Let Me Sleep

It's not fair I can't fall asleep with the trees every winter
and only rise again when the distant sun returns
being left abandoned in this windswept landscape
is too much agony to endure year after year

Left to live as a corpse in this cold darkness
denied the sweet slumber offered to half of nature
unable to escape into an expanded unconsciousness
until I am awaked by the scent of spring flowers

Half my life is wasted waiting for the thaw
huddled into myself for safety and warmth
where the beauty of the silent snow
cannot creep into my veins

Patience is a virtue I have not been artful in
the ticking clock torments me and tears me down
telling me I must rise and not let time slip by
while my delicate soul continues to shiver
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Sick of Self-Care

Acts once performed with the intention of loving kindness
have become just additional burdens of mindless routine
every little task now resonates with resentment
self-care disfigured and transmuted into self-harm

Somehow I turn even healing practices into poison
to punish myself for not meeting my own expectations
what is there inside me that turns self-love so sour?
why doesn't putting in the work work for me?

Tools I was told would transform me if I was patient
were twisted into weapons of perfectionism
just more masochistic mutations of all the miracles
I used to think would some day save me

I'm so tired of this futile self-improvement project called me
the pearls of ancient wisdom I've turned to soot within my fingers
the internal pressure of trying to get better is
the terminal illness of my inner-most essence

January 2023

January punishes with pale grey glances
punctuated by ragged breaths of sharp wind
the air is empty of all familiar affection
no more lingering, soft caresses from the sun

The candles have all been extinguished on hearths
and families that had gathered for feasting
seem to have long since dispersed and dissolved
back into this new year of silent, bleak darkness

Expected to set goals while my soul is frozen over
exhausted by the pitiful effort of just trying to get by
themes of death thud against the weather worn door
while paper crane wishes are swallowed up in icy oblivion

Winter is a season where time stands still
and all perspective on life is lost within waiting and
the halfhearted insistence I'll feel good again in spring
promise me this practice of painful patience will pay off 

Unnecessary Need

I resent the need for community
the suffocation that settles over the soul
after prolonged periods of being utterly alone

I'm not presumptuous enough to suppose
that other people could ever value me
I wouldn't ask for what I don't deserve

The human condition is being put in the position
to require some amount of social support that
I am unwillingly compelled to pursue

I won't pray for things I haven't earned, that I am unfit for
all I ask is to be spared the pain of possessing
a basic need that always aches, but cannot be fulfilled

Please let the empty spaces satiate
fill me up with the silence beneath everything
make this loneliness enough for me

What It Takes

I just don't have what it takes
to improve my lot in life
I thought I did everything right
to make the cut to survive

I don't have what it takes
to struggle for years for
a small chance of success
in the distant future

I don't have what it takes
and it's hard to keep hearing I do
from people that mean well
but don't see that I'm already drowning

I don't have what it takes
to hold myself together or muster
the mental fortitude to do more
there isn't anything left inside to give

I don't have what it takes
to try harder than I am right now
it's embarrassing to try to explain
that this is everything I've got

ASD and Decision Making

One of the many struggles I have in life that I attribute to my undiagnosed Autism is my utter inability to make decisions. I’ve felt like decisions were so much harder for me to make than my peers even as a young child, but I feel it’s only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older and the decisions I’m faced with every day have become more and more serious and important. It’s hard enough for me to decide what to wear or what to make for dinner, let alone if I should take a new job or move.

I used to be more able to make a decision if I felt somewhat forced into it out of discomfort. I’d wait until I reached my breaking point, where the discomfort of not choosing a different path exceeded the discomfort of change. However, that threshold for discomfort has become larger and larger as I become more dependent on and attached to my routines. It feels impossible to make a big decision regardless of how certain I feel it will be good for me, because I know it will inevitably cause turmoil and disrupt my normal patterns and habits for awhile. Despite unhappiness with where I am, it still feels easier to just let things remain how they are. At least I know what to expect, even if it’s nothing good.

I’ve been trying to focus on the positive things I stand to gain from making a change. Part of me does get excited at the idea of beginning a new phase of life for myself. Who knows what wonderful new things might enter my life if I only have the courage to make room for them? However, I am immediately terrified and overwhelmed with the idea of the immediate future that lies before any of those benefits. How on earth can I bear the pivotal moments of action? It seems like an insurmountable task. I wish I was able to press a button, make the decision, and wake up a few weeks later beyond the initial aftermath.

Possibly worst of all is the feelings of guilt, shame, disappointment I feel with myself for not being able to do this. It’s hard to even talk about with other people, because I am so embarrassed. I can’t really ask for advice, because it’s obvious what they’ll tell me I need to do. Part of me is afraid that their certainty will push me into action. No matter how sure I am of something, there is always a small voice in the back of my head pushing me in the opposite direction, warning me that I might regret this. I know that’s not something I can ever avoid for sure. But I already have so many regrets. I’m afraid to trust myself. I’m afraid to be the one that chooses how my future will unfold. I don’t want to blame myself for making the wrong choice someday.

On the other hand, what if I am making the wrong choice by remaining where I am? There may be wonderful opportunities and people passing me by because I haven’t been brave enough to create space for them in my life. I hate feeling like such a coward, like a child, that needs someone else to make all the important decisions for them. I just want to ask for help, but I know that there is no one that can help me to live my own life. Some things we just have to do on our own.

