When The Strong Ones Need Support

I’ve been a pillar
The heart of things
Listening and holding space
Praying
Doing life
At first a role
That later became a gift and a blessing

Yet I’ve lived a certain way
Always under the assumption
Of needing help
Yet not wanting to come off
In a negative light
Or to be looked down on

I can be vulnerable
I can share
Initiative is another story
When I don’t always have the language
To articulate experiences or perspectives

Or I spend more energy providing disclaimers
For the sake of comfort

But I want to lean in
To allow myself to be seen and heard
Even when I don’t know what support
Or letting someone “be there” looks like
Depending on the situation
It could be an embrace
Affirmation
Perhaps even validation
Letting it out
Dancing it out
If nothing else, a reminder that I’m not walking alone

Yes I’m strong
Brave
A fighter
A warrior
But I’m also human and not invincible
I don’t want to be untouchable
Or isolated
Despite the above being a response to how I’ve lived
For so long

And I’m tired
And trying to unwire
To say “I need you”
To sit with me
And stand together
Carry me when I need rest
Not to complain
But to connect

Unpacking (Another Kind of) Weight

When an anchor feels like a sinker
And you can’t seem to ride the wave
Insecurities, overthinking
Creating a ball and chain
Do this
Be that
What the world doesn’t take it account
That it takes two to make a mess or a miracle
And it’s not on you to have it all figured out

Let go of the blame
Reframe the shame
What’s meant for you is yours
Consider it a victory that you showed up
Being nothing but yourself
It’s heavy, that’s clear
Embrace the tears
But remember one thing for sure
You’re not meant to carry the weight of the world
And sure as hell not all of yours

Another rejection, another hurt
What the blank happened and why
Reasons are complex and layered
Don’t run in circles trying to justify
Take and step back and keep your feet flat
The sun will rise again

Remember that you are loved, valued, and wanted
Even when people try to tell you otherwise
You do not need everyone to see you or understand you
Though acceptance is enough when understanding isn’t always possible

Get out of your head and into your heart
Blank spaces will be filled when they’re meant to
Focus on the truth of who you are
What you were made for
Use your energy wisely
And don’t let ever changing culture dictate your heart or your eyes

Inside

Off like a rocket it went

A brother dodging danger

A brief relief with a birthday and the beach

But when spring began it’s usual bloom

The warning signs began to blare

A virus, novel and like no other

From one corner of the world to the next

//

“Stay inside” reverberated some

While a so-called president twiddled his thumbs

Playing it off like a failed casino bet

Omission of truth, for who’s sake?

Declared a pandemic, despite the questioning and ignoring of common sense

Daily news briefs were almost too much to bear

Anxiety, chest pains, and lack of appetite by day

Depression descended as evening fell

//

“Routine, Productivity, Positivity!”

My body responding differently

I didn’t want comfort as much as I wanted personal connection

To physically feel common threads

My extroverted self a little lost in the hubbub

Afraid of losing the confidence I’d gained in the last year

//

So I stayed inside

Detesting “new normal”

Preferring currently reality

Though the unknowns loomed larger 

Than dormancy

A reprieve through walks and sunshine

Access to the water

Mom started a new chapter

The city came alive again

//

Behind closed doors

The desire to walk through fire

To support those who were struggling

To keep living, keep going

They needed me, and I needed them

Late nights

Deep conversations

Protective, patient, and learning how to hold space

Finding different ways

To carry them however I could

Capped by a reunion

A long time coming

//

And then the second wave

Predictable at one point

But could have been avoided

By collective responsibility and respect

The plea to stay inside again

Saved by the grace of changing colors and important milestones

I relished the tv specials

The snuggling up to read, watch, and just be

Real rest, without fear of missing out

My work in progress for as long as I can remember

//

But the fatigue is real

Body aches with unknown origins

Colder weather?

Lack of usual activity?

A response to stress?

//

Yet the most challenging aspect

Was not the confinement of four walls

But the confinement of thoughts inside my mind

Swirling around like storms

To reach out or give space?

