When I wrote this poem, I was thinking about ‘sticky notes,’ that I should have to remind myself of things about life. This week has been a week where I needed those ‘sticky notes.’ It’s strange because I have tons of poems and when I’m choosing what to post, something typically jumps out at me. It’s typically for different reasons. There are days when the weather feels like that poem does to me in its nature. There are days when I feel like it’s something the world could use, after reading a headline or living through a week of events. There are days when it’s just a color. I see poems in colors. Some are more red, some blue, some green, and when I choose one, sometimes, it’s because I want to project a little ‘red’ to the world or whatever. It can be a sound, a word, a phrase. It can be because I have something in a narrative to say and the poem fits deliciously, in my mind, with that narrative. There’s lots of reasons. The end of last week and this week were hard. Currently, it’s not talked about a ton, but the mental health field has watched ‘business boom.’ The world is in a pandemic, nation’s are divided, people are unable to pay rent, have lost jobs, roles have changed in households, routines have definitely changed, it’s winter (here) right now, the holidays passed and many did not get to see family and friends and have not for months, people are lonely, anxiety is at an all time high, as is depression. People are struggling to keep their sobriety. I could go on and on…. As a therapist, it’s busy, it’s unique, and different. As therapists, we are trained to ’empathize, validate,’ but not take on every client’s problem. For the first time, maybe in the history of ‘modern psychology,’ we also are living the same trauma most of our clients are going through. It’s often funny because clients will talk to me sometimes as if I’m not living in the current state of affairs, which is fine, the session is about them and it’s their time and space. However, I live in that same world. Often, I live in a world that is more secluded. I took an oath of ‘do no harm.’ I work in a clinic with all individuals who are immunocompromised. It is in my oath, even after that second dose of vaccine is in my arm, to make sure my clients are safe. My biggest fear is not them getting me sick. It never has been during this pandemic. Of course, I get anxiety about it like everyone, but I would have a far more challenging time living with one of them getting sick from coming to session. Each client has the right to choose if they want to come in, in person, and see me or see me via phone or Zoom. I know that. I also know that, for some, that hour with me is they’re one hour to get out of the house, to talk to someone (outside of family or just a familiar face, who knows their story). For some, they just need a safe space to cry, another adult to look them in the eye and acknowledge, ‘You’re ok.’ I get that, and I take it seriously and do everything I can to keep them safe. It’s been interesting to go from always seeing people in person to phone or Zoom. Some people, opened up like they never have before in person. Others struggled. It’s an adjustment to not be in a room with someone who is worked up and not be able to see them and have to trust just your voice, your words, to guide them from some dark places. It’s definitely been a growing period. The last couple weeks I often go 8-9 sessions back to back, no break. It’s a challenge to go from one trauma to the next, to get one person’s emotion ‘contained,’ and start back over again without a minute or two, to hear heartbreaking things and not have a minute to process or think about it, and to pick up the phone, jump on a computer, or grab someone in the waiting room with a smile and a fresh start. It’s been exhausting at time. There are days when I walk out of work and I just feel like I’ve crashed into a concrete wall. I just want to go home and go to bed, but life has to go on. I have relationships to maintain. I have to somehow find a way to move through the days feelings and rejuvenate. In all honesty, my favorite things to do (writing, reading, talking to friends and family via the phone) take effort. I go in every morning and trust that something greater is looking over me, advising me, giving me the words, the right things to do/say, and I have to trust it. If nothing else, my faith in that has been strengthened. I sincerely believe that I’m being guided and that gives me solace, in a time where self-doubt is just waiting in the wings to sweep me under. The last two weeks have proven that time and time again. I’ve felt like I’ve had bombs dropped on me, and in the moment, I just had to trust that what I was doing was being guided by something higher than me. Each morning, I meditate and ask for that, and each day I believe my job is to show up, to be present without expectation, and to trust that everything I need to know how to do is inside of me. I found this poem called “Reminders,” which is the poem I wrote a few years ago, when I was having some health issues and, again, I had to ‘trust,’ that whatever happened was supposed to happen. Due to this week being so heavy, I went through a lot of poems and shot them down. Then I found this one. It felt right. It gave me some comfort, so I am trusting it. It might not be the right poem for you at the right time, and I’m trusting that maybe, even for just one person, it is.
A piece of paper is nothing until it contains the words of a poem.
The sun is never cold, but we shiver under its radiant glow.
A peach is still a peach when it’s rotten and turned brown.
Things change and remain the same.
The bruise is still a bruise whether it be light or dark purple.
The man is still the boy he was at one, ten, twenty.
The mother is still a mother even as a grandmother.
The skipping record still plays music.
The broken heart takes in the same blood as the newly born.
You might be holding the hand of the sexiest person alive whose fingerprints are an infants.
You are probably holding the same hand some other person once never imagined letting go of.
A prayer is still a prayer no matter what emotions it wears.
I can still see my eager childhood breath running out in front of my adult body.
When I call out your name in the darkness, it’s your name whether you recognize it as such anymore.
I can let a lot darkness in and still be light.
I can lose my grasp and still be hanging onto something, even if just barely.
Reverse is still movement.
A dream can be forgotten, but it was still a dream.
Think of how many different things we call ‘weather.’
Dust can fall in the sunlight and look like a sun shower, but it’s still dust particles.
How we re-arrange objects might make them look or feel better,
but at the end of the day, they still contain the same properties and matter.
I remind myself of these thoughts constantly and know them,
but when I’m hurting the world feels like a different place,
even though it’s still this giant rock, third from the sun.
The light might change, but it’s still light.
My world feels like it got tipped upside down, but the polls haven’t shifted.
North is north and south is south. Even when the direction of my mood shifts.
I have to keep telling myself these truths to know when I’m not ok, I’m still me.
When I believe no one is around, I think of waves.
In the middle of the ocean on cold nights, how they must get so lonely,
but then they remind themselves they’re still water in motion
that always comes to connect to some shore, where they will crash
in a gasp. Exhausted but affirmed, that there is always a point
to hold on for, a boundary, a break, a moment to breathe………