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Of Sinew & Substance


Sunday, June 25th, 2023


I feel as if people treat me like a canary in a coal mine—they use me as nothing more than a tool to save themselves from pain. The things I have to do to try and get a modicum of human decency is boundless and asinine at the same time.

The revelation of just how much I’m either taken advantage of or brushed aside as if I were invisible is … eroding. It chips away at me like a pickaxe to an ore vein or the way a sidewalk wanes, bridled by time and the weeds.

It’s like they tell me, “I want you to fly,” but I’m stuck inside the cage they’ve put me in. Or, worse, “I want you to fly,” but I don’t have any wings.

I’m terrified my heart will grow cold because of this. I’m afraid I can already feel it, actually. I can only imagine it like a slow-creeping frost that crawls over a cabin’s windows every night because there's no hearth inside to warm it.

As horrified as I am to say, I can feel the resentment building inside my chest for you all. I don’t know how I’ve gotten to this point, and I don’t know how to stop the spread of this … this poison inside of me.

I’m in the dark, you see, and even if there was any light, I’m invisible regardless. Somewhere along the way I must’ve lost myself—maybe just pieces of myself over time, I don’t know, but I’m not quite certain it’s worth trying to pick up those pieces in the dark.

Hm. I must’ve lost myself.

I say this over and over again because it doesn’t seem to stick to me. It’s like hearing the same word a thousand times over, eventually its meaning becomes misplaced.

Even though I’m a man with the same sinew as everyone else and with some amount of substance like them, I’m still that canary in a coal mine—being used, waiting to die, and inhaling the fumes for everyone else but me.

I empathize with that canary. I, too, know what it feels like to be alone; something of which so few seem to understand. If I could, I would let you out of your cage, but I’m so sorry. I’m stuck inside a cage of my own.

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