Empathy finale: Part III

A LOT of Help — from friends
both near and far

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Walking a Mile Series – Part III, conclusion
Part I HERE; and Part II HERE

“There, but for the grace of God, go I”

We each have the power to change the world for someone

Our society has become very self-focused in the 30 years between my first and last experience with broken bones and lack of autonomy. I may not be able to do much to change it, but I am driven to name it and to speak out against it, especially in today’s political climate.

Perhaps the posting of this 3-part article will turn out to be the silver lining to the cloud of an unbelievably challenging several years of my already challenging life.

Perhaps the world will be just a little bit softer and more supportive, thanks to the efforts of those of you who have taken time from your lives to read it — in any number of arenas, but certainly in that of reaching out to help someone alone and in need.

Time creeps for those awaiting attention or help, especially once autonomy has been stripped.

I hope that reading my story will encourage ALL of you to set aside a moment to pay a bit of kind attention to anyone in your lives who has been waiting for someone to have time for them.

Attempt to cheer them up without making them wrong for needing cheering. Simply listening (without “up-languaging”) is a very kind thing to do and easy to extend, even if you are unable to manage more practical assistance.

As I have said in each of the three parts of this article, I am posting it NOW to put a human face on the reality that we all need to increase our willingness to get involved, before the next DSM is forced to add a new category: EDD – Empathy Deficiency Disorder.

My second experience is coming to a close, thanks to a dear couple several states away, more disposed to empathy than sympathy. They insisted on making the TEN HOUR drive to bring me back home with them — to help me heal emotionally as much as physically.

Again, as you read, I want you to keep in mind that, as disturbing as my experience certainly was, it pales in comparison to what many folks must overcome every day of their lives, and what many of our neighbors may shortly be facing unless enough of us step up and sing out.

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

Gang-mugged at gunpoint

In a single moment, my life changed forever.

For those who haven’t read Part-I or Part-II, I will quickly bring you up to speed: I was gang-mugged at gunpoint.

Only one result was an extremely bulky cast on my arm covering all but the tips of the fingers on a badly crushed dominant hand. For three long and difficult months it was not safe for me to drive.

For almost two solid months post-mugging, primarily due to a protracted period of snow and ice, I was practically in “solitary confinement,” stuck with a temporary replacement phone that rarely worked reliably. (It would take several lengthy trips to the Apple store over many months to finally obtain my fourth iPhone that continued to work beyond a few weeks!)

I was unable to type or journal my thoughts to help me center or attempt to make sense of my experience and my extreme reactions to it.


Once the cast was finally on my badly broken dominant hand and I returned home, there was no one I knew locally willing or able to take the time to help me do the many things that needed to be done.

Replacing my stolen medication, shopping for food or coffee for alertness, even taking my garbage down the icy steps and into the trashcan for pickup, were only some of the many things I could no longer do without help I rarely had.

A total stranger I’d barely met by phone was kind enough to volunteer to pick me up and drive me to my return appointment at the monthly hand clinic so that I could get the next stage of xrays, driving in from a nearby city. If not for her kindness, it would have been yet another month before my bulky cast could be replaced by the removable one that allowed me to do a few simple things for myself once more.

And I was afraid

  • I was unable to fall asleep when it was dark out, and too exhausted to stay awake in the daylight, which isolated me further.
  • After a college friend in whom I felt safe confiding said she would have to call me back and didn’t, I became afraid to admit how bad things were getting to the few people who connected with me after that — until, that is, it became impossible to have a conversation that didn’t lead to tears I couldn’t always conceal.
  • By then I was a mess, and couldn’t figure a way out of the downward spiral. I was afraid of making any decision at all, lest I somehow make things worse. I knew I probably couldn’t survive WORSE.

Halting the downward spiral

A loving, spiritually-based friend 10 car-trip hours away called and said that, unless I absolutely forbade it, she and her husband were coming to take me back with them to take care of me and help me heal emotionally.

They were willing to make the trip again to return me in time for my next appointment with the hand clinic, almost a month away.

As I disclosed in an early article about PTSD, When Fear Becomes Entrenched and Chronic, as much as I truly needed help, I felt guilty accepting it.

After a few false starts . . .

I finally arrived at a home that didn’t look like a bag-lady lived there, and where I felt safe. My friends made sure I had three meals each day, and that the food I ate was healthy. My steady weight-loss halted. I no longer jumped at every noise I heard, or worried how I would manage to cope.

