People have different mechanisms for dealing with the aspects of the field that don't necessarily "suit" them.
As a nurse, you will assess, and ideally, that starts with yourself. With that in mind:
long and unenviable criminal record-but with no barring offenses, only a plethora of misdemeanors/DUIs/drug possession charges (no convictions).
Your difficulty with empathetic expression to some degree comes from a long history of self-gratification and self-justification. I believe you and I would define "pity" the same way- there is no personal attachment, it is a me/them paradigm. The epiphany comes when you realize that their "poop" may be more on the outside, yours
is on the inside. "There, but for the grace of God, go I..."
The empathy is easier if you view the elderly dementia patient, with his dirty diaper, as yourself, passed out with the pool of vomit from too much Crown/beer/whatever and reaching for the bag of weed to steady your nerves in the morning. Yours was a choice, their situation may or may not be, but in either event they are weakened, diminished, and needing help, as in some way you once were.
I may be speaking hyperbole, you may never have been, "that bad off". Grace is easier, in some ways, if you were. You strike me as being insightful enough to follow my point, but ultimately (and it sounds like this is where you are) it is not enough to intellectually
appreciate the connection. When we fully appreciate how much we have destroyed in life, we begin to feel a need to build, and that's a "heart" issue, not one of the mind.
"I have been
proud, arrogant, self-serving, a thief, a liar, a seducer, a cheat..."
, "I am
a servant..." Or it sounds something like that, if you're entering nursing with the evolution you seem to be describing.
You're on the right track.