The colors are all wrong in your head,
Neons and darks and strange threads,
no single feeling allowed to simply be,
an utter lack of purity,
sin and sanctity, beauty and brutality,
fear and love and indifference
all swirl in some angry wind,
teasing you, not quite definable, not quite
nameable, less than real,
but oppressive nonetheless,
too many feelings for your six-year-old heart
with its stitches and scotch taped scars.
But still, you write.
Each morning you write.
Sometimes, it is the only breath you have,
the only way to make sense of everything
that eluded you so long,
matching vocabulary to the foreign language
of you heart.
About this poem.
When I put myself into therapy nearly twelve years ago, one of the things my therapist told me was that I had lost the ability to define my feelings as I tried to be too many things for too many people. My emotional vocabulary was that of a six-year-old.
So part of my work was to begin journaling again. (I had journaled for many years, but like so much in my life, it had died away), and in that journaling, take time each morning to review the feelings of the day before.
At first, the feelings I set down were basic. A child’s words. A curt shopping list. But as time went on, I regained my full range of vocabulary, and with it, my feelings actually became richer, layered, multi-faceted. Like they should be.
I keep the practice to this day. Having lost fluency once, I never want to lose it again.
PS – the picture is from an installation the Taubman Museum in Roanoke, Virgina by Amanda McCavour: Neon Clouds and Ice Crystals.