Reflections from the Fire

To say that you have gained something from my suffering, to claim some benefit has come to you at my expense—that your perspective has changed or that you have a renewed appreciation for your lot in life—is to cheapen my suffering. It is to commodify it for your consumption at my cost. To glean gain without paying the cost of entering into my suffering, of sharing it as your own, is cheap and entirely selfish. My grief is not yours and it is not for your benefit. Yet should you be willing to enter it with me, to cry and be crushed, then the sweet wine that is pressed out is for us to share together. If you should be willing to weep and wail in the fire as if this grief is your own, then what comes out of the furnace refined is a gift for us together. But do not cheapen my grief.

Nor do I care to receive your pity as recompense. Pity is a removed response, arising from a sense of relief that my suffering did not fall upon you. Pity is payment towards your self-righteousness merit badge that sees my suffering as a scarlet letter of shame. I care nothing for your pity. But if your are willing to share my suffering as your own, to draw near to me in my despair, to sink low into sorrow, then you have offered me what I long for most. Then you have paid what cannot be repaid or redeemed simply for your good, and we will be richer together for it. But do not give me your pity.

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