The Price of Our Empathy

I was twenty-five
when my vision of the world
changed.
It wasn't the first time, but
it was the most crucial shift of my life.

I shed my naivete
and spread my wings.

The clouds parted
in revelation.
Not of the crystal pure
sparkling sky
I imagined,

but of beauty overrun by
murky squalls of dusk fumes.
It was an esoteric darkness
that I could warn others about.

Still, I haven't decided
if this new vision
is a gift
or a life sentence.

Is ignorance bliss?
Is cynicism a curse?
Or is it
my armor?

I want to write about the shadows I see,
But sometimes I can't.

I could have all the facts laid out,
my positions stiff as soldiers,
but I go to the keyboard
and freeze.

My eyes glaze over
and my head is empty
except for one echoing enquiry:

What could my words possibly contribute?
I press publish,
and it will still be 1 in 4 women tomorrow.

Why do women put it on our own shoulders?
Because we've experienced it.
We know it.
We don't wish it on anyone.

We feel for the world
in ways that men can't-
or they refuse to.
Several overlapping systems
motivate their mouths
shut.

Mine, too, was closed-
covered by the clasp of cosmic
patriarchal control-
until I found my misplaced rage
and placed it.

When it works,
I can channel it into advocacy.
But it doesn't work all the time.
Sometimes
it's too much
because the stories I read
are like my story.

The women
are me.
Of course,
they're not actually.
Usually, we're very different
but their words
reveal a picture
clear as a mirror.

Suddenly,
writing,
advocacy, and
empathy require
emotional confrontation
that is tricky to ignore
because
my best art

is always created in the dark.

Thank you for reading! What did you think? Leave a comment below. To support my work, consider buying me a cup of coffee!

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