Last week I was looking at whether I feel more alive in a crisis. This week I’m looking at the difference between pity and love.
Then – 4/10/2004
“Journal question – What is the difference between pity and love?
To feel pity for someone is to feel bad for them without having a strong emotional attachment. I can feel pity for people I read about or hear about. When you feel pity it’s because you feel sorry for the person, but there isn’t anything you can do to help them. When you love someone you want to help them however you can. Pity seems detached. I guess I do feel pity for ‘Carl’ because I no longer am in love with him and feel more and more detached from his problems. Love is an investment. Pity is more fleeting.
Now – 8/28/11
Rereading this journal entry, I wasn’t sure where I was going with my answer to the question until I got to the end. Pity had replaced love in my marriage and no amount of therapy was going to bring love back for me. The transitional moment where love turned to pity is difficult to pinpoint but I do remember one particular incident. A requirement for dismissal from the first alcohol rehabilitation facility ‘Carl’ attended was that I join in on a counseling session with ‘Carl’ and his counselor. After agreeing, I had no idea what to expect. The counselor briefly discussed what he had been working on with ‘Carl’ during his 30 day in-house treatment and then asked ‘Carl’ if there was anything he’d like to say. The only thing ‘Carl’ wanted to know was whether our marriage was able to be saved. No mention of his addiction, any realizations he had while away from his children for 30 days in the treatment facility, his plan for abstinence, even an apology for what he had put us through. After hearing what he wanted to know, the first emotion I felt was pity. He was clueless about why we had attended couple’s counseling for a year and a half and the fact that it didn’t help. He was in denial about the damage his secret of alcoholism had done to our family. He was missing the point that sobriety was needed in order to save his life, not our marriage.
Since that day I have had many emotions regarding my marriage, divorce, alcoholism and the person ‘Carl’ still chooses to be. Some days it’s pity, other days it’s detachment. For the sake of my children I continue to attempt civility towards their father because I love them and it’s important to them. Thankfully love is an investment and pity is fleeting.