Sharing Some More Poetry

Sometimes life is hard. In those hard moments writing, especially poetry, helps me. It has always been therapy for me as well as a creative outlet. Words are my soul. Words make up so much of who I am. Even though the things I may have felt in moments, days or weeks of depression, despair, frustration, hopelessness, etc. fade the words still mean something to me. And maybe they will mean something to someone else as well. That is one of the reasons I love poetry so much. It can touch someone through time and distance in so many different ways. Here are a couple of poems that may not be how I feel now, but are how I felt at some point and may be how someone else has felt or is feeling.

Honeysuckle Poison
by Tacy Gibbons

Scent of honeysuckle.
Nostalgia hits.

I can see the fence where its white flowers grew.
Smells of heaven and childhood.
Picking blossoms and sucking the sweet nectar down.

Memories now poisoned with the knowledge of your lies,
the truth of what you really were
polluting the sweetness like poison.

Reaching through time and memories,
choking on the bitter reality,
the past now tainted by your toxicity.

Yet, I rise up through the fallen petals,
let the poison fade.
The wave of nostalgia washes over and retreats.

And I am left only with the sweet scent
of honeysuckle.

A Day In the Life
by Tacy Gibbons

I am the captured tiger,
beaten into submission,
thrown into a cage.
My master holds the only key.

Head hanging, shoulders hunched,
sad eyes look longingly for the dream I used to live.
Master asks me to lift my head,
swish my tail and purr.
He needs life to feel normal again.

I sit in patience, surrounded by bars,
lift my head, swish my tail and purr,
hoping to please, hoping for companionship.
Master walks by, smiles and pats my head . . . 
then wanders off,
leaving me to my cage and defeat.

I am the captured tiger,
beaten into submission,
thrown into a cage.
My master holds the only key.

And I wonder—
if he ever lets me out, will I want to go?
Or will the caged life be all I remember?
All I want to know?

Or maybe—will I run?
Run to freedom and never look back.
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Slim Hope, But Still Hope

It’s easy to feel like my efforts to educate people on mental illness isn’t making a difference. Yet I keep trying because I keep hoping—somehow—that it will make a difference.

Just the other day I saw a post from someone I know about how angry she is that not everyone where she lives is wearing a mask or taking Covid seriously. She posted a parody on a song from Beauty and the Beast that used harsh, shaming, judgmental language about people who don’t wear masks. Things like how simple it is, it’s just a piece of fabric and just wear the f***ing mask. It broke my heart—not so much for myself, but for other people who have depression, anxiety and PTSD. For some of us, seeing something like that could be what finally pushes us to the brink of utter despair and even suicide.

Even after all this time, it’s not always that simple. If someone isn’t wearing a mask it doesn’t automatically mean we’re not taking Covid seriously. For those of us with anxiety masks are more than “just a piece of fabric”. Masks are claustrophobia that literally do make it so we can’t breathe and can’t function. For those of us with PTSD masks are the face of someone who assaulted or violated us. We are already struggling, while trying to do our best, without being shamed, condemned and judged.

This is a difficult time for so many people. Can’t we reach out in kindness and love instead of anger and hatred? I started, and continue, this blog in the hopes that it would help someone, in the hopes that it would educate, in the hopes that it will inspire. We can all have different beliefs and different struggles while still helping, educating and inspiring each other in love and positivity. As slim as my hope is, it’s what I’m hanging on to.

Despair and Hope

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I couldn’t say my positive affirmations today. I knew they’d be a lie. I’m not strong. I’m not confident. I’m not special. Today I felt just how un-special I am. How worthless. I thought of my kids, how they are my anchor at times like this. If not for them, I may have given into this dark despair. A part of me wanted to just end it all. I knew I couldn’t, though, for them—my kids.

While it is good to have that anchor, we need more. We need to believe it ourselves. At the same time I was feeling so lost, alone, depressed I also felt strength, first coming to me in the form of a song by Audiomachine, called No Matter What. Fitting, isn’t it? I thought about how, for most of my life, I’ve felt as if God meant for me to be alone. I’ve been alone so much of my life, as I am now. Listening to the music, looking at the mountains, I decided to embrace it. If God does mean for me to walk this life alone, then I will do it. I will do whatever He wants or needs me to. But the thing I realized is that I’m never truly alone. I have my thoughts, my imagination, Nature and my Father in Heaven. I know He is always there, and I know I can always draw on the peace of Christ’s atonement. While those thoughts of worthlessness continued to swirl around I also felt this sort of fire forging some kind of strength inside of me. God’s fire, God’s forge, God’s strength. And as I looked at the leaves on the trees, changing color, falling to the earth, I thought of how things don’t stay the same. Change happens. Things may be this way now, but that doesn’t mean they will remain this way forever.

In my last post I spoke of a conference the LDS church holds twice a year. An address from this last conference a couple of weeks ago that really stood out to me, that really spoke to me was by W. Christopher Waddell, second counselor in the presiding bishopric. He spoke of unexpected changes that happen in our lives and how we don’t have absolute control over everything, but that we do have control over how we respond. I have seen people who live their lives playing the part of a martyr or constantly throw pity parties because of all they have suffered. It is a life full of negativity. I don’t want to be that way. I will acknowledge that I have mental illness, I can admit that I struggle, and I will absolutely agree that I am far from perfect, but I will do my best to choose the strength God gives me to carry on.

I’ve spoken a lot about hope on this blog. It’s one of those intangible things that can be a double-edged sword. Almost one year ago I wrote of hope in my journal:

Hope is the thing with feathers* –  that flies away with my imagination and leaves me alone, bound in cold, dark reality.

It can be hard to have hope when everything you hope for seems to shatter around you. And yet I still cling to it—no matter what. Sometimes hope is all I have. So I hope, and I keep going.

*From poem 254 by Emily Dickinson