what is it about humans that makes us belittle/minimize someone else’s pain/experience/circumstance, etc. *disclaimer* not everyone does it, and not all the time; but in general, we do.

when I was contemplating leaving the school system, I talked to rich about it at length – as all good little wives should. I LOVED the kids I worked with, and they loved me. I really really liked being there. what I didn’t like: driving the school bus. I disliked it so badly, that it overshadowed my love of the rest of my job.

rich couldn’t understand it. he had been a truck driver for 24 years. in his opinion, driving a school bus was no big deal. but to me, it was a huge deal. I started dreading going to work. sundays were very difficult for me, I would waste them fretting about the coming week. before too long, just seeing a school bus would make my stomach clench.

I knew I had to leave that job if I wanted to keep what was left of my nerves. he still didn’t understand.

I find myself on the other side of the situation now. rich is not a social person. he doesn’t like to engage in conversation with strangers, sometimes not even with people he knows.

right around Christmas, he moved from the dock office, working nights, into the dispatch office, pulling days. the problem is, he has to deal with customers on the phone all day. right many of them are not happy, even downright ugly. this makes his job unpleasant, to say the least.

when he told me tonight that he is actually considering moving back to the dock – nights – so he wouldn’t have to deal with customers, I wasn’t happy. in my opinion, it’s not that difficult to be nice to people. I have always been a customer service mistress master. I will talk to just about anyone, anywhere.

so now I ask myself, why do I have difficulty understanding his botheration, when just a little over a year ago, I was in the same boat.

rich has been a smoker for almost 30 years. his father smoked for several years also, but quit when cigarettes prices reached $1 a pack. he quit cold turkey, and was convinced that anyone who wanted to, could also.

one time he remarked that he had never felt the need to have a smoke upon awaking, like rich does. I remember thinking that meant he had never felt the level of addiction that rich does. I believe that different people have different levels of addiction (as well as pain), and one person can’t necessarily know another’s degree.

over the years I have been told that I’m not really sick/depressed, whatever the case may be, because other people can just “shake it off”. so, after awhile, I just learned not to mention that I had a headache that lasted for several days; I just said I was tired. I don’t remark that I’ve been noticing numbness and a pinching in my arm and pinkie finger; I just ‘shake it off’ and say it was asleep.

when you’ve got other people around who have pain regularly, there’s a certain amount of guilt associated with having your own pain (or maybe that’s what I’ve been taught).

but, to make it worse, I find that alot of times, my first impulse is to play down the next person’s dilemma, probably moreso with my children; and there in lies my question: why do we – in general – do that to each other?

because, really…the severity of your pain, the level of your addiction, the depth of your sorrow…we shouldn’t compare those things, should we?