They kept my spirits up with company and conversation
– there were trips out and about in their fair city –
and there was finally laughter in my life again.

I was MUCH calmer and more focused from the very moment they arrived in Cincinnati, actually. The coffee they took me to buy helped quite a bit – I’d been out for a while, unable to get to a store.

Before leaving Cincinnati, these angels on earth drove me to the bank to activate the new debit card attached to the new account I was forced to open, so that I finally had a way to pay the bills that were due and overdue.

We spent much of the remainder of the day after they arrived driving from place to place so that I could pay those bills in cash, to further allay my concerns that something more would go wrong while I was away.

They closed my bulging suitcases and put them in their car, lovingly helping me navigate my way into the back seat. Their patience with me was legion – and I will be forever in their debt.

The Trip Back

My friends both fell ill toward the end of my stay — not well enough to manage the ten-hour car trip as planned (10 hours EACH way!). Getting myself back to Cincinnati turned out to be the only bump in the road during my entire stay.

  • My appointment at the once-a-month Hand Clinic mandated my own return on schedule and, checking out options, a l-o-n-g bus trip turned out to be the only way to get it done.
  • Had any of us anticipated a bus ride, I would not even have considered taking several suitcases with me, even for a month-long stay. But the angels smiled once again.

The other passengers were incredibly helpful. I could never have managed without their kindness.

It brought tears to my eyes to see how cheerfully these total strangers, many exhausted from even longer bus rides themselves, were willing to provide it.

Several delays en route left me hustling to make my doctor’s appointment – and I arrived at the hospital only minutes before the Clinic closed that morning. It seems that they were running a bit late themselves, and were kind enough to stay later still to attend to my needs. Another gift from above and from them.

Since Greyhound rousted us off the bus to stand in line to reboard at every pitsy stop, I was running on only two hours of sleep since the night before the evening I boarded that bus. Once I made it back to my apartment, I was bushed!

But I was coping well enough, the snow was gone, spring was finally in the air, and I believed I could do whatever I needed to do for myself, even though my now cast-free hand was still not fully functional and ached a bit from overuse.

I slept the sleep of the angels, blissfully unaware of what was still to come.
I was totally unprepared for the next big bombshell.

Skipping the minors to get to the majors

My landlady sent me a letter saying that she decided not to rent to me anymore — I had 30 days to pack, find another place to live, and vacate, or she would proceed to legal eviction.

In this city, a legal eviction on my record meant that it would have been impossible to find anyone who would rent to me ever again – and there was NO way I could manage the long-distance move I would have preferred.

I was given a bogus story about renovating the kitchen in that unit, but I will always believe she was afraid that I might take legal action to recover some of the damages to my life if I were left alone to think about it. Ours was the darkest house on an already dark block lit primarily by gaslight, since she had long neglected repairing the electric lights leading to the building from the street.

Details unnecessary

If you’ve ever had to pack and move an almost totally disorganized home, suddenly or otherwise, I don’t have to tell you how daunting it is – even with two good hands, and without the backlog of my experience in the three months prior.

Many of my Christmas decorations were still up, for heaven sakes!

I won’t describe the details of my struggles as I attempted to relocate in a rush: packing all my belongings, searching for a place to move TO, handling leasing and funding details, locating movers for the items too heavy to manage otherwise (and a hastily rented storage space), cleaning both old and new apartments, setting up new services, building shelves and retrofitting closets, unpacking — ALL in the face of rapidly dwindling financial and energy reserves

The greater point is that, without help and kindness I would, no doubt, have been forced to leave behind most of my wordly goods – and who knows where or how I would be living now.

Any help I have been able to extend
here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
would simply not have been possible
had I been left to handle things on my own.

One of my brothers quickly mobilized to help me manage financially, and Peggy Ramundo stepped in for yeoman’s duty, taking charge of many of the physical elements involved. She was inspired to help me, despite the fact that she was – and still is – reeling from the murder of her son.

It was a far from perfect move, I am STILL dealing with details resulting from the combined challenges of over seven months that rendered me unable to work, and I doubt I would have chosen the apartment in which I am still living had I sufficient time to recover and plan.

However, many things that seemed absolutely impossible were made possible ONLY because others stepped up to offer help.

And for that I will always be very, VERY grateful.

