Have you ever felt the helplessness in not being able to help a person no matter how much you want to?
I’m like a hotline number. I attract people who have deep dark secrets/issues. From friends to strangers, I have people approach me to tell me their problems. Maybe its because I’m generally silent and introverted that I seem trustworthy to strangers. I had mere acquaintances approach me, cry out and tell me something they never told anybody before. At first, I always thought of this as strange, like a big practical joke the universe was playing on me. Later on though I realize how much of a gift this was–to be trusted with people’s shame, pain, wounds and desperation. In some occasions I am blessed with the right words or actions to help, but in other occasions I am helpless. Helplessness can be frustrating, but also humbling.
I have come to terms with the idea of ‘not fixing.’ Sometimes, even when the person who is in front of you is someone you care for deeply, when there is nothing one can do, all that can be done is to continue to sit with them. Recent events in my life brought these thoughts forward again. In the thick of it, I wrote a poem. I know this isn’t my usual post, but indulge me please.
I Will Sit with You
Poem by Iphios
I will sit with you
When you speak your truth.
I feel the weight of it—
Not of the pain that echoes
Through as your mouth, tongue
Teeth and lips work to make sound,
But of the trust you lay so openly
In the space between us.
If I knew how to scrape off
The saliva that walls your mouth
With memories and synonyms
Of the chaos that plagues
Every inch of your body and being,
I’ll grasp your chin and run
my spoon through until you
Ease into a stillness or some kind
But all I know is to sit with you,
Through it as the finger of darkness
Grasps, hold and take you
Into its arms until you writhe in it
And even your mouth knows not
The sound of help and your mind
Numb to hope and her sisters.
Still, in that desperation
I will sit with you. I will tell you
Stories of the dark, of the monsters
That linger in every inch of it,
Of the resounding emptiness that course
Through the heart until my mouth
Runs dry, until every sob in your soul
Quells and your throat burns from wailing
Then I will still be there
with you in that darkness
until you hear it– the sound
of me breathing next to you,
waiting until you find
your own breath moistening
Your mouth, sound to your
Throat and the way
through your darkness.
Then we will sit together,
And talk of your monsters,
Of your emptiness until our conversation
Runs dry and only silence prevails
Then the weight of it lingers
No more, and sits comfortably
Between swallowed saliva
and trust, strewn on our laps.