To tell the truth, or pretend I’m ok?

Are you ok? Are we ok?

To ask for what I want/need

Or hold it in for as long as possible

//

Distraction could only do so much

When the healthy distractions weren’t always available

Overthinking, deeply feeling

Jealousy, more questions than answers

My prayers feeling dry and without heart

Sitting in the tension

I’m still learning

//

And as the calendar turns again

Cautiously Optimistic comes to mind

With new leadership

New possibilities

Changing seasons

A new year

//

I dream of music and dancing again

Lots of people

Opportunities for living

Being in nature

Assertive

Growing Confidence

Expression

Thriving

Roaring

When You Need A Little Extra Help

I wrote this as I was holding space for someone whom I’m care about very much. This kind of decision should not be made lightly, and should always involve professional evaluation and input. I wrote this based on my own personal experience, and ask that it do not be taken as gospel.

I take a little pill each day
And I was scared at first.
Would it change my personality?
Would it make things even worse?
I had a lot of questions, which were answered with patience and care.
Follow the instructions
Pay attention to your mood and feelings
And then take it from there.

So I took that little pill each day
And it took a couple of weeks.
Over time I noticed that there was a change
But a change involving good things.
I wasn’t crying as much anymore
And the chest pains went away.
I had the headspace that felt lighter and brighter
And the motivation to go about my day.
Some people say I mellowed out
“You’re not as bubbly as you used to be!”
My friend, it’s called the typical stresses of adulthood
Hormones and PMSing.

Haven’t you heard of puberty?

It’s not always magic and instantaneous
I still have to do the work.
Reframing anxious thoughts and coping with uncertainty
But I stay off the edge, for what it’s worth.

It can take some trial and error
Many options, and not all have the same purpose or results.
But it’s better to try and try again
Then to strive for mental wellness
And yet do nothing at all.

What works for me, may not work for you
That’s entirely okay.
But if you’re not a doctor or professional
Please be careful with what you say.
Some people need that little pill, but avoid it due to fear.
Fear of stigma
Fear of criticism
Wanting to be superhuman in the eyes of strangers
But especially to those they most hold dear.

It’s not a lack of faith
Or a desire to numb out.
I’d rather not get stuck inside the prison that is my head at times.
To be able to connect and build relationships.
To seek and experience joy
Is what life is all about!

So if you need that little pill
There’s nothing wrong with you!
Human beings have complexities
Who need a little help, that much is true.

I think it’s brave
I think it’s wise
And who is anyone to judge?
If you take a little pill
You have my support and love!

The Mental Health Generation

Born on the edge of the days of old

Coming of age in the dawn of digital social status

Flanked by news screens screaming tragedy and terror

Trauma absorbed from that which seemed impossible to comprehend

Guns, death tolls, and hatred

An amplification of algorithms, metrics, and trolls

The elders shake their heads

“Glad we didn’t grow up like that”

Columbine, 9/11, “video games lead to violence”

Tone deaf thoughts and prayers every time

Calls for change

Pushback from the NRA

Cycle going round and round

The message lost

In a cacophony of who’s to blame

Myspace, Facebook, Instagram

Bullying comes to the forefront again

On the screen instead of on the ground

Comparison, jealousy all around

Anxiety goes up

In person interaction goes down

Secrets passed from one person to the next

Carrying weight like a prison sentence

Depression

Addiction

Codependence

Broken relationships

Acting as if all is well

And the truth stays hidden

Screens, shouting, and silence

Is this all there is?

Life continued

But a movement stirred

The generation perceived as “me”

Slowly, but surely, became a “we”

The we that believes in therapy

Asking questions

Going deeper

Being vulnerable (with an open heart)

Building community

Coming together

The we that believes in medicine

As long as one needs it

Perhaps temporarily, or longer

A balance

Clearing the fog

Despite trial and error

So that joy can be sought and found

And the we that understands

That mental wellness is not one size fits all

There are barriers, physical and financial 

What works for me, may not work for you

And that’s more than okay

There is always opportunity for peace, relief, and healing

Today and every day

It takes as long as it takes

A lifestyle, not a timeline

Each day as it comes

One foot in front of the other

Love Right

My last two dating relationships have involved caring for guys who were battling some form of addiction. I often found out much later, when they couldn’t hide it anymore. I did eventually set boundaries, and I’m grateful and proud of that, but yet still processing how to move forward. I’m much more aware of what I need, and what I can ultimately handle, but am still learning. And I know I’m not alone in that.