I’ll leave you with this

For the last time in this article, I want to remind everyone reading that, as daunting as my experience certainly was, it was absolutely nothing in comparison to what many people must live with every single day, and what many who were not born in this country may shortly be facing — unless enough of us step up and sing out.

Who knows who they will go on to help
with a little bit of kindness and support from the rest of us.

© 2017, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”
(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)

Much appreciation to writer/publisher Sally Cronin for promoting all three parts of this story on Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – 5th April 2017, along with articles by Robbie Cheadle, ALK3r, and, Ned Hickson that are all WELL worth reading.

If you don’t already follow Sally, you are missing one of the most eclectic and interesting blogs on the web.

Thanks also to John Fioravanti for his help spreading the empathy message to his community by reblogging each part of this story as it was published. A writer and educator, his blog, Words to Captivate, is another blog I recommend reading and following, by the way.

I also must express my gratitude to Kate McClelland, who has shared MANY of my posts with her large community – along with those of a great many fascinating bloggers. A content curator of the first order, she is worth reading and following for her own posts in their own right – and I hope you will.

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IN ANY CASE, do stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

123 Responses to Empathy finale: Part III

  1. Wow!! I didn’t realize!! No wonder you have been so overwhelmed! Thank God for kindness of friends, and even strangers!!
    I have nominated you for a Blogger Recognition award.
    I hope you can accept it!

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. CalicoJack says:

    Howdy Madelyne!

    Wow, what a story… both of them. We are indeed social creatures and community, connection, and helping are extremely important to us all. I am grateful you had the help you needed. Living overseas as I do, I really understand the necessity of the help of strangers or acquaintances when trouble falls. Nothing is worse than being sick and either getting no help or feeling a burden when asking for help.

    My trip out to Western China in the Muslim-based culture of the Uigars really showed how our humanity transcends our culture, language, ethnicity, or anything else that we see as ways of separating ourselves. I helped a very petite older woman with her bag to climb the stairs at a train station. No language needed. A person at a tourist stop offered me water during a coughing fit. It was the little things that mattered the most. But, also, the looks of surprise, happiness, and interest when I would go to small mom-and-pop restaurants of the locals. People giving me a thumbs up for enjoying the food served, and enjoying the ridiculous pantomime needed to communicate in those situations. The trip was thoroughly enjoyable and made much more so by the sincere, genuine, human interaction. And, for that, I am very grateful.

    I just finished reading Simon Baron-Cohen’s book “The Science of Evil” and the role of empathy or lack of it in borderline personality, psychopathy, narcissistic personality, and autism. Without that sense of empathy, we are far less likely to help others, and, if given the right bend, actively pursue abusing others kinda like your lead mugger did.

    Seeing the humanity in others was one of the biggest lessons being a case manager for people with AIDS taught me. Some of the diseases could be grossly disfiguring and disabling — carposi sarcoma, anyone? — but by focusing on the person at the core of the disfigurement, I was able to reach for and embrace — literally and figuratively — the person lying in the bed before me. If there are times, as Baron-Cohen contends when the environment and chemical impairment may diminish our ability to empathize, there are times when we can increase our capacity through focusing on cognitive and emotional empathy with others. Part of the cause of our increasingly empathy-lacking is that we are overburdened cognitively — too much cognitive load, too much to process — so that it is more difficult to recognize the needs of others and to respond to them if we do.

    Anywho, great series of articles. Politeness begins by recognizing how our behavior impacts those around us.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Jack, I am approving this right now because I want your touching comment available for others to read, but I shall have to return tomorrow to attempt to give it the response it deserves. I’m fighting a sinus infection right now and barely have a brain in the fog that has taken over my head — it is time for more medication, and then to put myself back to bed!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this comment.

      Liked by 2 people

      • CalicoJack says:

        Get better soon, Madelyn!


        • Thanks, Jack. Still a bit fuzzy, but on the mend after 12 hours sawing logs. Sleep is always the best medicine for me. I hope to be right as rain by the end of the weekend. I have not read Baron-Cohen’s book, but as soon as I can make it to the library I’ll see if they can get it in for me.

          I have long noticed the increasing burden of cognitive complexity – but feel almost like I’m watching rats rush headlong into the sea vs. locating the holes and patching the sinking ship. It seems that every day I read several announcements of this or that technology or software enabling particular groups to do more of what they do even faster – blogged and reblogged – increasing cognitive burden with every one, of course. That “time” we save is frittered away learning to work faster – ironic, yes?

