Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mind Storm

some days come heavy
thick with storm
wrapping around me
a straight jacket
a vice grip
crushing weight
life sits
on my chest

breathless being
i crawl through moments
among the living
cracked edge of a smile
over my coffee

a master of disguise
i cloak my complete unhinging
in a friendly hello
hope you are well
oh let's do
give me a call

i am a wounded animal
itching to retreat
clamoring to
claw my way out or
tunnel into the deep hole
of my heart
dissolved into dark

 i wait trembling
choked and heaving
riding out the storm
of who i am
until by grace
the world leaves me to
the sweet night

i retire
curling in
my body a question mark
asking into the days end

what will become of me?

i recall a prayer

do not fight the dark
just turn on the light

i know one thing about light
it returns

This poem is an attempt to articulate what a day of high anxiety and depression feels like for me.

I have written and shared before about my decades of struggle as a person living with mental illness.
I have done so much work and have made great strides, but I will never be "cured", at least not given where we stand now in the treatment of mental disorders. I survive, and I do thrive. I have periods of ease and cycles of suffering. My anxiety and depression can flare up on any given day and stay for an indeterminate amount of time. I have learned how to cope, how to function, and how to care for myself. Unfortunately, I have also found it necessary to learn how to mask and hide so I can be in and participate in "normal" society.

I know there are many people like me. I can almost guarantee you know at least one person who suffers from some form of mental health issue or brain difference, and you very well might have no idea. Many of us smile through our agonizing mind storms, because we know we won't be understood, and judgment on top of the already heavy burden we carry is just too much to risk. It hurts too much.

I count myself a million times blessed, because I have had key helpers show up for me at the right times. I have been fortunate to find a spiritual practice and community that embraces me exactly as I am. I have had good therapists, coaches, teachers, friends and family. I have also had the courage to say yes to these helpers. Saying yes to the help is scary in a way, because what if it doesn't work? Then what? I said yes, and it has helped. I still have bad days like the one described in the poem, but I have resources and tools to help me get through. Things can get really dark and hopeless when the storm is moving through, but I know now that I can ride out the storm, and I have people who will hold my hand and wait with me. It didn't always feel that way. There were years when the darkness seemed endless and all consuming. A ray of light was, at times, a fiction to me.

There are people around us who feel that way right now. What we can do for each other is simple, be there. Show the people around us that we do care, and we aren't going anywhere. We can be good friends and neighbors. We can live from our hearts and be that ray of light for those around us. We can pay attention and learn how to really listen. If we learn to really listen to people, we are more likely to notice when they might be feeling down or not quite themselves, and then we can offer to help. If we don't feel equipped to help , we can offer to assist in getting our friends to the help they need.

You don't need to understand what mental health issues feel like exactly. Unless you are suffering yourself, it can't totally be known, but you can have open ears, an open mind, an open heart, and often, what we need most is a pair of open arms.

If you are reading this and you feel in the dark and all alone, you are not alone. Reach out, and keep reaching until you find a hand, there will be one.

I know one thing about light, it returns.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

temple goddess


      i think of how many years
      you have been here
      holding this prayer
      of the hands that crafted you
      so long ago
      what did those hands
      long for
      what devotions and pleadings
      infuse your form
      and here you have stayed
      ever present and watchful
      a mother's station
      you do not waver
      souls yearning
      rivers of prayers
      given to your kind face and countenance
      the imprint of accumulated askings
      in the weathered strength
      of one who shines divine
      birthed by human hands
      the infinite mother is called
      to manifest form
      that you might give us
      once again
      to ourselves

Friday, March 20, 2015

Tribe of the Broken Heart

there is room for you here
after roaming and reaching
come blood, bone and spirit
fall into our arms

tell us what aches
what is broken and shattered
and we will receive it
as alms for our hearts

there is room for you here
to dance in the fire
bathe deep in the river
these baptismal rights

 all is yours for the taking
dive into the darkness
sink still to the bottom
rise up to the light

there is room for you here
we take you now fully
you are a piece, a part of us
we long to embrace

we are one sacred body
born of the universe
broken hearts living
into undying grace