I fell under false pretenses

A mirage

And while I suppose we all see what we want to see

In those we love (or envision loving)

I took what was presented to me

Stable, gentle, strong, sensitive, yet not quite vulnerable

And while I didn’t hit the concrete

They didn’t catch me either

It was more like being dropped

One carried demons

Hurts and fears and anxieties 

That he couldn’t hold himself

Instead, drowning in drink

Reckless words and actions

Professions forgotten by the next day

And I held him too

With shaky hands

Walking a fine line

Of supporting without succumbing

A lover

Not a mother or a therapist

The next walked in on a cold city’s night

His touch, secure

A job, not tied to his past, and a life

A man’s man, I thought

He acted like a partner from night one

We got comfortable; perhaps too comfortable

My only qualm, his lack of depth

Nothing came up naturally

And the burden of broaching subjects fell on me

Here I was, terrified of bursting the bubble

It did anyway

Promises of stability, even commitment

Then silence

Anger, along with the linger of teenage cologne and cigarettes 

Fading as a year passed

Time and spoken truth were enough to push me forward

Until he tried to grab me again

Claiming he had been wronged

When he was truly running from wrong he’d done

One that resulted in serious consequences

Days I wasn’t in his arms,

 He was trying to avoid concrete walls and metal bars 

I never knew until then

He still asked for a second chance

I couldn’t go there again

When it was out of pity, and not the possibility of love

“I’m a magnet for the addicted”

I lamented

Compassionate to a fault

I understand that brokenness is real

But I don’t want to lose myself

It’s not about your past, or black and white

But love is loving well, and loving right

I believe in transparency, sensitivity, and imperfection

Grace upon grace, as they say

Yet what is grace, without personal responsibility?

Face your darkness, and own it

Before saying that you want me

You need me

Or I’m your everything 

I’m my own being

Not a half to a whole

Nearly drowning in other’s messes is getting kind of old

I need to be supported too

Let me get a word in edgewise

And me cared for too please

Lament, Stand With

Another name

Another murder

Since 2014 (from what I can remember)

The list keeps growing

Weep for a week

Then the collective keeps going

 

Human rights

Too big for my freshly post-grad brain

Back then “I don’t know enough to say something worth saying”

So I stayed in my lane

 

But it wasn’t about lanes

Or what’s personal versus what’s not

It’s about LIFE

Life taken for merely being

The poison of prejudice still runs deep

In the hands that hold power

Power to protect, or so I thought

 

Mirrors up, defenses down

“I’m not this, because I don’t say/do that”

But I was wrong

All along

I had perpetuated it 

With fear

With avoidance

And with silence

The well was too overwhelming

But now it’s time to dig

To sift

And shift

 

Work that desperately needs to be done

Despite the questions, fearing mess-ups, and lack of experience

But better show up an imperfect fighter

Than continue to be an accomplice in the crowd

 

To not save, but sit with

To stand, but not for performance

To speak, despite shaking

To educate and learn 

Again 

And again

 

Reading

Listening

Absorbing

Holding space for difficult conversations

Not fragile, but humble

Acknowledging privilege 

Acknowledging a pain I’ll never understand

To walk in seeking justice 

And celebration of what is

Beautiful

God-made

Worthy

Creation

Take Me To The Water

When the new dawn broke

So did I

A movement

A leaning in

Beyond books and quiet morning prayers

Becoming a face of what I had once avoided

Perhaps even feared

Quenched in me what I didn’t know I needed

 

Connection

Conversation

And Community

 

But something popped up

Which has me at a loss of description

A cloud? A fence of thorns? Surreality? 