          And yet, those like you who can travel have wonderful tales that warm the hearts of all who read. Even here in America, the smiles – the “sincere, genuine, human interaction” – resulting when I attempt to speak my broken High School Spanish to a shy child hiding behind his mother’s skirts as she attempts to make her way through the grocery story lives in sharp contrast to the tweets and words of that ignorant man that the Electoral College installed as our oh-so-dubious “leader” as he speaks about Hispanics and attempts to rouse the rabble to his hateful “side.”

          I admire your ability to work with the AIDS community more than I can tell you, Jack. I lost 7 close friends to that horror – and will NEVER be able to forgive Reagan for their deaths through his refusal to listen to Surgeon General Koop and dedicate funds to research immediately, which could have contained if not prevented its development into the status of an epidemic. My friends – and thousands of others – died as a DIRECT result of Reagan’s homophobia and ignorance. My last friend to be diagnosed is now in his 70s, an active and healthy contributor to society, since his dx came several years later, after ACT UP and research from other countries finally shamed American politicians into stepping up funding.

          I care-partnered one of the earliest “cases” in NYC – one of my very best friends – from dx to death. I was unable to spend as much time with him as I would have liked – I had to make a living and some of the hours of my particular job at that particular time were brutal, but I relate to what you say completely. He had a huge community of friends, so I was stunned when I spoke with those who could not donate even a single hour to a care cooperative initiative several of us attempted to put together at one point — and *why* they said no, with a tone of voice that seemed almost to imply that it was out of line for us to even ask. Their loss – but also my friend’s. He had to notice that he’d been abandoned by some he thought were friends.

          By the time he died – at home – my friend was spotted like a leopard, practically a skeleton, Hickman catheter delivering medication keeping him comfortable if not cognitively sharp at all times, and yet *HE* was still present – his soul, some might say, was whole and healthy.

          From the very beginning it was relatively clear that AIDS was sexually transmitted – and America’s trajectory could have been more like Africa’s had it been introduced into the heterosexual community first – especially with teens and 20-somethings. We saw an increase in research funding once the blood supply connection was made.

          But it will always be distressing to me that ONLY when “somebody like me” is at risk does empathy seem to kick in. As long as man is able to put up some sort of a dividing wall (metaphor intended), s/he is able to look away and pretend not to see, and sometimes even justify NOT caring.


          Liked by 1 person

  6. Bernadette says:

    “In our concern for other, we worry less about ourselves. When we worry less about ourselves, the experience of our own suffering is less intense.” Dalai Lama So, everyone wins when kindness is extended.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. bethbyrnes says:

    Madelyn, I don’t know what to say. I am literally stunned. I had no idea and must go back and read the first two parts. Then I may be able to comment intelligently. Right now, I am dealing with the shock. Hugs, hugs, hugs!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your empathy, Beth. As you may have guessed already, I am sharing hoping to encourage actions of empathy for others. Stories land in a manner that platitudes and memes never really do – and we can never even imagine what others are dealing with.

      I’d like to think that if those unwilling to help could have imagined how bad things were for me they would have been kinder – and I think that might be true for all of us, actually. Thanks for reading and ringing in.


  9. mistermuse says:

    I tried to comment earlier, but apparently it got lost in cyberspace, so pardon this condensed re-try.

    I commend not only your puck (for want of a better word), but your “nothing in comparison with what other people live with” attitude. You deserve a medal for your mettle (sorry, I couldn’t resist a pun). 🙂

    P.S. It was good that your brother came to your aid financially, but I couldn’t help wonder why so ‘late in the game’ — my guess is that, like many people (including me), you didn’t ask because you don’t like to bother others with YOUR problems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Possibly a version of similar — because I hate to “bother” I believe I don’t make it clear what I need – or that I need it NOW, *before* I’m about to fall over the edge.

