I hate the saying: “There’s always someone who has it worse.” It completely minimizes the feelings we have inside about our current situation, no matter how ‘bad’ or ‘not so bad’ it may be.
Minimization kept me from seeking treatment for years and it kept me from owning the severity of my eating disorder. “I’m not that bad,” was the perpetual theme of my eating disorder.
As I went to treatment my ‘not that bad’ mentality exploded. “Look at her,” I would think to myself, “she is really struggling”…”she is thinner”…”she was abused”…the list went on. There was always someone ‘worse off,’ therefore, I should not feel as sad or depressed.
Flash forward to March 2013, two years after treatment, Brene Brown appears on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.
“Compassion is not a pizza. It’s not finite, it’s not like there are only 8 slices of compassion.” – Brene Brown
Compassion is not finite. It goes on forever. Our hearts don’t cap out. We can feel compassion for everyone…even ourselves.
Within the last year, I’ve had two massive wrecking balls crash onto my life’s timeline: my daughter being born three months early and then being diagnosed with cancer at eight months old.
I can’t count how many times I’ve had friends and family tell me something that is going on in their lives and follow it with, ‘…but it is nothing compared to what you are going through.’
They felt such guilt telling me there problems and situations. Why? I have enough room in my heart to handle both. To feel for them and to also feel my sadness and grief. Compassion is not finite. It is not a pizza.
Last week, the compassionate pizza theory was put through the ultimate test. I had been home three days with my Marjorie, when I saw a story pop up on my Facebook Newsfeed. It was about another family whose child was being treated at Wolfson for cancer (the hospital where we are). The two-year old little girl was diagnosed with the exact same type of leukemia that her brother had been fighting for over two years.
The breath was knocked from my stomach as I saw a pictures of this poor mother and her precious children. One baby with cancer is bad enough, but two? I felt sick.
I looked over to my Marjorie asleep in my lap. Our prognosis was good. Our side effects with our second chemo treatment were minimal. I felt pangs of guilt and thought, “Why was I so lucky?”
It was that question that snapped me out of my compassionate pizza stupor.
When did MY world become about being lucky with pediatric cancer prognosis? When did my life go from thanking God for my healthy babies to thanking God that we only have Neuroblastoma 4s?
No. No. No.
Compassion is NOT pizza.
I still get to feel every bit of anger, sadness and devastating grief AND I get to feel for that mother too. I know her heart breaks for my Marjorie just like mine breaks for her Liam and Emma.
Even on the pediatric oncology floor, compassion does not run out. If anything, that is the place where the compassionate pizza theory is blown out of the water each and every day. Compassion oozes out of every door, doctor, nurse and patient. It is a floor filled with so much love, it makes you sometimes forget where you are. Sometimes.
While I can’t get the Smith family out of my head or heart, I also remind myself to not lessen feelings tied to my story. Yes, there will always be someone with a different diagnosis or situation, but that doesn’t make the emotions unimportant.
My heart feels for the Smith family just like it feels for my Marjorie just like it feels for my best friend struggling to find a diagnosis for her son’s skin disorder. When one momma hurts, we all hurt.
There is no need to retract your heart’s emotions so you can feel for another. Compassion is not pizza and you can never run out of slices. The love in our hearts is infinite. You are never not worthy of love and compassion no matter how much ‘worse off’ someone else might seem. I guarantee the person you’re comparing yourself to would feel for your situation just the same. And above all else, don’t let the love run out on the most important person in your life…you.
If you would like to more about the extraordinary Smith family, you can read and support them at Support the Smiths. Please keep Lacey, Will, Liam, Emma and Emma’s twin sister, Ella in your thoughts and prayers. Together they are #SmithStrong