Gratitude for an Illness

There is something so cathartic in finding out there is actually something physically wrong with you. For the first time in so long, I’ve felt a softness, a tenderness toward myself. Compassion has been streaming from my eyes in the form of hot tears at random intervals for the last few days. Despite all the fear and uncertainty and struggle that still lies before me, there is a sense of sweet vindication.

It might seem strange to feel grateful for external validation of being sick, but it feels so much better than believing you’re just not trying hard enough even though you have nothing left to give. I’m overwhelmed by that beautiful healing break of tension. All of my frustration, and futile efforts finally making sense. The relief of no longer gaslighting myself into thinking I could be better, that I’m lazy, that I’m exaggerating, that I’m just ungrateful, that I should be capable of more than this.

It finally feels okay to rest, to be kind to myself, to acknowledge that I’ve been doing a great job. It’s not just in my head. My years of struggling distress have been real. I’m doing everything I can, even going above and beyond what I should be capable of. I’m not a mentally/spiritually/emotionally broken person. I’m not a bad person. I’m not a failure. I’m just sick. And maybe I can even get better. For the first time in so long, I feel it. I feel that stirring, timid excitement of “maybe I can get better.”

And even if I can’t get better, I’m going to try. Even if I get worse, I’ll still feel better knowing that none of this is my fault. That, in fact, I’m actually quite incredible. There is no shame in feeling tired and overwhelmed. I’ve been overcoming so much every single day. And I am so, so grateful to finally be able to make sense of it all and acknowledge how hard I’ve been working.



A ribcage composed of crystal shards
reflects the light to that center channel
once dark core emblazoned by your gleam
ignited with amplified ricochets of sharp delight

A life redoubled through steady gazes
heartbeats magnified by mirrors unfolding
increasing staccato cadence of urgency
to create, to become something more

Small, furry fiddlehead ferns unravel
amidst the crunchy, cluttered forest floor
unnoticed awakening of a secret world
while I am kept in shivering paralysis

The magnetic pull of patient hope
slow meeting of raindrops, smooth pane of glass
streaming dizzily down together at last
delicious liquid drip of new life

Feeling Soft

Everything was soft inside of me again
the sunlight pierced my unfurling soul
a sudden opening of the vacuum sealed air
encircling my swimming, distorted thoughts
my heart burst open, there was space to breathe

Fragile reflections in water droplets
held together by microscopic tension
pressing softly into fresh hues of green
the sensual humming silence that rises
in anticipation of a new dawn

Subtly shifting oil painting sky
melting through pink and blue clouds
I've finally found something worth the fear
of being completely swallowed up
and reshaped by an unknown hope

Final First Days

Final crisp air of the last days of winter
fragile, foolish hopes glisten with the frost
my life is cracking open to reveal a new season
finding shelter from sunlight in the cool moss

It's hard to keep turning pages when
the book seems halfway finished
making paper cranes with yellowed edges
translating words that weren't written in english

Skittish tip-toe steps towards the sunrise
unsure sounds of someone else, footsteps at my side
breathe me in deeply with the humid air of summer
protective ribcage sanctuary, by your heart I will reside

Night and Day

Hope crests like a wave at midday
crashing with violence against the shore
following the sun's dreadful descent
a familiar shadow eclipses my soul

All faith is absent that another day will surely follow
the darkness drips into the deepest parts of me
the phantom weight of hate and fear
slithers through veins and suffocates

I always feel silly when the dawn returns
to thaw the midnight frost from my heart
illuminating the sky with fresh expectation
if only the light would linger a little longer

Unconscious Promises

Painful patience, a life spent waiting
small sudden leaps forward make
the stretches of stagnation insufferable

Sharp pain of perpetual sunrise
when I'd rather be left dreaming
unconscious haven stripped away

Forced to face that throbbing ache
that settles back over after sleep
growing greater as the day goes on

Shuffling onward by the sheer force
of peaceful midnight prophesies
I only half-heartedly believe

Hope finds a way to keep on hurting
it's still so tempting to surrender all of myself
to shadows of love whispered sweetly as I dream 

Hopes That Itch

expectations, crawling insects
infestation of hopes that itch
extinguishing the burning fever
the bloodletting leeches of things to come

Acupuncture, pins and needles
heaping on holistic self-harm
trying to exterminate the sensation
of skittering agitation under tight skin

Silence the clicking, humming drone
that violently vibrates my consciousness
shut out the deafening cicada symphony
with deadbolts and double pane windows

Daydream beetles crawl snuggly inside every crack
all these creeping cravings keep me from breathing
it's better to be empty and let the air drift in and out
I should know, hands that reach for honey get stung

Sowing Seeds

Happiness hangs on secret hopes
a strange, simmering sentimentality
a delicious half-formed delusion
that cannot possibly end well

The dizzy, lurching, sea-sick love
that has no real place in reality
humoring the hazardous pleasure
that will inevitably harden into pain

Enjoying the act of sowing old seeds
without worrying what the blossoms will be
is it wasting water to plant a garden
just to savor a few rare moments of sunshine?

Why Risk It?

Why am I still contemplating
creative new ways to cause myself pain?
how is it that all of these years
have not touched this yearning?

Can it really be a mere illusion
the way these thoughts light me up inside?
am I meant to simply be grateful for memories
and images that will never be made manifest again?

Maybe the meaning is the love itself
made not to be reciprocated, but to remind me
that I am capable of genuine unconditional devotion
that the liquid depths of my soul still exist

All intention is lost in the static of raw emotion
what do I really expect for the outcome of reaching out?
afraid I'll end up losing this thunderclap of hope
that still crashes upon me from time to time

The electric current of sudden signs
that make my heart start cracking open
with the swelling ache of undying affection
that smarts and soothes simultaneously

I shudder to think what would be left
if I lost this last refuge of lingering longing
the safe harbor I've held onto of precious pain
that is sweeter than any prayer

Persistent Heart

The heart will hope relentlessly
foaming at the mouth to find
the smallest pinhole ray of light

Perfect persistence of spirit
the boundless song of belief
that provides moments of peace in pain

An inner ember of forever faith
unable to be extinguished despite everything
the benevolent ability of finding reasons to breathe

Hope is a mercy from the higher self
that shelters us from complete despair
the solitary star that keeps us striving

Resiliency bestowed from some secret inner strength
sweet echoed illusions from a future yet to come
this experience of the heart surpasses all outcomes