I have what can only be described as an over-sensitive sense of empathy. This is especially apparent when I am watching movies. I can find a reason to cry during the course of most movies. Last week the Hoos and I watched literally only the last five minutes of the movie Hardball and I bawled the entire time. True, I have seen the movie before and we did come in at an especially moving part (poor G-Baby), but still, most people wouldn't necessarily breakdown.
Crying while watching sad movies is generally accepted in our society; unfortunately I don't stop at crying. There are actually some movies that I can not watch because I can't tolerate characters setting themselves up for embarrassment. I refuse to watch any movie in the Meet the Parents franchise and I had to leave the room several times during American Pie. Borat, which features real people, not actors, in embarrassing situations is on the top of the verboten list. Maybe some people find it funny, but I can't get past what I perceive as the cruelty of the situation. Just anticipating the humiliation someone is about to experience makes my heart ache.
Talkies are not the only medium that bring out my empathetic side. There are even some books that I have to put down and walk away from because I get uncomfortable (e.g., She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb). Maybe this is a sign of a well-written novel? I just finished a book, Nineteen Minutes, that took me much longer than usual to get through. It focuses on a bullied teenager who unleashes a Columbine-like response on his school. The fear and rejection experienced by this poor, tortured kid was palpable. I could almost forgive him for his "transgressions," except, of course, that he murdered 10 of his classmates as a response.
I don't know why exactly I am so empathetic. I was not picked on any more than usual as a kid. I certainly wasn't in "the popular crowd" although I do regret treating others with even lesser status than me poorly. I particularly dwell on elementary school, since I think at some point in junior high I started to be more sensitive. I only hope that Barbara, an overweight girl that was in my first or second grade class, has forgiven me for going along with the crowd and isolating her.
In order to redeem myself, my goal is to help my daughter be strong and confident, so that she can stand up to bullies, not only for herself but for others. I hope that she is the rule and not the exception in this regard and that the world of school becomes less cruel in this post-9/11, post-Columbine world.... A girl can hope, can't she?