Do you ever feel that someone else’s place or circumstances should have been yours? That you really wish you could swap, or take for them what they are going through? I am not talking about good things, more about difficult things. So many times, when someone I care about is suffering, I’ve wished that I could take for them what they are going through. I guess that much is natural, when we care for someone, particularly with parents and children – I’m not a parent but I imagine loving parents would probably willingly take suffering themselves to spare their children’s suffering. Weirdly, I get these feelings with people I don’t really know. I can get really strong feelings that I should have been in their place, that it should have been me, not them.
When I was in the hospital for my operation last week, there were several of us on the ward having similar procedures. Lovely NHS blue curtains round the beds are fine for privacy in visual terms but do nothing to stop you overhearing what is going on, much as you really try not to! So, I ended up gathering that the lady in the next bed, about the same age as me, was having the same operation as me for suspected endometriosis. We both went into theatre and both came out and the doctors came round to see us to tell us the outcome. I’d gone in expecting to be told I had extensive endometriosis and that it had grown across my bladder and potentially other organs. I’m single and I do not want to have my own children. The lady next door to me had a (from what I saw) caring, loving husband or partner and I gathered that they were at the stage to consider starting a family. She didn’t know what to expect in the op. We both came out. I got told that there was no endometriosis. She got told that she has severe endometriosis, it has grown through her other organs, it was so severe they could not remove it in that operation and will need to do another more complicated operation, and if she wants any chance of having children it’s very unlikely and she would have to go through freezing eggs and having IVF. She was so astoundingly brave, talking to the doctors and talking to her husband / partner, I was stunned, but she has this shock and loss to face of likely not being able to have children.
Now – apart from acknowledging the fact that I have distinctly too big ears and need to stop being such a nosy moo (bring ear plugs next time!?) – I instantly felt that my place and hers should have been swapped. I should have been the one to have the endometriosis. I’m single. I don’t plan to have children, for so many reasons. I knew that already. I expected endometriosis. I’d not really have lost anything if I had it. She has a partner and they love each other and probably wanted a family and she’d have been a lovely lovely mum.
I didn’t know her and I’m sure I’ll never cross paths with her again but I cried and prayed to God, that should have been me. It should have been me, not her. It hurt.
Frequently, I get this strong feeling that it should have been me. It happens with friends, where I really wish I could, and feel I should, be able to take on pain that they are going through and go through it in their place. It also happens with people I barely know. Possibly it’s connected to times I dissociate, or my feelings that I “shouldn’t have been me”, shouldn’t have been who I am, I’m not real, everyone knows my thoughts and intentions are something other than what I think they are (something bad) – but this is different. Feeling I should have been in the other person’s place when they are suffering… that I wish I could take it on for them… that I want to take it away from them (but it’s more than that)….
Is that a typical Borderline Personality Disorder feeling? Or typical of Personality Disorders in general? Do you ever experience these feelings?
I’m sorry this is a badly written post.
4 thoughts on “That should have been me”
I’m not sure whether it’s a BPD or PD thing, but I also get moments like this. Quite often actually.
Thank you for taking the trouble to comment. That’s very interesting that you get similar feelings. Can I ask have you always had them? Like since childhood? No need to answer if you don’t want.
Well, I was always a very sensitive kid, and always trying to please and make others happy. But as far as I can remember, I only really started thinking “it should have been me” by my early teenage years. Sorry, my memories are very scattered and there are lots of blank parts, so I can’t give you an exact answer.
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I’m sorry for being slow to reply. Thank you for that. I think I had a similar personality as a child. I’m wondering how much the “should have been me” feeling is part of empathy and how much (in my case at least) it’s part of not having a firm sense of who I really am and fear of my effects on others. It sounds as if you’re caring and empathic by nature so perhaps it’s part of that xx