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.