Being A Bystander

I See And I Do Not (Written September 24, 2015)

How strange it is for me to be
On the outside, looking in,
Seeing the pain, and the tears, and the fear,
And unable to help, not sure how to begin.

How odd it is to be so close,
And yet so far away.
They tell me the tales of their troubles and woes
And I listen, but don’t know what to say.

How can I care so very much,
But not empathize at all?
Why can I hurt when I can’t help them,
But can’t conceive of even pain small?

I can’t believe how bad it hurts
To not know how pain feels.
I don’t know how I can feel it is false
When I see it’s so terribly real.


I have mentioned before that I am just not an emotional person. Over the past year I came to realize that that was at least in part just because I had never lost something that I really loved. But, really, even while I feel like my heart is being broken apart the farther it is from home, I still don’t understand how other people feel at all.

I set up to work on papers and such in the same room, at the same table, every time I have homework, and it is exactly the same place I did last year. People come in and end up telling me all sorts of things. So many people are so hurt. I know so much about these people, and about their pains, and I don’t understand them at all. I hope listening earnestly is a help to them, because I don’t think I am capable of understanding them in the least. How can I not understand them? How can I know so much about a situation and still not understand? It is so painful, not knowing their pain.

But then, I really don’t want to know their pain. Not because I am afraid of being hurt- I don’t. Not because I don’t care about them- I do. I don’t want to understand their pain because I know that I could never think like I do if I did. I know I am callous and cold, but I also know that that lets me be very logical. And I know that that is something that everybody sorely needs, at times. So I don’t want to understand their pain, because I am afraid that if I did I could not be the voice of reason that they will eventually need.

But it still hurts, to see pain and be unable to comfort.