An Unfortunate Event
My amazing mother has never been able to sit still. She wakes up at 4am practically everyday and not only does she go on a long walk or hike, but then gets home and uses an exercise machine for an hour. Then she’ll start crafting something using her expert sewing skills, or start on her next baking masterpiece. Unfortunately, her being so active and unable to sit still, as she grows older it puts greater strain on the body and mind, and requires her to take more care of it and pay attention every day to what she eats and what she does. Well one day, she woke up at 330 or 4 am when it was still dark, and accidentally stepped wrong going down the unforgiving wooden stairs, and somehow came away with a bad broken foot. As it was in the wee hours of the morning, nobody was awake to help her out, so being a warrior she waited an hour in numbing pain and alerted my father once he woke up. After visiting the doctor, she had found out that she broke a metatarsal bone in her foot, which proved to be a debilitating blow to her active lifestyle. This was not the first time she had ever broken a bone, but was the most mentally draining because at that point, her daily routine was so activity based and her positivism was supported by her ability to enjoy the outdoors, being free and mobile. I could tell that she was extremely disappointed in herself, and shaming herself for “being an idiot” or what not after the fall, and also was overcome with this fear of “what if this happens again” and “what will it take to get back to where I was before”. She fought through it with a positive attitude that impressed me everyday.
Making The Connection
Fast forward to a few years later, actually at the beginning of this summer, and I was out with a group of friends late and riding down the hill on bikes. I was flying down this hill and somehow didn’t see a little chunk of concrete sitting on the side of the road, and next thing I know, I am on the ground 10 feet away from the bike and in a lot of pain. I knew something was wrong and luckily my friends and I were close to my house, so they took me there, cleaned up some cuts on my hands, and I went to sleep. The next morning, I woke up and hadn’t realized the extent of my injuries and when I tried to stand up, shooting pain took over my legs and I fell back onto my bed. I had never previously broken a bone, but I knew it was a possibility now. I called my Mom and said, “I might need you to bring me some crutches,” which was a significant understatement as I had her drive me to the orthopedic ER moments later. I had to use my arms to scoot down the stairs as I couldn’t use my legs. Soon, we found out after some X-Rays that I had broken the middle metatarsal bone in my foot as well as my right fibula. Ill be in a wheelchair for a while now, not being able to do much of anything that I normally was able to do. This caused me to be extremely frustrated with myself and what had happened, and a little frightened and confused with what my near future would hold. Given that my mom had experience a similar injury (although it was only one leg) she was in a position to give me support and understanding after what had happened. Her empathy in this situation was a key to keeping my chin up and seeing the positives in a tough time. It would be easy to just say screw it, and sit around in a funk until the bones healed, but with my mom having had the same experience in the last few years, she was able to effectively communicate to me that it would indeed will be a “hard” and uncomfortable road to recovery, not just an overnight miracle.
I had been in a tough spot, but having this deep sense of connection from my mother, who had experienced and suffered from a very similar incident previously, gave me positive outlook on a deeper emotional level, that couldn’t be matched by anyone else. She told me things everyday like, “you’re makin’ progress!”, or consistently reassuring me that if I follow the doctors recommendations then I will be better off. There is a huge difference between having my mother, whom I trust and respect, versus a stranger saying, “I’m sorry man, feel better. I remember once when I broke my leg, it sucks…” which is an example of sympathy, and not nearly effective as an empathetic, emotional connection from someone you know and love. When I think about the difference between this example of empathy and the idea of giving sympathy, they are worlds apart, and it especially reminds me of when people who when they find out that I am also a Type 1 Diabetic, they act like they a deep concern and say things like, “Man thats hard, at least you don’t have Type 2…” which, like Brene Brown, drives disconnect because it gives off an unnecessary and fake sense of kindness.