is killing me. It is pussy footing around other people’s emotions. Particularly, the hubs.

For months now, I have been in agony. Seriously… body pain that makes me feel like I wish I was in childbirth. I mean, that actually ends. The past few weeks, I’ve had a noticeable limp and if you could see my face, you’d recommend Botox. Not because I’m old, but because I’m getting that old guy “wince” face. Picture Popeye, minus the crystal meth… oh I mean spinach.

Pardon me, I digress. I’m in a predicament. I need help and I don’t know how to get it.

In addition to the limping, wincing and groaning. I have been open about my pain. Occasionally in tears, but mostly in adult tone, I have broken down and spoken openly about my fears about losing my mobility, the fatigue of never sleeping or being pain-free, the need for some relief… a break… something… To me, this adult tone is a way of sharing myself. I’ve worked hard to learn to be vulnerable to others. I have learned to ask for help, which is never easy. However, these comments seem to either get absorbed into the ether or they are accepted as mere proclamations. Too often they are countered with “you should see someone about that”, “can’t you take something for that?”, or more coarsely “what is wrong with you now?” Typically, it’s just an acknowledging grunt. Grunts that (to me) communicate “I have heard that words are coming from your mouth, but it is not nearly as important to me as watching Sports Center or Jaws for the 953rd time”. In no way is it the empathetic “I hear you, I’m sorry to hear that, or how can I support you” that I need.

Like so many moms, I get the crummy jobs, the ones that cause fights, delays and very precious moments. (To give you a better idea of what I mean here: I wake up our daughter, try to get her to use the potty, change her diaper, feed her breakfast, dress her, pack her lunch, wrestle with her to brush her teeth and floss, brush her hair, get her out the door and into the car, drop her off at daycare, pick her up at daycare, try to get her to use the potty, change diapers, cook dinner, pick up the house, bathe her, do the potty/diaper thing, play/color/dance with her, give her 3 medications, potty/diaper thing, put her jammies on, and read, sing, snuggle her until she gets to sleep). It’s not that he doesn’t do anything, it’s just that he rarely does much. I feel sad that he misses out on these because this is what really knowing your kid is all about. Truthfully however, I mostly do it out of rote, with a heaping helping of resentment.

Short of being asinine about my needs, I’m unsure of where to go from here. I ask for help and more often than is helpful, I get the following; the eye roll, the tooth suck and quite honestly, a half-assed effort. All with a bunch of yelling thrown in for good measure when both my 3-year-old and my 40-year-old decide to act like 3 year olds. Truthfully, it is easier on me to just do it myself. However, here is the rub. Now that my body is struggling to physically “do” such things, I may need to rely on some help. Unfortunately, it does not make it any easier to put up with the reaction to the request. Doing what is best for me has a price of it’s own that appears to be too high for me to stay well.

What is missing in this guy? Where is that gene, chromosome, or learned social skill that reflexively calls you into action to help or at least offer assistance? Has constant TV watching irradiated that from his system? Was he dropped on his head as a baby? How can a man who nearly wept at the dinner table a few weeks ago when he learned that a famous baseball player lost his baby within days of birth, watch his wife, who can barely walk, carry in all the groceries from the car without even rising from his chair? How can he watch me get up and down off the floor 10 times a night to play or change diapers and never once put down the iPad? Can he not see what he is missing out on? Furthermore, how can a man who doesn’t ask how your day was, profess to actually love you? Isn’t this the “in sickness and in health” thing he agreed to?

Well… I sure can tell you what I am sick of. I’m sick of needing a village and only having an idiot.


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