empty space

I’ve learned that people who isolate invariably have an addiction or a trauma. Quite often, it’s one they bury; like the ghosts of a cemetery, they emerge and travel capriciously in that person’s mind. Loop after endless loop. No one else bears witness. And because angst or depth wildly varies between different people, no one really understands the profundity of what afflicts them. Some people relentlessly look ahead, leaving behind the most heinous offenses. Others get trapped in the vortex over things we judge as minor. Though the loop may be nascent and small in circumference, each cycle takes the person closer and closer to calamity. We all see it coming and are mostly powerless to stall its progress.

Cognition seldom helps. You’re not rationalizing with the individual. You’re attempting to overpower something that is both tenuous and tentacled inside someone’s kidnapped mind.

You can try to get close out of love or concern. They often rebuff you. Isolation becomes its own self-fulfilling reward. The phantom loop constantly whispers to the person trapped in a behavior; its voice is not only proximal but deafening.

Don’t fault yourself if you’ve tried to pierce that bubble and can’t. It does not mean you shouldn’t try, even if it’s futile. Because the uncaring alternative is much worse. Even if the story ends badly. Most of us will return to that wall and vainly attempt to chisel away at it, even though we fluctuate between helplessness, anger, or realization.

This is the thesis of my Bystander’s Prayer.

And despite our varying cynicism, our hope for a dramatic change sometimes happens. The alchemy of why or how is beyond calculation. If this were never the case, our behavior would automatically adjust to just accept the unacceptable before we even tried. When it does come, the change, it brings joy. Everyone loves an underdog or someone who has overcome.

If it does end badly, we promise to try something different the next time. Likely, we won’t. There will always be a next time, as this world is full of trauma and unseen damage. Most of us believe that love or some fruitful variation will be enough to convince someone that it’s time to pull up into the high clouds instead of plummeting.

When one person plummets, we all do because that person carries a piece of us with them, even if they are blind to it. It’s how friends, family, and tribe work.

If you can, keep your hammer in hand, your chisel sharp, and your optimism high. If life gets you down, you might be in the hotseat. You’ll need us to pull up, just as we need you when we’re in the loop. The horseshoe finds its way onto every hoof, no matter who you are.

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