She listened as they spoke and told her of their journey. A journey entwined with struggle and strain and oh so much soul crushing. Yet, here they sat in front of her still living and breathing and living to see another day.
She could see the inner strength of this friend creeping through each and every chapter of her tumultuous relationship and she was so thankful this friend had courageously drawn the line and said, enough is enough.
They finished their coffees, she settled the bill at the cafe and then they both headed their separate ways for the afternoon.
Everything that had been said wouldn't leave her. As she walked the aisle's of Woolies her heart beat faster and her chest became tighter. A heavy mood settled over her.
How did her friend endure so much? How was it fair that she had to go through any of that? And the children? What heart-ache they must be going through.
She thought of her own children and imagined how they might feel if they had to go through a similar experience. Her throat ached as she tried to clench on tightly to the tears trying to spill down her cheeks.
None of this seemed fair.
In the days that followed her friend continued to share more of what the last few years had been like and she continued to feel her heart splinter and break.
Her friend had experienced manipulation and abuse over an extended period of time but she was hearing all of it within the space of a few days and the assault on her emotions was enormous.
They were her emotions in response to her friend's experiences. It seemed silly to acknowledge these feelings because she wasn't even the one who had gone through it all.
Yet, every day she felt these feelings crashing over her like a tidal wave and breathing was becoming harder and harder.
Have you ever felt like her? Have you ever had such a strong emotional response to someone else's experience? Have you ever struggled with those feelings lingering for days or weeks on end?
Empathising and having compassion towards people is a beautiful characteristic. It can also mean you might end up feeling what someone else might be feeling.
If we don't keep our own heart in check, all of these emotions can cause our heart to experience compassion fatigue.
What ways do you keep your heart from compassion fatigue?
If you are experiencing any type of domestic violence, please seek help.