Lydia looked very disturbed when she walked in for her session. She said her friend’s parents were seriously ill from Covid. But her sadness did not stem from the parents’ condition or her friend’s situation. She was sad because she could not empathise. She, in fact, continued to have a general conversation with her friend (after listening to her friend’s news) till she was requested to postpone their conversation to a later date when her friend could be in a better frame of mind. Lydia was embarrassed with her insensitivity and for the first time she was aware of her inability to empathise. She was left wondering if she could not empathise in general or was this just towards this particular situation.
For Lydia, if her parents died today she would see it as an inconvenience rather than a loss. She would now have to sort out the cremation rituals and the finances. It was very difficult for Lydia to open up and admit her true feelings towards her parents. She was in pain as she spoke and found it very difficult to believe she was so heartless.
As a child Lydia’s parents took care of her needs. They feed, clothed, sent her to school and took care of her when she was ill. But she had no emotional connection with her parents. Her mom was strict and disciplined. Showed no affection or love. She hated hugs or touches. Her dad was kind but not someone she spent time with or interacted. He got her things and that was it.
Her relationship today with her parents was very similar to her childhood. There was no real connection. She spoke to them regularly but her calls to them were more driven by duty rather than concern or love. Lydia had never felt love for her parents.
At this point something I read came to mind and I shared it with Lydia to get her point of view. The article was about losing parents and the author’s sorrow of losing a trusted someone for advise or to discuss life choices and decisions with or someone to connect on a deeper level without inhibitions. With the loss of his parents, the author found himself alone and having to walk the rest of his life without his adviser, guide and friend.
Lydia was deeply moved and wished she had parents with whom she could share her life problems and difficulties. She had never once, as an adult, asked her parents for their opinion, never once had gone to them for advise or never once spoken to them openly. She really had never attempted at a connection because she never knew how to.
Her sadness had shifted. It was no longer about her inability to love but her misfortune. She was deeply saddened by the thought that she had missed out on a whole lot of love and compassion – giving and receiving.