Relationships are more work than any other effort we make. Jobs, if you’re fortunate, take up roughly forty hours of your week and pay for your basic needs and a few luxuries. But relationships; friendships, marriages, family dynamics; are difficult, emotional, but rewarding lifelong efforts.

I’ve thought a lot about relationships over the last few months and thought a lot about why I’ve thought so much about them. What I’ve concluded is that the one commonality that draws me to work so much harder to make a relationship work or can absolutely tear a relationship apart, is the presence, or absence, of empathy.

Empathy is the ability and willingness to feel another person’s pain, experience their joy and know what it is to truly be that person for a moment in time. It can be a terrible curse or immense blessing in the same breath.

The new relationships I’ve made and the friendships I’ve maintained are the reason I can call myself a survivor. If it weren’t for those close to me constantly driving me to better with their actions, helping me to move forward with their words and helping me heal with their memories, I could not have the strength, courage or hope to someday be whole again.

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