The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Two Sides of the Coin

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Do you think if we see both sides of the coin we become more rounded with a better understanding of others and increased ability for compassion? Do we need to experience something to fully understand it?

I think that I developed a better understanding of roles and actions and of myself after I experienced them. I was a daughter and then a mother. I was single and then married. I was the employee and then boss. I was employed and unemployed. I was the betrayer and the betrayed. I was the trusting and the distrustful. I was joyous and depressed. I was loved and unloved. I was liked and hated. I was purposeful and aimless. I was kind and mean. I was wanted and unwanted.

My experience of two opposites taught me lessons of the roles and states of being. They gave me a deeper empathy and compassion for those experiencing them. For those I have not experienced, I mentally understand them and have compassion and empathy for people; yet I know that my understanding is not complete. I think that is what support groups offer to people, a chance to share their similar experiences. That is what AA and NA offer my daughter.

I have been the caregiver but never the sick needing the help of a caregiver. My father suffering from Parkinson’s said one day in his last months, “If you loved me, you’d help me.” I cried because he asked me to do something I could not do, though in his situation I might have asked the same thing of my child. I had compassion for his suffering and understood his wish. Mentally and emotionally I understood, but still I was not in his shoes.

Someone accused me of having no compassion recently. I had compassion for that person, as I did for my father. I even have compassion for those I hate, but I push it away. The conflict comes when your compassion does not satisfy that person’s expectations of you. Did my father believe I did not love him and have compassion for him when I could not give him what he asked? Did he believe that was the only way I could show my love?

Yes. I believe you become more complete and compassionate when you see both sides of the coin. I switched roles in my life recently, and my understanding of each side of the coin is now complete. That understanding came at a steep price and caused me pain to examine it. But I needed to experience both sides to grow as a human being.

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