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On Suffering

I, like many, have a lot on my mind these days. Sometimes I brainstorm my questions of the world, get them all out of my head and onto paper, then pick one and write. It's one of the ways I process and reflect on events, emotions, my own personal state of being.

For #mentalhealthawarenessweek, I chose a prompt about suffering:

How do we handle suffering when we see it?

Here's what I wrote. I'd love to read what that prompt brings up for you.

On Suffering

I see suffering every day

Just by looking in the mirror

The lines around my mouth have deepened

The creases on my forehead too

But mostly it’s the haunted look in my eyes

The look of someone who has been through so much

Who has held precious things and felt them break

Who has been rejected or tossed aside

Who has weathered hurricanes of emotion.

And still, I stand.

I see my face reflected in all its lined and shadowed glory.

I have lived. I have loved. I have lost.

My own suffering aside

I see it sometimes at the store, on the street, in a park

And then - ooooof

That pang in my stomach

Is it Pity? Empathy?

Seeing someone who is struggling

Or might be lonely

Or in some kind of trouble

Or just that their life is not the one they want to be living

That pang sits in my belly for hours afterwards

Slowly dissipating

Leaving me tired and relieved when it’s gone

I’ve been working on that membrane -

The one between me and the world -

Working on having it be less permeable

A little more like protection

One that lets a little feeling in

Even a medium amount

But not all of it….

As an empath, all of it is too much.

I can only do all of it if I am writing, acting, creating


It in a different form

Otherwise it sits

It festers

Like undigested meat

Heavy with nowhere to go

Even unbridled joy is hard!!!

It pushes at the edges of my being

Tears escape and the belly aches

From laughter and dancing

I need to laugh and dance more

I am tired of feeling sad

Feeling heavy

I want blue skies

And pistachio ice cream

A crisp apple and boogie music

Soft velvet blankets and lilac branches in my bedroom

I want to celebrate kindness, bravery, art

To love with abandon and hope that tomorrow will be better -

Even if it’s just a smidge -

Better than today.

My father used to say to my mother:

I love you more than yesterday but less than tomorrow.

Here’s to that!

To loving more than yesterday but less than tomorrow

To rejoicing more than yesterday but less than tomorrow

To living more than yesterday but less than tomorrow!!!

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