Here’s the thing: IT’S OK TO NOT RELATE.
Its OK to hear us say ‘I’m exhausted’ and not rush to say ‘I know how that feels! I’m tired too!’
It’s OK to hear us say ‘It hurts’ and not rush to say ‘I get it! I’m so sore from the gym yesterday.’
It’s OK to hear us say ‘I can’t eat that’ and not go ‘Oh I know, bread makes me so bloated.’
Because the truth is: you don’t get it. You don’t know what this experience is truly like.
And I don’t blame you for that. It’s OK that you don’t know how I feel. It’s OK that you can’t relate.
Even though I know you’re trying to show empathy… You’re pushing me away by conflating our experiences, which aren’t the same.
Here’s some other things you can say:
‘I’m sorry you’re so tired. Can I make us some food or order a pizza?’
‘I’m sorry you’re so sore. That must suck. Are there any meds I can grab for you?’
‘I’m sorry you can’t eat that, that must be frustrating. Let me know what you can have, for future reference.’
Chronic illness and disability are individual experiences a lot of the time. They’re not a competition, and they’re not necessarily common situations.
We don’t need you to relate. We just need you to care.