“When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,” – Shakespeare, Sonnet 29
“No, you do NOT understand.” she snaps at his attempt at comfort. She is right, he has not walked a mile in her heels, but at a loss for words he had tried to soothe her anguish with the words “I understand.” For he did know something about pain and loneliness. He had experienced his version of it. Her exact feelings and circumstances? No, those he did not truly understand.
I once had a job that did not allow its employees to say “I understand.” Why? To avoid the situation above, to avoid a stressed customers snapped reply of “No you do NOT understand.” We were allowed to say “That situation can be frustrating.” “That is upsetting.” and other empathy statements, but we were to never “understand”. When a friend comes to us with a problem we empathize, we recall a similar situation, and we can feel similar hurts, but we do not truly understand. Every situation, every set of feelings, is going to be unique to the person who feels them.
That is why when we hurt, when we are upset, when we are depressed, when we are struggling, it is also easy to feel so terribly alone.