I was watching a documentary the other day about the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Timothy McVeigh was the protagonist and I spent my mind time during the show pondering why he acted as he did and wondering what he hoped to accomplish. I saw all the suffering and the death he wreaked and I didn’t feel anything. I was in analysis mode. I can’t think analytically and empathically at the same time. I often watch documentaries about horrible suffering and I usually just think about stuff and I often feel very little. And then unexpectedly, empathy will wash over me and I get so flooded I can hardly go on with my life and write as I want.
So I talked about this in therapy. I fear I generally lack empathy for people because when I do experience that, it overwhelms me and constrains the things I write and say because I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t like holding back on what I want to write so I am comfortable having few feelings for others. I don’t particularly like 99% of the people I know, there’s just a small portion of humanity I particularly resonate with. Those people I love. I care about them. I do what I can to help them.
Now, as part of my therapy, I’m supposed to experiment with caring about more people.
I haven’t had good experiences feeling deeply for people and trying to help them out. I remember meeting this Holocaust survivor and taking him for a walk. I was so excited about meeting him and being able to help him. He asked me to visit him regularly, but whenever I did (I tried about three times), he was always more interested in something else such as the TV.
It seems to me that most people I’ve known who seem most in need of help are running some sort of scam to suck you in and when you help them, you only encourage their dysfunction.
I told a friend today I’m going to try caring. He said: “That’s like giving Hitler bar mitzvah lessons. What’s in it for you? You just don’t have that capability.”
I know people who make $30 an hour bartending but I fear I don’t have the personality for that. I took a test to see which job I’d be best suited for and it said “Executioner.”