Sometimes
You will find yourself in difficult situations,
That linger, frustrate, and refuse to relent.
As your anxiety intensifies
Rumination, frustration, and exhaustion
Are sure to follow,
And gradually you become something less than yourself
Until all that remains
Is an unwelcome stranger;
An encounter with your shadow.

Sometimes
When you are mired inside the stress of your circumstance,
Faithful to the principle
Of misery demanding company,
The frightened child within seeks relief
By imposing your anxiety on the other
Through barbs, criticisms, and wounds,
While allowing your dis-ease
To contaminate the life of another.

And sometimes
The heaviness and inertia of your tension
Compel you to live in a closed, constricted, and confined way
While you engage is the same old reactions
And apologies
Now worn out and made hollow
By the tired, repetitive words that refuse to live

Do you not know that rumination may destroy you?
Do you not know that incessant busyness will offer no release?
Do you not know that your anger is the essence of your exile?
All tension seeks release
Why do you hold on to it
As if it is something to be cherished?
Even stress tires of itself.

Find your way
Back into the real conversation
The one that is about your life exactly as it is
Do not become the servant of your fears
Leave all the ruminations behind
You know where they will drag you
Refuse to waste energy on that which causes harm
The weight of the world is on all our shoulders
Can we bear it together?

This is what your difficulties in life are trying to tell you…
You have little control over the circumstances of your life
It has always been this way
You say that you already know that
But you do not act, behave, or live as if you do
You still want your life to be convenient and consistent
It won’t be
And to approach the difficulties of life in this way
Is to be the cause of your own suffering

Stop telling yourself how hard it all is
Or how poorly life has treated you
The only genuine control you have is within
Let your anxieties become a faculty for understanding
And then turn,
In this moment,
And walk toward that foreboding confluence
To reclaim your own shadow
And invite it home

Notes

  1. This is another self-care poem taking the form of an internal conversation. Sometimes, the act of writing a poem reveals more than expected. Although not mentioned directly, it is undoubtedly influenced by the stress and uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
  2. Poetry is sometimes an attempt to write something that encourages a deeper understanding of internal sources of distress, striving to become large enough to allow it, and then searching for ways to transform it into wisdom.
  3. The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness (CFM) maintains an interesting Mindful Poetry page focused on self-care.