He was cold.


Cold and angry.  His shivering intensified his anger.  His anger created an inner frozen coil.   It started in his chest and curved its way through out his body.  It was solid.  Frozen solid.

He stomped his feet.

With each stomp he thought of a name.  A face.  A perceived slight.

Why is he out here and alone.   When everyone else has everything and each other.  He shoved his hands further in his pockets.  And walked.  He was too angry to look others in the eye as he passed.  He was too disgusted with the world to allow anyone to care.  His head was low.  The knit hat pulled down to his eyebrows.  Though his pants were lined with flannel, his coat was heavy, and his feet were clad in warm hiking boots, he was chilled.

He couldn’t recognize the chill was from within.

He blamed the frigid air and the frigid world.

Never once considering the ice of his existence.

With each step came the familiar, and oft thought, reflections-

They don’t understand

They need to walk in my shoes

What do they want from me

They’ve had it so easy, they don’t know or have a clue what I’ve been through.

Why can’t they do something for me?

In his pack he carried food, a book.   He had things scattered everywhere.  In friend’s homes.  In strangers homes.  The only money he had, he carried in his pants pocket.  He gave it to no one, using it only for his needs.  Whatever they were at any given moment.  It was only for him.

He looked up briefly to see the familiar little restaurant.  He didn’t need to look up.  He knew how close he was from the familiarity of the previous long walks, all with his head down.  He thought about going in, sitting down, having a hot coffee.

But he didn’t want to be around anyone.

No one.

Because no one, not one single person, had any idea what it was like to be him.

And he made sure it stayed that way.

Let no one in.

And don’t let go.

It’s easier to be angry and alone.

Then it is to be vulnerable.

To hurt.

And to accept that he has control, and chooses not to use it.

He shuddered at the powerlessness he carried.


We are warm.


Warm and sad.

Each of these adding up to a feeling, not of guilt, but something uncomfortable.

Why is he out there and alone.  Why did he take the easy way out and avoid getting better.   Why does he avoid sitting and talking with us when we come around, when we try to engage him, what did we do?  We know we didn’t do anything.   But….we exist here.  And he doesn’t.  Sometimes there is no comfort in where we are and what we have, when we know where he is and what he’s doing.

Old familiar thoughts plagued us.  Every day, one of us, or all of us, wonder.

He doesn’t understand

He needs to walk in my shoes

What does he want from me

He’s taken the easy way out, and not dealt with anything, he doesn’t know what I’ve been through.

Why won’t he do something for himself?

In our homes, we have.  Everything we have is here.  All we want to do centers out of here.  We give to one another, we give to others, we don’t mind sharing.  We have what we need but the one thing we cannot work for or make happen.  Sometimes the pain of caring was too much to bear.

We think again, about what we can do.

It would be easier to not care and not think about.

Than to contemplate the fear and unknown we face every day.

It would be easier to not remember,

And to understand,

We have no control, and can no longer pretend we do, or that we never did.

We cringe at the horribleness of powerlessness.

20 thoughts on “Powerless

  1. In this time when we reflect on the heart of God, the plight of the homeless, the mentally ill, those suffering worldwide, shine a light that blinds. It’s hard to confront but what change comes from not confronting, talking about it, bringing attention and drawing more light to where the light is needed most. A very thoughtful, poignant post, my friend. You’ve a good, decent, compassionate heart that never fails to amaze me. Grateful to know you. Happy Holidays and peace to all. Love, Paulette ❤


  2. Pulls at my mind the same as a double strung banjo – the twang without the give and take. A completely true story of the paranoid who refuses to become a part of society and therefore we can’t help no matter how much we might want. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve seen these individuals tossed into a quiet room to work out their own terrors and the family will walk away saying words such as, ‘thank goodness, we don’t have to deal with him/her any longer, for now anyway,’. Unfortunately, both parties make it to hard to cope with the issues and the endless cycles keep on turning.
    This is a powerful post and should be required reading at all family and patient counseling meeings. There’s so much meat to learn from this post. So much truth.


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