Right now it hurts too much to cry.
I can't deal with my pain.
Survival is my current goal,
Forget "No pain, no gain."
But someday when I'm stronger
And life is safer, too,
I'll look inside my hurting heart
As best as I can do.
And then the special child
That lives inside of me
Will face the pain, injustice,
And the tears can be set free.
I'll cry for the special boy
Whose childhood was lost
To the effort to survive,
I'll cry for what it cost.
I'll cry for others who like me
Craved love instead of strife.
Yes, in time, someday I'll cry,
For tears belong to life.
Copyright © 1993 by Al Johnson
Just as a real spa provides cleansing and refreshing, we want the Recovery Poetry Spa to be a place of cleansing, refreshing, and continued healing for those who have experienced abuse or addictions or the emotional pain of other issues such as depression, shame, guilt, etc. and are somewhere on the journey of recovery.
I am an adult survivor of childhood physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. The beatings were bad enough. I think, however, that the verbal and emotional abuse and public ridicule which I experienced left an even deeper scar upon me. I now realize that I will always be on the road to recovery the rest of my life. I still have great fear at times, fearing that someone will damage me as I was damaged by my raging father, but I have begun to trust people more. I tried to cope with the feelings of worthlessness that came from the abuse by burying myself in my work (my addiction, workaholism), depriving my wife and children of the time and love that they deserved from their husband and father. One of my job supervisors had to intervene and require that I get therapy needed to confront the ghosts of the past and my own unhealthy behavior patterns which once served me pretty well to cope with the terror of the abuse. That confrontation and the subsequent therapy were very difficult for me, but the result has been that our marriage and family life has improved and I am experiencing increasing joy and freedom in life that I didn't know could be mine.
Writing is therapeutic
I have found that writing poetry about my memories, feelings, and recovery journey has been therapeutic.
I want to share my recovery poetry with you at this Recovery Poetry Spa. And I invite those of you who have experienced abuse or addictions of any kind and wish to write about it and/or your recovery journey in poetry to submit your poems to be posted at this Web spa.
Healing and hope
We want this Web site to be a place of continued healing and hope. And hope is in short supply when one is dealing with abuse or paralyzing addictions. Let us make this poetry spa a place for cleansing, for renewal, for fellowship, for hope, for joy (without covering up or denying the pain, anger, or despair).
For several years I have wanted to put my own recovery poetry in a chapbook which could be opened from either the front or back (and, actually, it would be hard to tell which was the front or back). From one side the collection would be titled Writing the Wrongs, telling the truth about what happened. From the other end of the book, the collection would be titled Righting the Wrongs. My poetry book is now available (Sept. 7, 2004); click on the button following:
I would also like to use those titles here at the Recovery Poetry Spa, as two categories into which submitted poems might fit. It may also be that we will have to develop other categories for posting poems after awhile, as well. But, for now, we will start with these two.
Let's break the rules now!
It is frequently pointed out that the three rules for dysfunctional families are:
1. Don't feel!
2. Don't trust!
3. Don't speak!
At this Web site we want to break all three rules. We want to feel again, even though the feelings will be painful. We don't want to walk through life numb to our feelings as we may have tried to numb out our feelings when we were being abused--what else could we have done?! We want to begin to trust again, even though this is difficult. And we want to speak. We need to speak. We need to tell our stories. We need to find out, as I have, when it has been possible to speak (sometimes even in certain protected public situations), that others have similar stories. It has meant a lot to me when individuals have come up to me after I have spoken at a safe meeting, and, often with tears in their eyes, they have told me that their experience was the same. Beginning to experience the freedom to talk about the hellish past is healing for us and freeing for those who are listening.
Let us listen with dignity and respect. And let us take the steps, however feeble, to TALK. The special way we can talk at this Web site is through poems about our experience.
(Feel free to omit your name and/or email address if you wish
to remain anonymous, but I would appreciate your comments.)