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We are so careless with one another.

We inflict words without remorse, unthinking of the lasting impact that will have.

I’ve heard religious people who believe in an afterlife say in reference to how we treat one another that we walk amongst gods. I’m not so sure if that’s true, but it certainly is poetic. Poignant. It’s a valid approach to the compassion we need to treat one another with.

Lately, I realize how many bridges I’ve burned. I’ve hurt people without meaning to. I’ve hung relationships out to dry because I wasn’t willing to see someone else as worthy of consideration. So focused on how I felt I was being treated and how I felt it effected me, the pain someone else was going through that was interwoven into the situation couldn’t stop my relentless drive… to move on to something easier, something better, something that served me.

Usually, the arson-style ending of these relationships was actually very quiet. Maybe burning bridges is the wrong metaphor. It’s more like death by carbon monoxide. It’s odorless, colorless, scentless. It’s like it was never even there.

How dark. Years of relationship, blotted out with an eraser in moments.

The worst part is it all isn’t the outright animosity we assume leaves the worst scars – it’s apathy. It’s the indifference of someone who doesn’t care, doesn’t think to care, or selfishly holds back from caring out of their own fear of being hurt again by the same thing.

I think about the ways I have been hurt by selfish acts born out of indifference. The actions of someone else who never stopped to consider the lasting repercussions of this person they were treating as less than themselves, somehow less human, are burned on me, and there are places I discover I am still raw and peeling. Even as I move on, slowly taking steps towards healing those hurts and making sure they are cared for in the proper way so they don’t reopen again, my heart is heavy.

My pain doesn’t only effect me. It’s a burden carried by anyone who knows and understands me and what I’ve been through. It’s a shared helplessness, and it’s heavy. And how badly I hate it.

I hate the helplessness I feel when I’m triggered and I hate that I cry and I hate that it ever happened and I hate myself because things like that don’t happen to women like me who are strong and stand up for themselves. The shame and suffering I feel are the direct result of the carelessness of another. This is now mine to carry, and hate is heavy. Someday, I hope I can let it go.

But as much as my own experiences frustrate me, that is something I can work through. I can choose to forgive (eventually). I can choose to be more compassionate in how I treat others. There are steps I can take to manage how my own indifference shows up and effects those around me.

As much as I do to manage my pain, it’s an entirely different scenario when you see the pain caused by someone else’s inconsiderate actions in the eyes of someone you love.

You see their hurt, and it fills you with grief and rage and resentment – because why in the hell should this person who you care for have had to go though that? What did they do to deserve that kind of treatment? What could have possibly justified the actions in the mind of the person who did this to them?

And often, it’s complicated. Maybe there are variables you don’t know. Maybe they were complicit in parts of it. Regardless, someone you care about has been hurt by someone else’s lack of care. And now, you carry their burden, too.

But when we share these burdens, they seem to become much lighter. It’s a 1 + 1 = 3 scenario. Maybe this sharing, this seeing, this caring can begin to heal those hurts.

In the meantime, I consider words, my words, words already said, the words of people much smarter than me, and my intense longing to create words of hope. Words that raise up. Words that create a haven long enough for someone to find respite.