      However, a cash infusion earlier in the game would have been useless in isolation. It was lack of access to funds (and places to spend them) more than the funds themselves that was the big problem — until I had to fund a sudden move with practically no time to do it rationally. VERY costly way to do things.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I was really relieved to read this last part of your story, Madelyn. I find it so hard to believe that life can be so difficult and isolated in America, the capital of the Western world. You are so fortunate to have had your brother and these other kind friends to help you. I always try to live my life as if those closest to me could no longer be with us tomorrow. We have the elderly members of our family over for tea every second Sunday and I have my sisters and their children over when ever they want to come. We are having the whole family (21 people) over for Easter lunch. Thank you for mentioning me in your article. I am most overwhelmed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, Robbie. I didn’t link directly because I wanted folks to read what Sally had to say and jump from there.

      And it IS sad that America is becoming more and more a “bell jar” society – rushing from here to there in car pods with horns ever-ready to honk at anyone who takes a moment of our “hurry up I’m late” lives, eyes on tiny screens instead of people or surroundings – and listening to the ravings of a mean-spirited so-called leader who thinks it’s a good idea to build a WALL and deport entire groups of people to isolate us further.

      WE ALL need to step up and just say NO (and let our Congress know exactly how much support they can expect at the polls if they don’t say no too — uh, NONE!)

      Fortunately, there are people like YOU in other parts of the world to lead the way. It sounds like you are “the family Perle Mesta.” I wish my family were still on earth and close enough geographically to get together monthly.

      I’ll bet Easter lunch will be a wonderful family party – and WOW what large gathering. Pot luck (bring a dish) I hope — or catered — and somebody to do the clean-up lol 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am doing the catering, Madelyn. I love it so I don’t mind at all. I will be sharing some of my treats and creations so you will have a chance to peek in. The world is just to fast, sometimes we need to step off for a bit and enjoy the important things. Have a lovely Sunday.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well that will be fun (sharing in, not the catering -lol – I think I’d lose my mind).

          I enjoy cooking and dinner parties, but I doubt I could put it together for such a crowd and remain sane. Certainly not in my current kitchen with it’s *extremely* limited counter space in any case.

          However, even when I left my former comment, I suspected that you would answer as you did. I would love to meet your family – I’ll bet they are a wonderful group of people to spend time with.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Madelyn, I have read all three parts and can’t imagine the stress and upset all of this caused. The mugging and injury was bad enough but to compound that with a landlady with the empathy levels of a dung beetle, added more insult to injury! Luckily, there are still a lot of people out there who will help and put themselves out for other people.

    So glad you found a few Guardian Angels to help you through it. Hopefully people will read your story and feel more likely to assist someone in need of help

    Liked by 1 person

  12. joanneeddy says:

    (Sometimes my WordPress account has a mind of its own. It doesn’t look like my first comment appeared…so writing a brief addition.) I just wanted to add that I am sending you positive thoughts and prayers for on-going healing. Life really is a strange and twisted journey at times…may you find added wisdom and new strength for yours. Jo

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a lovely comment, Jo: wisdom and strength. That is probably the only silver lining we get to many of life’s challenges, but I’ll take ’em both — gratefully! And how dear you are to take the time to comment a second time to make sure I got it.

      btw-comment problem may not be your WordPress account. I have been forced to set my site NOT to show comments until I approve, thanks to over a million link-spam attempts – so when I’m away from my computer you won’t see it. Yesterday was a long outside day – didn’t even get home until 3:30 AM, and I just woke up (rushing before I have to do it again today – rare for me, I’m usually here and working, so I approve pretty quickly).
      This theme doesn’t tell you “waiting for approval” or anything unfortunately.


      Liked by 2 people

  13. joanneeddy says:

    Wow, Madelyn, you really have been through so much! Given the work you do and this blog, I am sure you have translated this experience into good, into motivating others to help, and into providing empathy and understanding to those you touch. Jo

    Liked by 1 person

  14. noelleg44 says:

    A profound and heartbreaking post. You find out quickly who your friends are, which is why I try to pay it forward ahead of time. I have also learned to ASK. If you are a strong, independent woman, people will automatically think you can handle anything, when in fact, you can’t. I am so sorry you had to go through that!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. lorriedeck says:

    Good trust friends truly are life savers. You are so fortunate to have them in your life.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. barbtaub says:

    What you’ve gone through is heartbreaking. I’m lost in admiration of your attitude of focusing on the angels instead of all those demons!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m no saint – I have had my moments 🙂 – but I’m still *overwhelmed* with gratitude for the love and assistance that were shown to me – that is what I will forever carry forward and where I choose to focus. Life would simply be too scary to contemplate otherwise!

