Last year, my catheter stopped working. This resulted in a hospital visit I was not expecting. Two surgeries and a few days later, I returned home holding all this grief. I kept asking, “Why me? Why must this body know illness more than it knows love?”
I called my boyfriend (at the time) weeping into the phone. With barely enough words to craft a sentence, all I could grasp was air. There was silence and then a wail, a deep cry of wanting from within me for a life—any life—more worth living than this one. My boyfriend stayed on the phone while I broke down. He held space. He tried to help.
The call ended and the tears were wiped, but the feeling remained. So, I did what I know how to do when I am hurting. I wrote a poem.
a mantra for the chronically ill: in two parts
questions the day after a mental breakdown
have you ever been angry with God?
have you ever belonged to a body?
have you ever been a body you didn’t belong to?
have you ever been yours?
been a witness at your own funeral?
cleaned house and still missed a spot?
have you ever sat in a bed and denied morning?
was it in a hospital?
was it in a hotel of a body you do not know?
was it home?
have you ever missed a mother who is still alive?
are you still alive?
where is your father?
is he God?
where is the wound?
does it have a pulse?
what is lupus?
can it peel skin like a ripe orange?
is it a body in war with itself?
are you at war?
with your kidneys?
with the ugly you name before your brilliance?
with the men who did not stay?
what is strength?
does it keep an address?
when was your first kiss?
did it matter?
did it hurt?
the doctor with bad news?
the tv with bad news?
will it get better?
does better have a name?
is it a body?
is it yours?
will it arrive tomorrow?
can you hold on until then?
i am not my disease. i am not the hurt in my kidney, the healthy one draped in the small of my back. i am not the oversleeping and the inflammation. i am not the rash on my left arm. i am not the creek of stretch marks flooding up my thighs, my waist. i am not the fear of the hospital. i am not depression, the swallows of doubt come to take me home. i am not the lazy or the excuse. i am not the trauma. the reason i cross the street. the headphones i use to block the noise, the words drenched in vulgar and vulture. i am not the anxiety in my wardrobe, the gaze i do not ask for. i am gorgeous in my sickness. i am perfect in my illness. i am the fight for stability. i am surely a woman, both damaged and dancing, both in pain and in progress. a body all my own.
The intention of this poem was to remind me, my body, my spirit, that it has survived long before this moment. That survival is something I am an expert at. I have done it before, and I can do it again.
Poetry is a lifeline that returns to me when I need it most. When I was sexually abused, I wrote. When I was heartbroken, I wrote. When I was diagnosed with lupus, I wrote. Here I am again, writing to keep me alive. To keep me.
Friends, I hope you write through it—the bad days, the good news, the in-betweens… Write through it to get to the other side. I promise, there is another side. And as always, I love you. I see you. I am always proud of you.Leave a Comment
Thank you so much for sharing. Those of us dealing with chronic health conditions can relate. May the Creator of your understanding continue to give you strength, courage, peace, joy, and the wherewithal to continue to keep the faith as you journey this life.
Belineda Jones says
Missing your mom while she is still alive opened up a door for me. I felt this poem was very deep. I am praying for your healing.
Kitwanda Reeves says
Writing gives us a right to a rite of passage. Enduring to persevere until we overcome.
Speak our truth to ourselves in the pages as we journal the journey with a friend in a pen.
Michelle Wright says
I love this. Write through it. I suffer with chronic pain and fatigue from Fibromyalgia and numbers are on border lupus and if gets me down sometimes and I journal. I need to do it more often to write through it instead of wallowing in it. Thank you
Lesleigh Mausi says
So powerful! Thank you for reminding all of us to find solace in our process, and to write through it!
Brilliant. I immediately felt this. I saw the many hers and then I looked closer and saw me. Thank you for writing.
Camilla Louise Church Greene says
This poem was so necessary; so now; so healing and so intergenerational. I am in my 80 year old body and have scars where diseased parts were taken. I remember thinking I wanted to go to my grave with all my body parts. The maker had other thoughts. Thank you for making me feel in this time of intersecting dystopias.
What do you do when your feeling all alone?
