The Pain of a Bystander

witnessing wreckage

I think our greatest joy is our freedom. The freedom to be. Without coercion. We get to decide what we do with our existence.

The very freedom that makes relationships possible, allows us to hurt each other. The pain I am referring to right now is not a direct attack of one person against the other. It is when one person chooses to harm themselves by not choosing the good. When you have real relationships in your life, the type of realness that draws you out of yourself, and you care about the well being of that person. You care whether they are using their freedom to choose meaning and love, or to throw away their freedom with empty fixes. Whether this is a close family member or a beloved childhood friend, this stuff hurts. You only want what is best for the other, yet, they must choose it for themselves. That’s beautiful pain. But still pain. And it sucks to stand by and watch, wondering if they’ll ever come around. Wondering if we’ll ever know our true worth. Sometimes we are the ones making the wrong choices, and in a certain way that pains us. Though, sometimes we are watching others make wrong choices and it pains us in another way. We are left to watch. This is the pain I am talking about. When a loved person in your life is going down the wrong path, choosing evil over good, and you are left there witnessing the wreckage.

I wanted to write this little excerpt to share a poem that I wrote. I think this is a tragic part of the human drama that we all participate in. Here it is:


Witnessing Wreckage

it’s a fight,

against my instinct,

to only watch.

nothing to hear,

a visible cry.


closed eyes,

it exists,

inside of him:

toil, denial, fine.


mirage of a horizon,

replaced with nothing;

red fists, but empty.

it’s all gone now-

only crumbling grains.

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