Take offense. Someone will take offense at what I write. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but soon.
And I’ll be honest. I won’t get it. I’ll try but I won’t understand.
What’s important to understand is that I’m a very empathetic person. Too empathetic for my own good, really. I can readily (though not always) identify with a person’s emotional state. Now, I don’t always condone the emotion I’m empathizing with but I can usually comprehend why it is occurring.
But if you’re offended, you’re out of luck. My intention is not to be cold or harsh. I want to empathize with this. But I can’t. I didn’t even know I couldn’t until today.
I was doing a writing exercise for a project I am working on. Some free writing. Take a word and just riff on it. I had a list of emotions I wanted to practice verbalizing. I grabbed the first one: abandonment. I went on for a page. I could have gone longer but I think I had achieved what I wanted.
I grabbed the next word on the list of emotions: offended. Dead air. Radio silence. Whatever you want to call it. I had nothing.
I could think of topics people might find offensive. I could not, however, conjure a feeling of being offended. I could not imagine what that was supposed to feel like. I did not know.
I could be angry. Maybe insulted. But not offended. Why not? Why can’t I muster that feeling?
I got thinking that maybe it’s because being offended is a choice. Then I thought maybe all emotions fall into this category. That was kind of an eye opener. How much do we get to choose how we emotionally react to the world around us? But that’s another subject altogether.
Then I thought choice is often a matter of habit. We make choices because of engrained habits even though we often don’t know we’re doing it. Habits are powerful.
I made a conscious decision years ago not to be offended by other people behaviors. I wasn’t going to allow others’ behaviors make me feel negative. I would not let them have control over me. So when it came to offense I did that. And it became a habit. And as the habit became stronger the knowledge of what the emotion of being offended was just faded away.
So, I don’t know what offended is any more. So I can’t empathize with you when you are feeling offended. I feel bad about that but it can’t be helped.
Now for good or bad I haven’t exhibited that kind of habit forming control over other emotions. So I’m not a flat-liner yet and you can still expect some empathy form me.