TOL: Vicarious Pain

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Each sharp gasp of breath that you take in is what rattles through my throat. Each crinkle beside your eyes that forms when you squint in pain is another gash on the side of my heart.

Your pain magnifies in my mind, swallowing my brain until it’s rotting and churning through horrid cinematic images that I can’t even describe. It’s so painful I’m blinded; it squeezes out tears until they’re coming down in bucketfuls. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. My tears try to call out to you.

Sorrow. Regret. Shame. All these are dissolving in the depth of vicarious pain that bores a hole like acid through my stomach. It’s eating away at my heart, my internal organs–oh god, I see it dissolving me inside out; it’s taking my skin until I stand in front of you, fully exposed and honest, as a bare skeleton for an instant. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. My empty mouth tries to whisper this to you.

And now it’s burrowing into the marrow, it’s sucking the life right out of me. I’m crumbling. But even as I hope for relief in the pile of dust that I’ve become, I reform. And again. And again. I’m thrown through this process over and over again. I’m sorry. I try to say this to you each time but you can’t hear me. With each “I’m sorry” I try to take some of your load, but it’s too embedded for me to reach it. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. The constantly-shifting me tries to say this, but you smile softly and say that you’ll be fine. Lies.

I’d rather be the one in pain then experience it like this.