Sandra Weatherspoon says
Good morning 🙏
To God be the Glory for you and your faith, your strength 💪 and the will to live and continue to move Forward, even though your challenges 🙏
Beautiful 😍 poem and sincere words of fear, pain 💔 disappointment.
May God Continue to bless and keep you 🙏
Anita C. says
Thank you “Good Morning.” Beautiful words to start my beautiful day. I woke up feeling sorry for myself – as usual. Then, I ingested your words – of strength, of comfort, of peace. Thank you for loving yourself enough to write it out and loving me enough to share. I am now moving into my next space….closer to the next space to the side of joy.
LaVita Spentz says
This was beautiful to read while i am recuperating from a surgery that i had not seen coming. I also write thru everything. Its a release for me, where I can ask the questions freely and only my mind can answer.
Whitney Weathers says
This was a beautiful reminder to “write through it”. There’s such freedom is putting pen to pain to help with the pain. Thank you for this.
Teresa Amos says
This poem is fantastic. Thank you for sharing. Your road to healing is already in motion. The use of two of the most powerful words in the universe is confirmed in your poem, “I Am.” I love how you embraced your illnesses-yet have not allowed them to get the best of you.
Tosha Lee says
This poem spoke to deeply to my spirit. Just know you are not alone. There’s so many others just like us. Continue your fight and your path because my sister. You are inspirational to those you don’t know or see. Keep faith in all things and Sun shine comes in the morning. Thank you so much!
Pamela Brogodn-Wynne says
Thank you for the interesting poem. There have been times in my life when I “wrote through it”, I definitely wrote through my bad marriage and wrote myself out of it. I even published my poetry memoirs. I tend to write only through the bad times yet never through the good. I wrote a eulogizing poem when my mother passed. This made me stop and think….I don not know if I will write but I do know that I will survive.
Theresa Neal says
Damn giiirrrlll…that was so inspirational. I see you and I hear you. I am you…and you are loved!!! Stay strong!!!
Denise H. says
Thank you for expressing my feelings so eloquently. I, too, have an autoimmune disease that makes me want out of my body most days. So I celebrate the days of no pain with dancing or a walk, which only lasts for a moment. But in those moments I find hope.I pray that you will have more good days than bad, and that those memories will carry you through. Stay strong!
Renewed to live life! Keep writing ✍🏾
Anna Wilkison says
May your words continue to flow freely. Bless you my Sister.
Miss P says
That was a beautiful truth. It caused me to tear up.
Cathy Lucas says
The way to overcome pain is to acknowledge it.
Marietta Ellis says
I felt this….I’m inspired.
Lillian Frazier says
Being I’ll. I can relate. Used to write but now I just wait
I love the way You Write Through It and encourage others to do the same. I wrote Through it too with losing my son. Writing is your gift. Keep writing in your waiting for your healing…
Valerie Gabe says
Wow, just wow. I going to read the poem often because it speaks to my heart.
Write through it and so you did! THANK YOU! Your courage is beautiful and your encouragement is appreciated! Praying for your continued healing and strength! Now I’m going to go and write through it too!
Thank you for your poem and sharing! A few years ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney disease. I think God and my Dr it has not progressed. I am fighting it every single day!!
Thank you for sharing. I was diagnosed with Lupus in 1985. It has been a journey, sometimes extremely difficult and limiting. By the grace of God, I survived brain cancer and other ailments. You too will survive! I am going through a lot now, not medical though. Thank you for the encouragement to write through it. May God, our healer, attend to you today.
Sharon Jenkins says
I am so appreciative of your insight into me. Pain is invasive as it inserts itself into every aspect of life. So many do not understand what you go through on a daily basis just to walk, turn, lay down to sleep or move your body from one space to the next. Thank you for verbalizing these feelings.
Colette Harrell says
Thank you. A family member was recently diagnosed with Lupus. I can see the changes in her body, but I now understand the changes in her emotions. I will be more patient and loving and when I think I’ve run out of energy I’ll ask God to provide me enough to share with her.
Louise Carrick King says
Thank you for the passion for survival. I can see your every change. My daughter has endured this unrelenting illness and all of its related ailments. But to God be the glory she like you have tapped into the source of your healing and are willing share answer, the faithful love of God. Bless your heart ❤️ 🙏🏾🙏🏾🌹