I think at the beginning I was really sad every time I heard a painful story, a sadness I brought back with me and struggled to come to terms with.
Somehow I learned to shelve my feelings aside while asking questions, because it was interfering too much. My emotions were dragging my thoughts down and I couldn't do what I needed to do—and then what would be the point? What's the point of empathy without effect? I would be empathetic, but useless; and I hated being useless more than I hated being emotionless.
After doing what I needed to do I felt the slow but unstoppable wave of feelings, and in the mixture there was always guilt for having built a dam in the first place. But even though I didn't process the emotions, it's not as if I stopped feeling. I stopped the flow of the river, but I didn't get rid of the water. It's hard to explain. But I suppose that's why even at the time, when I 'didn't feel anything', my voice started shaking—wavering like seaweed underwater, and I couldn't understand why. Until an hour later.
I guess I really do feel...an inexplicable emotion...like I want to physically raise you up from your hell. I want to help you. I want to let you talk, because you have not talked about this for all the years since it began. I want to listen to you say as much as you want, because I think this is what you need. Of course you need other things, like therapy, medications, perhaps social support, and tools to cope. But before all that—and I think it will all be useless if we don't do this first—I think you need someone to hear you and your story for the first time.
'I want to help you' may not be a feeling, but I can find no other way to express the emotions that made my voice shake or my chest hurt. I don't feel sorry for you. I don't pity you. Pity is a horrible emotion, because it means that I think you can't be helped, it means at some level I scorn you; it is something I hope never to feel...I never want to lose my respect for a human being.
Well...it wasn't easy. But I feel like...this is...something I want to do in the future. This kind of consultation. I remember when I first entered medicine, they told us to write down why we wanted to be doctors, and I wrote "because I want to ease pain and suffering." There are many ways to do this (as I have found), but this is the way that means the most to me, because I am the kind of person who believes that emotional and mental pain can destroy a person more surely than the physical kind; I believe that this is the pain that is hardest to heal and therefore more satisfying to resolve...
It's been a strange and wonderful kind of day, and I just want to finish it with some stuff. And then sleep. And then another day tomorrow. (One day we will all separate, won't we? One day soon.) Life goes on.