      I doubt I would be whole or marginally emotionally healthy – even if I hadn’t ended up homeless without help with the sudden move – without the kindness of each and every one of them.

      I have lived a life of extremes – hateful actions aimed my way in other situations, combined with amazing demonstrations of kindness, support and empathy – sometimes when and where I least expected it.

      Everybody is somebody’s angel – and we all get a chance to earn our wings. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Barb. This Friday I am posting another Funny for a bit of comic relief – tragic stories are not typical here. Mostly I focus on offering help to folks who are challenged by Executive Functioning struggles and can’t afford professional fees. I inject as much humor as possible as often as I can, but I count on posts like yours for real humor.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. lwbut says:

    Courageous hardly seems a big enough word to describe you, your story and your response to an horrific event Madelyn, But it’s the best i’ve got 😉

    While i concur with you that as bad as it was there is always someone with a far worse story – it is so good that you share yours with that level of humility and positive intent. With the desire to make what at times can seem a hopelessly evil world turn into one where no-one is left without hope or help – even from total strangers. I see that as what true Christianity is and should be, regardless of the religion or otherwise of those who share your belief that this is the right thing for all to do.

    It is certainly giving me cause to consider my own empathy and what actions i can take to help build that better world. We have never needed it more than we do today.

    Blessings Always.:-)


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Love.

      This is MY story, but it is not about me – it is about humanity. It was a terrible experience, but I truly believe that what is particularly shocking is that those of us who have been visible – from good homes, with good educations, white, relatively pretty, articulate, helpful – are usually thought of as having “sunshine lives.” We tend to be thought of as having hardly any struggles or challenges “worthy” of empathy.

      When the truth is that we ALL are in desperate need of it every single day, even for days that are not nearly as dramatic. And I’ll bet there is at least one person within walking distance of every single person who has ever read anything on this blog who is struggling and in need of help or companionship that would be so little to give, if we would look for opportunities to reach out.

      Unfortunately, there ARE and always will be people with far worse stories – people who didn’t recover (mentally or physically), people who live with chronic pain in a country that is more afraid of addicting them than the fact that they can barely get out of bed to go to the bathroom without suffering, people who live with chronic illnesses, people of all ages who are homeless, dirty and hungry, and people who are afraid they are about to be.

      Right now in America there are many who are terrified that they are about to lose their homes and belongings due to deportation if Agent Orange has his way – or beaten up – as he rouses the rabble with his soundbites and tweets about Mexicans and Muslims or some other “wrong” demographic. They would be so grateful for the gift of simple friendship to let them know that not EVERYONE in America is full of hate – that *most* of us care about humanity more than money.

      I realize, too, that there are a great many people who WILL recover and go on with their lives somehow without empathy – but not as fully as they would have with a little kindness and practical assistance like that shown to me.

      I think we unconsciously want to believe that if we do life “right” we’ll be saved from the worst of it’s ravages, and I think that too many people are hesitant to engage with anyone who might remind them that they might be wrong about that – especially when there is little they think they could offer that would make much of a difference. Nobody likes to feel impotent.

      But we are so WRONG there – truly, we ALL have the power to change someone else’s life. And it doesn’t take much, really.

      We can stop by with coffee or tea. We can bring a humble meal to share with someone who is lonely and take out the garbage on the way out the door. We can call when we are going shopping to see if we can pick up anything for them on the way home. We can chat with them over the phone and just listen – even that is a gift beyond measure to someone who is isolated. It is SO hard to ask for help, especially in answer to the ubiquitous “let me know if you need anything” — and so easy to simply step up and help.

      I REALLY don’t mean to preach, and I realize I have — but if something like the worst parts of my story can happen to ME it can happen to anyone – and it WILL happen to everyone if we all choose to remain in our little bell jars and don’t reach out to each other. We ALL need help and community.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. After all the suffering, it is simply fantastic that you have had friends who stepped in when you were in dire need! You are truly blessed!


