poetry

So Many Beautiful Words. {poetry}

 

A counselor recently asked my son what his anxiety looks like. “Black with horns,” he said.

I started to explain to him that she meant how does his anxiety manifest itself, how does it show up in his life. But then I realized that his description was from the gut and right on.

This made me think about what my anxiety looks like.

My anxiety mimics my greatest joy: words.
Constant. Cutting. Dark. Causing me to doubt. Causing my stomach to turn. Causing me to want to leave, to sleep, anything to cut them off.

My friends and I call anxiety and depression the “deep, dark place.” It’s where I swim in the words, circled by the “whys,” the “if-onlys,” and the “what-ifs.” I’ve been here many times. And I know I’ll be back again.

It isn’t easy to get out of here. But I do know how. By now I have some tools. Self-care. Dogs. Prayer. Sunshine. Exercise. Family. Friends.

Those tools tip off the “maybes.”
The light. The hope.
And the “maybes” encourage the “what-nows.”
A quieting. A deep breath.

A way out of the deep, dark place.

Out where I can see beauty and possibilities.
And my greatest joys.

***

They swim laps around my brain.
Incessant. Powerful. Irrational.
Too fast, too much.

Some stab, trying to leave scars.
Cruel and condemning, they curl up in my consciousness.
Questioning, assuming, keeping my empty stomach company.

The whys are particularly vicious.
Tenacious. Insistent. Futile. Exhausting.
A spoiled child throwing a tantrum,
demanding an answer that doesn’t exist.
Piranhas feasting on regret and betrayal.

The if-onlys prefer taunting.
The seductive bully.
Dragging me through their desert of despair
under the pretense of possibility.
Mocking expectancy while ridiculing reality.

It is so dark inside my head. I can’t see.
I pretend, I speak, I look, I live, always wrestling those words.
One foot on their throat, but begging for their mercy.

The what-ifs are a motley crew of pirates and poets,
clumsily encouraging vengeance and advocating escape,
but rallying for truth and defying defeat.
Lost, but searching.
Brilliant, but bruised.

The maybes tiptoe in, timid, speculative.
Wondering, doubting, but trying.
A dusty ray of light peeking under the closed door.
Humble. Hopeful. Maybe.

The what-nows are next.
The sunrise.
Gentle and devoted and steady.
Reminders. Lessons.
They slow things down.
They soothe and I breathe.
It’s quiet.
And I listen

Until I can see again.

Naked trees standing proud against coral skies,
and grey sidewalks ripe with cracks.
Green eyes and feisty ocean waves.
Champagne swigs and wide-open windows.
Postcards from Paris and freckles of paint.
The reliable creak of a front porch swing and miles to go.

I see. And I know.
So many beautiful words.

***

Suzy Morgan is currently a high school English teacher in rural Nebraska. She plans to finally graduate from high school in 2022 and get busy doing all the things she didn’t realize she could do the first time around, including creating, writing, and moving to New York City. Suzy has three children and one devoted canine companion, a border collie mix named Myla. Her favorite pastimes include manifesting, marveling, wondering, and wandering.

***

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