Balance of the Mind

There is a fine line between
fascination and frustration
a challenge that grips and sparks
quietly slumbering curiosity
can burn us up just as quickly

The feverish fixation of one day
becomes a chore for the next
reluctant to make commitments
for fear of past experience that
all of these flimsy fancies will fly away

Incapable of great works that require
the steady, faithful persistence of years
this fickle heart flares up at the idea
of being tied to anything for so long
longing to be cradled, not caged by consistency

Tireless effort to balance between
a comfortable edge and overwhelm
the impossible choice of stagnation
or the violence of self-destruction
left hanging idly in the middle

Christmas is Over

Soft warm light suspended
in the brutal vacuum of snow
one final day of indulgence
before the empty months commence

January is the longest part of the year
a vicious nod to immaterial time
that contracts and expands as it pleases
to trap us in the cold violence of winter

The sunshine tide will slowly ascend
further up the shores of frozen evenings
to melt the aching numbness of 
vitamin D and dopamine withdrawal

But even the faithful repetition of 29 years
cannot convince me that the trauma of winter
will give way to green abundance once again
and melt this ice inside my veins

Waiting in this black and white is a reminder
that I still haven't found the patience
I was promised would come with age
just more pain piled on with yearly practice

Be Your Own Inspiration

As seasonal depression has slowly but surely sucked all of the life and motivation out of me in the last few months, I’ve been finding it harder and harder to write. An overwhelming sense of shame and mediocrity grip me as I attempt to do my daily poetry. I’m so distracted by the idea that I am not good enough, that my words are ignorant and hollow, that I can’t concentrate for long enough to create anything. Then this only reaffirms my crippling self-doubt, making it harder to come back to my laptop the next day.

Yesterday after finishing a poem that I wasn’t particularly proud of, I decided to read some of the older ones I had compiled for publishing this coming year. Even though I’ve done this in the past, I was still surprised at just how wonderful I felt these older poems were. I know I was partly moved because they reminded me of the times when I had written them, but I can’t deny that they are also excellent poems in their own right. I think anyone could enjoy them just as much as I have. The more I read, the more thick the wall of tears became against my eyelids, inevitably overflowing into hot streams down my cheeks. I wrote these. I had to keep reminding myself.

Today despite still not feeling particularly creative or inspired, the sense that I’m a failure and I’ve never written anything good nor will I ever write anything good is absent. I know that inspiration will find me again. I believe in and am proud of the things I have already created. I feel at peace inside this artistic dry spell.

Looking back at my old work was exactly what I needed. I’ve done this in the past not only with my poetry, but with my art as well. One day I was nearly in tears, wondering how I had ever believed I could draw or use my drawing tablet at all. Then I decided to pull up some of my old drawings. I was so happy looking at them. These are really good! I was delighted and surprised that I was so easily able to forget my own talent.

Sometimes the combination of mental illness, writer’s block, and exposure to so many other people’s amazing work online can leave us feeling inadequate. In these moments I try to remind myself of Lizzo’s wise words: “I am my inspiration.” We don’t need to be at the same level or have the same style of writing or drawing as other people. It can be hard to be an impartial judge of our own talent. That’s why it’s important to go back over our older work. So many times I’ve found that something I once hated or didn’t think much of has turned out to be one of my best creations when I look back. The poems I wrote as a teenager that I was embarrassed by seem simply beautiful to me now. I’ve even decided to publish them, and they’re available on Amazon if you’re interested.

I guess my point is, don’t trust your opinion of yourself or your ability when you are feeling low. The mind has a way of convincing us of things that aren’t true, especially when it comes to our perceptions of ourself. Just be patient and remind yourself through hard evidence. If your brain is telling you that you can’t write, go back and read what you’ve already written to prove it wrong. If it says you can’t draw, take the time to enjoy a personal art show of past works to silence that critical voice. Hell, sometimes this even works if I’m having a particularly bad body image day. I’ll look at somewhat recent photos I’ve taken of myself to remember that I can feel beautiful.

The only person you need to compare yourself to is your past self. Be your own inspiration. And most importantly, I want you to remember that every single thing you have created or will create is incredible and worthwhile, because it is a piece of your mind made manifest. When I look at something someone I love has drawn or written however silly it may seem to them, I love it. I love it because it came from them, and that’s all that matters. That’s what makes everything any one of us creates special and perfect. And lastly, let yourself rest sometimes. I promise your inspiration will come back soon enough.

The Path of Least Resistance

I'm tired in a way I can't put into words
the liquid soul I once housed with pride
has slowly dripped away, now I'm bone dry

Even the effort of asking myself what I want
is more than I can manage anymore
all I want is to want nothing

This spiritual fatigue leads me to what is easy
the path of least resistance is what I always pick
regardless of the potential for happiness

It just feels unlikely I'll ever uncover the strength
to lift my head back up to face the world as I did
and self-pity has become so sour on my tongue

I want to be an artist and add my own beauty to life
but my intentions get twisted and misconstrued
distracted by the imagined gaze of unknown eyes

So ashamed at the presumption of being worthy
tearing myself to shreds to demonstrate to the world
how aware I am that I'm not enough

How can you ask for help when you don't feel you deserve it?
how can you change direction when you're too tired
to keep walking?