Monday, January 13, 2014

Empathy fatigue

I couldn't think of a good post title to convey what I'm feeling right now. "Upset" is such a broad term.

I just got back from a dinner with my parents and two couple friends of theirs. I've been trying my best to try to put myself in my parents' position and try to understand why they act and say the things they do. However, this evening, my Dad did something which I am having a hard time accepting.

One of my parent's friends wasn't really aware of my accident, what happened, where I am now. She asked me very politely what was the case with me now. I try to be as honest with myself and with other people about my disability. I didn't go into details, but I started to say that I had an incomplete Spinal Cord Injury that resulted in some paralysis in my left leg. That was it. My father, at this point, interrupted me and told this lady that no, no, no, I just had a weak leg. My Mum then chimed in saying that I lacked sensation in parts of my leg, and then my Dad interjected saying, of course she has sensation, otherwise how could she walk. I stayed silent after this.

When my Dad tries to minimize my injuries like this, it really upsets me. I wonder if he is somehow ashamed of me and trying to hide from people the extent of things. Or if he is somehow in denial over everything and this is his way of dealing with tragedy? In either case, it makes me feel like he doesn't realize or acknowledge my suffering, my journey so far, what I've achieved/overcome. It is strange; on the one hand he will totally over-exaggerate the "adventurous" things I do e.g. travels, sports etc *yawn*. yet he totally plays down my accident/injuries. I understand that it might be a cultural thing; I don't think Asians are particularly good or keen about sharing true anguish. But I don't see any reason not to be completely candid about these things.

My Dad talks about me having a Masters from Stanford, having worked at Google etc etc but I feel like he should be more proud of what I have achieved in the last few years. I don't know why this hurts me so much in particular that I'm crying hard as I type this.

On the car ride back home I tried to tell him that what he did/said upset me. I don't think he could tell the effect of all this and just how upset I was; I tried not to cry because I didn't want to worry/deal with my Dad getting angry at me for crying. My Dad is a wonderful person in many ways, but sensitivity is not a word that he understands.

Amazingly, he respected my wishes not to continue with acupuncture. He tried to talk me into giving it one more go. But I wasn't detecting any improvement whatsoever, I don't believe in it, and it just seemed like a waste of time and money.

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