Unprecedented circumstances keeping human contact at bay

Unable to open doors, exchange greetings, or even touch

 

Technology, having been soured by old-fashioned rhetoric

Has now become a lifeline to our loved ones

And to the outside world

But so many

Already weary

Stuck between “new normal” and “temporary reality”

 

More recently, on a walk

The rain came down

And I felt it seep to my bones

But I wasn’t cold, or discouraged

I welcomed it

A washing of current anxieties, grief, and fears

 

And I began to envision again

The new dawn of a new season

Not by a calendar year, but one of hope

Where distance is not bound by six feet 

Gathering freely

Dancing, singing, and embracing

Lingering for a little longer

Not rushing from point A to point B

 

Until then

Lead me to the water

Where peace lives, in my mind and in my spirit

Cascading on my like the falls

Sprinkling like rain

Filling my soul

Again and again

And regardless of what happens, or when

May the well within me

Not dry up

A Virus and A Reckoning

 

There were initially whispers of warning

Something is coming, sickness will spread

That were largely quieted by selfish ambition

Self-preservation  over people

Stocks over saving lives

Drowning out concern with cries of “hoax!”

Denying experts the right and necessity to speak

And hiding the truth from all who needed to hear it

Not a big deal

It will go away

 

But it hasn’t, and now hear we are

Hunkered down to ease the rise and chaos

Daily life, collectively, has come to a screeching halt

Like misbehaved children, we are forced to think about

What we should have done 

In terms of heeding the cries of science

Weaponizing faith and privilege instead

Of being mindful and prepared

 

For extroverts, a new territory

How long has it been since I last stayed home this long?

No social gatherings, church, or bopping around the city

Like living in an alternate universe

How the actual hell did we get here?

But I welcome the resting, reading, and reconnection

 

And from this I’ve seen

That connection is essential 

To the human experience

Conversation, vulnerability

And physical touch

The latter which I crave

And miss the most

 

But where do we go from here

When a lack of leadership and transparency

Have brought us collectively

To such a dark place in history

A legacy stained by lies, corruption, and sickness

Those on the right side of history trust facts and science

More than blubbering buffoons 

 

I pray for healing, restoration, and protection

Accountability for politicians that looked the other way

That we may learn from this devastating season

Taking a damn good look at ourselves

What many have enabled

 

There might be dollars and so-called power in big business

But solidarity in the small and local

Heroism belongs to the every-day workers who cannot stay home

God go with all of those on the front lines of this crisis

Let us support them, honor them, and lend them our hands

For there is speaking truth to power

And power in speaking the truth

 

I anticipate the day

When I can wrap my arms around the people I love

Dance in public

And worship in community

A celebration unlike one I’ve ever felt or seen

Until then I pray for peace and ease

Waiting and expecting

Let it be so

When You Get Nervous

It was a Sunday summer evening
Been a few since I wore the dress
I could hear a loud noise beating as I rested my head
I asked if all was okay
As he kissed my hair so softly
Told me I was a sight of beauty
And that’s what made his heart go so fast

Flattered, but lost for words
Knowing my thoughts were similar
But wanting to feel protected, rather than a carry a savior complex

The road from seed to flower can be complicated
Zigging, zagging, and maybe riding off the rails
And God only knows what the other side entails.

But here, in this moment, I know it’s not easy

Your past, and present fears speaking loudly

When you’re nervous, think of strength
Your arms that will hold
Another body, and that same heart

When you’re scared, think of risk
Risk lies in our deepest dreams and desires
Given to us by One that is Higher
Success, security, and the fiercest of love.

Love’s worthiness is not determined by reciprocation or rejection
But the willingness to live a noteworthy life.

When you look at me, all nerves and racing hearts and fears
I hope you’ll remember the love that is already in you
The love that carried you here
And may that guide you to seek me and pursue me
Knowing that what is given, can also be taken away
To be present, pursue, and serve with purpose
Bold, brave, and beautiful
This moment
And every day