Not for isolation
He is a nice man, both gentle in some ways, rough in others.
A normal kind of man, with his share of burdens and anguish,
as well as joys and triumphs in his life.
I have known him for about twenty years,
Intelligent, insightful; which can lead to its own kind of suffering.
He has a dual diagnosis for mental illness,
a crushing burden for the one who has to carry it though life.
Some are defeated by just one; he carries two, and is doing well.
I won’t say he is fine, too haunted by his past for that;
episodes of acting out when in states of mania.
So many colorful, painful, memories and stories he has
from his now distant youth…..he cringes when talking about it.
Being in jail for awhile, then mental hospitals more than once,
struggles with meds, knowing how he can be irrational,
fighting his dependence on them, not taking them…..
Consequences horrible had to be paid more than once,
in full, in spades, drinking the chalice to the last drops.
Yet wisdom seems to only come with age, he takes his meds now.
As I listen to him, trying to understand, it can be very difficult.
He told me how once when talking to a young man, who like him,
was suffering from mental illness, it was almost too much for him.
He had to excuse himself, go out for a few minutes, and cry.
Well he wailed, racked with sobs over the suffering of this young man,
he being helpless, yet understanding in ways I would never be able to,
the path that had to be taken, the dark valleys that had to be traversed,
the loneliness, fear, isolation that can flow from being different,
that this young man would have to face.
Lonely, I think all he wants is for someone to listen, that is all,
perhaps it can be too much to ask, for he does not have many friends,
but the ones he has are good friends, who will just simply listen.
I think when I am with him, I put up some barriers, protecting myself,
not wanting to enter too deeply into his pain, so I am there for him;
also not there, which I am sure adds in some way adds to his suffering.
He is a brave man, he walks closer to the edge than I do,
no self pity, he tries, fails, gets up and tries again.
His danger of falling greater, yet his faith is deeper than his wounds.
His sufferings draws him closer to the Lord, his humility deep and enduring,
he is at a place that I can never enter into, all I can do is listen,
no matter how I have to struggle to understand and often fail.
Our gifts we give to one another are mixed with our inner poverty
yet try we must, that is all we can do in this pain racked world.
In that perhaps we give to each other some light, some joy and warmth,
allowing for the journey to continue, for we are made in such a way
that it is giving that we receive, and the talker and the one who listens,
both receive a gift from each other, often in ways unknown.
We are made to love and give, to listen and support, not for isolation.