Why Isn’t My ‘Give A Damn’ Ever Broken?

Have you ever heard someone say “My ‘give a damn’ is broken.”? I’m guessing you have, and I’m guessing that unless it was directed at you specifically, you probably thought it was pretty funny. And it is. It’s a funny little saying. Unfortunately, despite how much I adore repeating funny little sayings that I hear, I’ve never once been able to say this. Why? Because my ‘give a damn’ is NEVER broken. I always give a damn. Even when I shouldn’t, even when it hurts me, even when all logic dictates I should immediately stop giving damns, I still give them. I give all the damns. All the time.

It’s exhausting. And I would very much like to be able to not give a damn sometimes.

Why isn’t my ‘give a damn’ ever broken? Well, I think the scientific-ish answer to that is that since I was a little girl my capacity for empathy was off the charts. It was first noticed when I was 9 and we watched a video about slavery in America in class – I couldn’t stop crying I was so appalled at the brutality and discrimination I was seeing on the screen, I was so upset the teacher sent me to the counselor who promptly started testing me for all kinds of disorders. Many tests later, she declared me “the most empathetic child she’s ever known” and gave herself a pat on the back. Then, in high school, I was tested again and my results were used in a study because I tested higher than any one else my age for empathy. Same thing happened when I went to University. My University made us take a personality quiz when we registered to assess what our 3 greatest strengths were and of course, empathy was my number 1 by a landslide. So, you know, I guess you could say I’m empathetic and that’s why my ‘give a damn’ isn’t broken. Ever.

And most of the time, I’m really thankful for my empathetic nature. I think on most days that it’s a strength and it’s something I’m proud of being a part of me. But some days, days when I need to protect myself, days when I know I need to turn off my ‘give a damn’ if only to give myself a moment to breathe, it’s hard. It’s exhausting. It feels like I’m weak and incapable of controlling my emotions and feelings. It makes me feel overly vulnerable and exposed.

And, to be honest, I’m not sure why I’m writing this post, except that by putting it into words, sharing my thoughts on it, makes me feel more in control of it. It helps me understand it. And it helps me, for a few minutes at least, to ignore the ‘give a damn’ alarm that’s going off in my brain about something I know I need to let go.

So, thanks for reading. For listening. For giving a damn.

25 thoughts on “Why Isn’t My ‘Give A Damn’ Ever Broken?

  1. I have always considered myself empathetic but I doubt I have reached the level you are at. It’s a blessing and a curse. But I think it’s more of a blessing. I can’t help but think how much better the world could be if people had more empathy. I hope your “give a damn” stays unbroken πŸ™‚

  2. Like when you walk into a store. And there’s nobody shopping in there but you. And the shopkeeper looks kind, but bored and lonely. And then you feel all upset. Because you don’t want the shopkeeper to go bust and lose his/her livelihood. And then you have to buy something, even though you don’t actually want anything in the store…….Arghhhh yep I get you on this one 100%!

  3. I seriously wish there would be more people like you around. In my experience there are way too many people out there who either genuinely don’t care or pretend to, and I can’t stand this kind. So thank you for being the way you are and keep your chin up, you are appreciated by some.

  4. That’s amazing, and although it must be a massive issue sometimes so many people just grow older get hurt themselves and then learn not to care. That’s probably why things don’t change, people forget to give a damn. So the fact you still do and have done for such an extent is pretty incredible! So while I hope you don’t get upset because you care its lovely that you do πŸ™‚

    • I feel ya- but I know in my heart that it’s not. It really is a unique quality that can actually help people so even though it gets hard sometimes, trust me, it’s not a disadvantage. πŸ™‚

  5. The problem with a “Never broken Give a Damn” is that your “Give a Damn” will start to beat you down until you resent those who’s Damn’s you’ve been Giving about. Be careful not to go too far because those that always counted on you to Give a Damn for them may end up scorned and witnessing this might actually finally break your “Overused Give a Damn”

  6. My give-a-damn never seems to break either…until it is too late. In November 2011, I burnt out because I gave too many damns about others, at the expense of myself. It’s not easy for it to break (especially for someone as empathetic as you are), but you can learn to switch it off every now and then.

  7. Oh girl, I feel you on this. I’m not sure if my empathy is at your levels (actually, i know it’s not. a former therapist told me i was borderline anti-social, but i think she was wrong), but i’m a movie crier, other-peoples-loved ones crier, dog-dying crier… really any sad situation that i hear about, tears usually follow. I think it’s an awesome trait to have. Keep on keeping on!

  8. I loved this entry. It reminded me of this quotation from Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Everything Is Illuminated: β€œWhen I was a girl, my life was music that was always getting louder.
    Everything moved me. A dog following a stranger. That made me feel so much. A calendar that showed the wrong month. I could have cried over it. I did. Where the smoke from a chimney ended. How an overturned bottle rested at the edge of a table.
    I spent my life learning to feel less.
    Every day I felt less.
    Is that growing old? Or is it something worse?
    You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”

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