  19. dgkaye says:

    You can’t even make that shyte up! I am happy to learn that kindness prevailed and from the kindness of strangers and far away friends you survived that turmoil, which of course I’m sure burns brightly in a corner of your brain. You are such a warrior woman my friend. ❤ xo

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Tina Frisco says:

    Geez, Madelyn, you have literally been through the wringer. I admire your willingness to share your story, as well as your capacity for gratitude and empathy. How people can turn their backs on those in need is something I’ve never understood. I understand the “why,” but the “how” is beyond my comprehension. I appreciate that you acknowledged all those who helped you throughout this ordeal. Gratitude is the first and last saving grace. Bless you for your courage and sharing. Hugs, my friend 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • They do it because, when their sense of empathy is underdeveloped it doesn’t bother them. They do it because they tell themselves that somebody else will do it — as if they are the only ones who have other things to do. They don’t take the time to think about how difficult it would be to walk in another’s shoes. They do it because they don’t understand that doing ANYTHING is better than doing nothing, and that even a little time from their own busy lives could contribute to a miracle in someone else’s. They do it because they lack gratitude.

      Gratitude is fostered by empathy – and without empathy, gratitude is little more than an internet meme.

      Thanks for reading, Tina – and taking the time to leave this comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Madelyn you are truly blessed to have friends like these. I guess because I live in a close knit rural community I have never been without support, but I know from having spent a few years in the city it can be quite different. Wishing you well and many blessings.xx

    Liked by 1 person

  22. It would seem that you were trapped in some vortex that was not going to let you go for some reason. I am so pleased that you did have people who showed you the kinder and more supportive side to human nature. It has clearly enhanced your own abilities to empathise with others and that is positive but I am sorry that you had to endure so many dark days. I have put this post along with the link to parts one and two in the Blogger. hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a doll you are to do that, Sally. Thank you.

      The extremes were particularly “worst of times/best of times” unusual – which is why I felt it laid upon my heart, as my Southern friends say, to share the lessons of the importance of kindness and empathy to our survival in this world.

      And, with what is going on politically, it has seldom been more important and we have never needed it more.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – 5th April 2017 – Robbie Cheadle, ALK3r, Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, Ned Hickson | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  24. -Eugenia says:

    You are a strong and amazing person, Madelyn. The fact that you can write about your experience is commendable. Sharing your story is a great help to others that have suffered similar experiences or god forbid if they encounter a horrific experience, such as yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. robjodiefilogomo says:

    I realize that I tend to be a Pollyanna, but I have to say that it’s stories like this that are so uplifting. We need to hear these more from the media and everyone, instead of the negativity that is so abundant!!
    Kindness is truly a gift and this story really illustrates how you take this terrible point in your life and make goodness shine!
    ps…I sent you an email with the 2nd post ready for your fabulous thoughts!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jodie, but NONE of us do it truly alone. “Pollyanna people” are made, not born, and the pathway to sunshine is there for each of us – all we have to do is step up and sing out in the lives of others. Funny how that works, huh?

      btw – MUST do errands *now* – so I’ll check the email when I’m back.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. mommermom says:

    Wow! I was very moved by this post. A true and sincere reminder we can all make a difference. Big hugs. 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  27. That’s a horrific story, Madelyn. Don’t discount or diminish it just because we know there are even worse things happening. Feeling helpless is just about the worst thing there is. Being robbed, especially assaulted is something most people don’t get over. Give yourself a pat on the back for how well you are doing on that account.

    I experienced similar several years ago. There was no mugging, but I fell on black ice and ended up having surgery for the injury — to my dominant hand as well. So I fully relate. The difference was that I didn’t find anyone willing to help. The experience was life changing in a bad way.

    That’s why I like your term “Empathy Deficiency Disorder” — it is epidemic here. It needs a miracle cure.
    Great big hug, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Teagan. I don’t discount what I went through – it was dreadful enough. But TRULY, there are so many people with worse situations.

      I’m sharing hoping to increase empathy for each other and in our world – especially in America, where Agent Orange is hell-bent on whipping up hatred, fear and anger.

      It breaks my heart to read that you had a miserable experience following your accident and that nobody stepped up to help. That you did underscores my point — you are usually so positive and upbeat in your comments that I’ll bet everyone believes you have an all-sunshine life. It’s too easy to assume that *anyone* is making it fine on their own, and too easy to look the other way.

      Bad things happen to ALL of us, and only when we reach out in community will we make it through whole, healthy, with kindness intact.


      Liked by 1 person

  28. You are a survivor! And to deal with moving house in a hurry as well? Tossed your cookies I suspect. I did some advocacy for someone yesterday. She has a disc bulge and not a good GP and not nearly sufficient pain medication. I made a few calls to get things started. The poor thing couldn’t even manage a shower. I really hope she managed to get to her appointment today as I couldn’t hold her hand. It is ridiculous we collectively don’t look after each other better. But the little things we all do hopefully make a difference. Keeping you in my thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I pretty much freaked. 🙂

      How dear you are to help someone in need and in pain. And that was certainly not a “little thing” you did for her.

