Teach Me Empathy

A little while back I threw myself into a project that terrified me. After multiple attempts at joining my writing with another’s, and being burnt every time, I once again gave it a shot. I wrote to a woman here on WordPress, someone whose poetry was unspeakably beautiful, and asked to write a duet with her. I could only be speaking of the wonderfully talented Hastywords.

I didn’t get burned in the process. She was amazing. In fact, you can see our masterpiece here on her site.

By the time this was finished, I had both of her books on my Kindle and she had mine and we were happily diving into the world each other had painted.


I had to start at the beginning. I picked up Darker Side of Night and went through my nightly routine.

Fill the bathtub.

Pour some wine.

Soak away all the crap of the day.

Focus on someone else’s words instead of my own.

A couple of hours later, with stone-cold water and skin that was wrinkled past any redemption lotion could offer, I stepped out from the tub smiling. Page after page of beautiful prose, heartbreaking honesty, and a braveness I envied. Her words swept me away and carried me long into the next day.

I thought, not for the first time, that I should be proud of myself for being able to keep up in that duet with her. I had a complete and utter fan girl moment, the delight of reading her words, becoming a friend with someone capable of making every line of prose a praise to the love of words.

And then I read her second book.



Let me say, before I even begin talking about Depression’s Dance that I am not a great person. Truly. I have moments of failure just like everyone else. My mother suffers from depression. I’m not always as supportive as I could be. There are times when the caustic words, “Are you taking your medicine?” slip from my mouth. There are times I roll my eyes, or turn my back when she is falling apart and doesn’t know why.

I think, I know when I am sad. I know WHY I am sad. How could you not know? How could you just wake up sad? It doesn’t compute. Doesn’t make sense.

I told you I’m not a good person. Understanding is a fickle thing. You see, unless a person has lived through/with something, they can never really understand. Not truly.

In Depression’s Dance, Hasty gave a voice to depression. She allowed her reader a chance to snoop and spy. For a few hours, I was permitted to sit down at the table, quietly listen to a conversation that has probably played multiple times through anyone’s mind that suffers from this disease. Her words allowed me a moment to really, truly listen. To hear. Perhaps not to understand, but to at least feel empathy.

She taught me empathy.

And so I hope that others will pick this book up. I hope they will take a moment and allow themselves to listen to this conversation. I try to remember it now. I keep going back to it. I need to keep that lesson in mind. I need to keep my empathy close at hand.

I need to apologize to my mother.

To friends, to anyone, who hears this voice inside them. I am sorry.

But bear with me.

I’m learning.



53 responses to “Teach Me Empathy”

  1. Reblogged this on Hastywords and commented:
    I am speechless and overwhelmingly happy to read this review. My greatest hope in writing Depression’s Dance was to shed a little bit of light on how LOUD depressions voice could be. Thank you so much Laura for reading and for listening. xoxo And for the record Imagine Dragons: Demons is one of my favorite songs.


  2. It’s one of my favorites as well and it kept playing through my head as I wrote this. I suppose it seemed fitting to me. Keep up the good work, you are making waves and someone needed to 😀


  3. Depressions are never fun and can run so deep blood is spilled.
    cloaked in darkness and nobody really understanding. or listening.
    Voices keep screaming but cannot be conveyed across to those we love.
    It hurts and gets us deeper.:D

    What a wonderful positive review.
    i think the honest and raw stories work in such a way it makes you part of it and felt.
    Nicely done there. Making me smile. On ripple can be carried across a pond and reached out to many. on the other side.

    keep on smiling ladies.


  4. Ergh, depression is a terrible monster when it rears up its ugly head. I call my bouts “self-inflicted pity parties.” Sometimes that helps, otherwise it’s pills. Prescribed, of course. Actually, I’ve weened myself off of all medications except the occasional small dose of Lorazepam. Let’s see how the doc likes that when I see her next week.


  5. Hasty is indeed a very gifted poet and an amazing person. She is beautiful both inside and out, and I’m forever grateful to count her amongst my friends. I have had the opportunity to write with her a few times and I have the same feelings you did. I always feel like I’m bringing her down because she’s so much more talented.


  6. great post. however, i got something totally different from it. i’ve been wanting to ‘duet’ with another blogger for some time now. i just didn’t want to sound like some groupie whore, so i never asked. maybe, just maybe you have given me the courage to ask. all she can say is no and un-Follow me right?


  7. Hasty is a fantastic poet. I’ve enjoyed her stuff for a while now.
    It doesn’t surprise me that you could find something relatable in her words, much as we do in yours.


  8. It is good of you to admit your shortcomings via a vis empathy, darling. I suffer from depression, and the greatest frustration is that people don’t understand. Instead of understanding, they react with a mix of skepticism or annoyance, or worse, pity.


    • Hey, I’m a work in progress. I always hated that saying, “Walk a mile in another’s shoes.” I can’t. But I can try to be there, I can work on how I react to others, I can learn empathy.


  9. I’ve not read, Hasy’s first book yet, but I’m waiting see what’s next post “Depression’s Dance”. Being aware of depression, I think is better than trying to understand all aspects, variables are never fixed across the moments it travels, or its volume. Duets are a fun way experiment with conversation in verse (thought), a poem can come out from beneath varied origins, and map, explore places not seen when writing alone in isolation. Keep seeking out writers you’d like to write with from time to time, and have fun.

    Totally loved your take on Hasty’s books, and writing, the approach you take when writing through a personal perspective to how it relates to your relationships with your mother, and others in experiences, empathy, awareness.


  10. I went searching my stats for a new app I am trying to load and saw a click to my site from here and after our convo earlier…it is weird. This love…exactly what I needed. I had no idea there were more comments and I am so blessed to have such a great group of bloggy friends.


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