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

slow unfolding

make of this life
something slow
a spring flower
the land sculpted by water
 revealing itself
 part by part
the story of
 its beauty
almost suspended
 as breath
beholding it
moves to be born
again and again

Friday, March 13, 2015

Road Tripping

on a road trip,
i got fear riding shotgun
he loves me in a twisted way
a codependent dream

or maybe i'm a hostage
giving in to stockholm
we've been out here so long
i think i forget

i have tried hard to lose him
in my rearview mirror,
but somehow he is always back in my ride

he tells me he is only looking out for my safety
but it feels more like bondage
suffocating and tight

one thing's for certain,
when i start looking
out there,
and that hopeful longing
comes across my face,
i feel him slide over
his coolness beside me
his hand on my neck
like a shadow of death

fear begets fear
i am weak and complacent
but if i cuddle up close
i feel he might disappear

i hesitate there
but the tug keeps on coming
a strong pull of knowing
liberation is near

i whisper

"fear i see you
i know you
i even love you
i am sorry i have kept you
all this time chained to me"

i stop
door opens
true understanding

 i whisper again

"now go on and be free"

This poem is about my personal relationship with fear.  I have focused intensely on inner emotional and spiritual healing and growth for many years now, and a fundamental part of this has been meeting fear over and over again. I have often become frustrated, wondering why fear keeps clinging to me, why, no matter how I try to process and release it, the next thing I know there it is again, riding shotgun.

I have slowly come to understand that I am in relationship with fear, and as much as I feel that it is fear that won't leave me, it is I who stay with fear. This pattern runs deep. Fear serves a purpose, it is a protector, a shelter, and I realize that I find a comfort on some level with that. I am fear dependent. I bring fear with me, it is a familiar place to hide, a friend that has always been there. Fear has never abandoned me, ever.

 I must point out that, in this poem, I am addressing a particular aspect of fear that I experience. This is the fear that keeps me small, that tells me not to show myself because I will get hurt. This is fear that keeps me from growing. There are other aspects of fear that are essential helpers, and have saved me on many occasions, from dangerous situations and even from myself.

I can only surmise that if I have this kind of experience with fear of this nature, others probably do as well. I am learning that the way to deal with this fear is to look in its eyes with love and compassion. Fear is a dimension of my self, and if I hate and despise it, I hate and despise a part of me. If I exile fear and ignore what it needs from me, it can not be healed and we remain chained together.

I try to become aware when I am operating or reacting from fear, and instead of recoiling or shrinking away, I allow myself to feel it, to go into it, to have my freak out. I can then apply breath, tell myself that it is okay to feel this way, and in opening to the feeling with compassion, it can begin to flow through instead of staying stuck within.

Everything that exists within us longs to move towards love and freedom, and we are the only ones who can create that, by choosing vulnerability and trusting our loving hearts to lead the way.

Monday, March 9, 2015

i come close

i come close to myself
i whisper the invitation
i am here
seeking the arms
of this one
the singular
that meets all others
i want to know
the hue and texture of my breath
the angle of my gaze
looking out
looking in
to fully see
every shade of longing, joy
despair and ecstasy
all the curves and hidden passageways
of my heart
if i am here for any purpose
it is to delight in the language
of my embodiment
to listen
to know
to sing my song
dance my dance
i come close to myself
closer still
to love you

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Combat Boot Kind of Day

it is a combat boot kind of day
the kind of day with marching to do
heavy things to kick
the kind of day for loud stomping
dances of tenacious will
screaming to the sky
a howling
that transforms to laughter
a day of might and muscle
to ward off the dull
achy brain haze

it is a combat boot kind of day
the kind of day where things
can shift
if i walk on forward
even though i'm scared
i hear the percussive beat
of each intentional step
medicine drum guide
saying the way is through
"break on through
to the other side"
i sing to myself my mantra

it is a combat boot kind of day
i march myself right to
my own center
i take off my boots
curl my toes in the warm sand
and dive in