      It always strikes me that those who struggle most help most, while SO many of those in more fortunate circumstances who could do a GREAT deal of good help very little.

      We all think our challenges are struggles, of course – but problems closing on your 2nd house – or even a teenaged son getting kicked out of school – is no where NEAR as challenging as what someone with inadequate medical care and in pain has to handle.

      I try my best not to wish anyone ill, but I often think a year or two of REAL struggle in a few lives might do some of them a world of good!


  29. John Fioravanti says:

    Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie presents the third and final part of her series that emphasises the significance of showing others empathy and not just sympathy. I find this instalment more disturbing than the last, and I fervently hope you will take the time to… read on, please!

    Liked by 1 person

    • MORE disturbing? You really couldn’t handle the rest of the details that I edited out for the sake of “brevity”. 🙂

      You must have been most disturbed by the total LACK of empathy from my former landlady – and she was truly hateful in more ways than this. The rest of the story is an unfolding of a miracle – thanks to the kindnesses extended to me from so many who could and DID empathize.

      I SO appreciate your help spreading the empathy message by reblogging all three parts of this story. Thank you SO very much.


      • John Fioravanti says:

        Perhaps I couldn’t , but I found it hard to believe that you got next to no help until that couple drove 10 hours to get you and take you home with them. That landlady… unbelievable. You’re welcome, Madelyn, I’m happy to help spread an important message like this!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Okay – I responded to this last “night,” but here it is backstage marked pending – so I’ll give it another try!
          It IS difficult to believe that I struggled to find help from people who were “too busy” to respond – even now I shake my head. And I can’t help but hope that when that landlady is over 60 she will get a chance to see how very difficult a sudden move can be and will experience some remorse over her actions toward me. Some people seem unable to empathise and don’t develop compassion until they experience similar struggles. She may well be one.

          But everything is SO overshadowed by the help I did receive – even from those exhausted strangers on that bus who helped me get my luggage off and back on at every pitsy stop.

          One woman was traveling by bus from Seattle, Washington (West Coast – cross country) — DAYS, and had still another day’s ride to her destination – with two amazingly well-behaved little girls. She apologized for not having a free hand, and offered to come back up to get me one she got her girls and their things to the holding area. A man, on his way to a funeral and barely able to hold back tears, insisted on helping ME.

          Mostly poor people travel by bus anymore – and they were ALL amazingly empathetic. Those who know struggle are quick to recognize it in another. We could ALL be that way if we only decided to keep our eyes open and offer help when we could.

          Again, thank you so much for your help spreading this message.


  30. The kindness of friends, and strangers. I was not faced with these kind of challenges, but I have seen that kindness so often in my own life. It always opens the eyes. Thanks for sharing your story, Madelyn. You are truly a survivor. Blessings to you going forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Wow Madelyn such a powerful piece. What a horrific time this was for you to go through. You are a winner and inspiration to all of us reading this. As the book of James notes… when trials come. Thank you for your bravery is sharing and your concluding statement was poignant… we all do need to step up and speak out in a peaceful way.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. In times of despair you certainly find out who your friends are. Some people ask if there’s anything they can do but then make excuses not to do it, but others are true to their word and pitch in to help out.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Ritu says:

    You are a strong woman Madelyn but you’re right… without the Kindness of others… where would you have been???

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Lucy Brazier says:

    What an incredible story! It really does go to show how the kindness of everyday folk is what really makes the world turn. From the big gestures, like the couple who drove 10hrs to come and get you, to the smaller gestures of helping with luggage – we none of us know when it might be us needing that little leg-up in life.

    This really has made me think, and I hope it has others too. Never pass up the opportunity to do a little good, show a little kindness – what goes around, comes around! Thank you, my dear friend, for sharing this with us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Wow Madelyn I had never ever heard this story of yours. But dear God is great and sends Himself in various ways to help us and there are so many people on this earth who are kind and have so much love and empathy in them. Loved each and every word of your beautiful post. Keep the faith and have a great day and things had to happen in your life take it as a blessing and move on to a world of cheerfulness and happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

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