Each of us finds the best way to process our feelings. I have discovered writing as one important outlet for me. Sometimes I write a jumble of feelings, a stream of consciousness. Sometimes it is a letter to myself or someone else. Sometimes a dialogue or an emotional travelogue. Often it is poetry. Poetry captures the words of my heart in ways other writing simply does not. This edition of Beyond Survival: Still We Rise features the poetry of a survivor, Ben.
I met Ben in 2019 at my first Weekend of Recovery (WOR). It was his third WOR in the last 10 years. He is a creative, courageous man and a wonderful friend. Like many of us his journey of healing has been long with unexpected twists and turns. One practice in his recovery is the writing of poetry. Below are two of his poems which inspired the design of a t-shirt created at a Weekend of Recovery.
Do you have a poem or a picture which shares words of your heart? They could speak to someone on this healing journey. I’d love to read them and perhaps include them in a future blog post. Feel free to send them my way (email@example.com).
I Run! By Ben May 10, 2019 I run to expand my breath I run to expand my self I run because I can I run My breath was taken from me Not in one fell swoop But slowly Pressed out of me through time and space Blackness overcame Darkness absorbed the laughter that lived in my eyes And I became flat To survive I flattened my soul into a corner A whisper of fresh air spoke to me And I gasped But the pressure was too great My attempts to breathe only caused more pain And I remember the feeling of fresh air Cool and crisp Hovering outside my lips waiting to enter my body And I longed for relief And if I turned towards the darkness Flattened myself as much as I could I could hold on to that crisp refreshing air just long enough to bring a fresh sense of being alive And so On that day I became scared of the world around me Scared of my light Scared of the smile in my eyes and the laughter in my heart A terror awoke in me that has been my main frame since 1979 And now it is 2019. It seems so long I need to count the years on my fingers ’79…’89…99…09..19 That makes 40 years. But wait…I just turned 48. HOLY SHIT – THAT MEANS I ONLY HAD 8 YEARS ON THE THIS EARTH BEFORE MY BREATH WAS TAKEN. My breath was stolen from me when I was 8 years old. And now I run to breathe again I breathe so I can expand And in my breath I find surprises from the past that have cast forward to my present Smiling eyes A laughing heart Fresh crisp air a knowing of compassion a love for myself I have lived in a flattened reality for so long I fear sometimes that I have lost my multi-dimensional self And am always so surprised when I find him Ready to play in the world So I run So I dance So I listen to loud music So I look at old pictures So I hug my children So I hug my wife So I pet any dog I can So I swim So I bike And all of this brings back my breath So I can LIVE!
A feather By Ben September 13, 2019 A feather has fallen with the weight of a stone Who knew a feather could be so heavy That it lands with a thud on a mountain top of memories And can trigger an earthquake? Who knew that when a feather fell and was found in the tall grass of a field It held the weight of memories And once landed could not be picked up without great strength and resolve Who knew a feather…floating down innocently, quietly, and hardly noticeable Could trigger a hurricane with a wake of destruction coming behind it. Unable to sleep, think, eat, spend time with my children or talk with my wife Without being tickled into a rage I am so ready to turn this page And the tremors that lie below come They arrive like an aftershock Oh yes – this earthquake happened long ago Now I remember But the tremors, the aftershocks, the shakiness has been building The tension and force of not unforgotten, but unremembered memories rise And like a volcano spew hot molten rock over the landscape of my life RUN. RUN. RUN. RUN LIKE HELL! But I no longer have the will to run from these memories I no longer have the strength to keep them down I no longer have the compartments to hold them So they come… Full of details my memories flood from the geyser of my mind. Unstoppable like a force of nature. Ha… Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Tsuanmi, and… My Memories. They all fit into one category. So I stand there while flaming rock spews from beneath And I don’t tremble. Because now all of those flames that have been inside me are no longer there. I watch them fall around me scorching the ground. And I actually stand embracing this experience with relief. Because all of that heat All of that hatred All of that self-loathing All of that fear All of that confusion All of that anger All of that shame All of that pain Is no longer held within And I can see and feel that I held all of that inside for so long. But without that who am i? and who will I become?