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StorkNet presents . . . Celia Straus'
Prayers On My Pillow

StorkNet.com > Columns > Celia Straus ~ Prayers on My Pillow

HEALING WORDS
Inspirations for Women on the Journey to Well Being
by Celia Straus

Celia recently shared a special gift with StorkNet readers, her cycle of prayer-poems she wrote during her personal experience with breast cancer from diagnosis through surgery, chemo and radiation. The poems are about healing, and express the emotions that any serious illness brings forth from a woman or teenage girl. We know you find Celia's journey helpful, inspirational, healing and full of love. Thank you, Celia, for sharing your personal moments and thoughts with us.

DISCOVERING MY VULNERABILITY

I've always been invincible
The one who's never tired
I soldier on through cough and cold
To show the world I won't get old.
I exercise, stand straight, sleep long.
My healthy diet keeps me strong.
I look quite good for middle age.
A feat that keeps my friends amazed.
I'm in control, I have no fears.
Until the day illness appears.

I've always been the cheerleader.
The one who's always smiling.
For me the glass is always full.
And tho my life may take its toll.
My children know I'm always there
With lots of energy to share.
I take the positive approach.
I am their optimism coach.
I always laugh. I seldom cry.
Except now that I am asking "why?"

I may not be the way I've been
But I'll survive this state I'm in.

This news fills me with utter terror.
Be calm, my love, for I'll be there.
I was so certain it could not be.
This too shall pass, just wait and see.
I've been so good. I am so strong.
It's not your fault. You did no wrong.
I prayed and prayed it wasn't so.
And so you did. And now you know.
Where do I turn? How do I cope?
Dig deep. Find strength, and will and hope.
My mind is blank. Confusion reigns.
Keep calm. You'll handle all this change.
I'm not prepared for these next days.
Oh yes you are. In many ways.
How do I tell the world of this?
With truth and grace. Your words won't miss.
What if all their medicines fail?
Don't think that way. You will prevail.
For you can find within yourself
The power to regain your health.

I've come undone
In disarray
The pieces of my life
Lie scattered
Where I left them
Yesterday.

I cannot think
Do not know how
Ideas that I once had
Forgotten
To reconstruct them
Is pointless now.

I've fragmented
No longer there
The self I held so dear
Has vanished
Quite suddenly
Into thin air.

I'll reconstruct
A new self then
The glue of life will hold
Me together
Stronger now
Whatever comes.

What happened to my energy?
There used to be so much in me.
But now I rise through force of will
Exhausted by a full night's sleep
Powered only by my mind
While my body lags behind.

Where is my vitality?
The glow that people used to see.
I pass the mirror and looking back
Is someone I just now have met
Determined to continue on
For my soul's light is never gone.

I travel halls in a wheel chair.
It's not as though I cannot walk.
But now I'm pushed from place to place.
It's just a rule.
It's no disgrace.
Except to me who cannot face
My vulnerability.

I'm clothed in a gown only halfway there.
A shapeless flimsy cotton frock.
Designed so we all look the same.
It's policy.
No secret game.
Except I cannot hide the shame
Of my vulnerability.

I'm treated and handled with utmost care.
As though my body is all I've got.
Prognosis comes from what they test.
It's protocol.
Just like the rest.
Except my heart can only guess
At my vulnerability.


This is a journey I did not intend to take.
I pray for strength as I absorb the blow.
I didn't know
I didn't know
The path is dark and getting darker still
I pray for light as I descend below.
I didn't know
I didn't know
The road is long; already I grow weak.
I pray for patience for now my going is slow.
I didn't know
I didn't know
They tell me battles must be fought before I stop.
I pray for trust that I may vanquish every foe.
I didn't know
I didn't know
I fear to travel all this way alone.
I pray for faith that God is with me as I go.
I didn't know
I didn't know.

Please help me find my Self
She left so long ago
When I was two, then four, then ten
She left me time and time again
Now I stand tattered, twisted, torn
So filled with anger, guilt and scorn
For who I am that I am filled
With holes where healing ought to be
I beg you, Self, come back to me.


LIVING WITH MY ILLNESS

I saw you release the rage inside
Replacing it with grace
I saw you transform our fear of death
Into a deeper faith
I watched you change how you looked at life
And somehow felt you knew
Divinity reflected back
In all surrounding you.

I saw you accept this chance to grow
Through sacrifice and pain
Stronger, wiser, more aware
Of what you can maintain
For you would not play the victim's role
Your courage makes you strong
Your illness is but one brief verse
In life's eternal song.

God's love runs through my veins
Into my cells it pours
Until I'm filled with light
And in my mind I see
Healing inside me

God's grace is on my skin
The warmth goes to the bone
Melting my icy fear
As I wait, stopped in time
To feel this touch Divine.

God's truth sings in my heart
Silences painful cries
Replacing doubt with faith
That I am whole and strong
I am where I belong.

These visits take their toll on me
Each doctor with a specialty
Reflects upon my history, an entertaining litany
Of symptoms, tests and lab results
Interpreted and printed out in language that without a doubt
Accurately describes my state
Chronicling date by date
How my illness has progressed
As X-rays illustrate the rest.

While I, the perfect student show
How much I've learned, how much I know
How hard I've worked, how far I'll go
To cooperate, to be on time
Turning myself upside down so I will always be around
For all the doctors on my team
And yet inside I cry, I scream
I want to run, to hide, to flee
For no one else can truly see
How these visits take their toll on me.

Along with all my deepest fears
One day I got the gift of tears
And I did not appreciate
Until it almost was too late
How all the feelings deep inside,
The pain, resentment I'd denied
Released when I received this gift
And found a path back from the cliff.

Despite my efforts to deny
One day I took the time to cry
And I could not imagine how
I'd kept it all inside til now
My pretense of being brave and strong
Of coping with good health gone wrong
Dissolved along with my soul's pain
I've courage now to cry again.

"How are you feeling today?"
"I'm fine, thank you, yes, I'm feeling okay"
No I'm not. I'm a mess. I hate myself here.
I become such a victim empowered by fear.
Look how I'm dressed.
In this ridiculous gown.
I just want to go home
Hide myself and lie down
.
Would the truth make you pause?
Would it give you cause
To write: "Patient's edgy,
resentful, not usually this way."

"Are you taking your meds according to plan?
With plenty of fluids?" "Oh yes, yes I am."
Have you any idea, could you possibly know
How the side effects you downplayed to me so
Fatigue and depression
Not to mention weight gain
I accept as I swallow
My pride with my pain.

Would I catch you off guard?
Would it make you think hard
As you write in my chart:
"Patient's doing what she can"

I am their foot soldier
Recruited against my will
To fight in antiseptic trenches
Against my own body
Naked; far from home.
Stay with me, God
I'm so alone.
I am their weapons bearer
Commanded day by day
To carry out their strategies
For killing parts of me
Unprotected; Chilled to the bone
Stay with me, God
I'm so alone.
I am their standard carrier
Urged on despite my wounds
To battle endlessly
Forgive me if I cry or moan
Stay with me, God
I'm so alone.

My heart opens day by day
Against my anguished will
Prepared for when I can't sustain
Composure during a time of pain
I numb myself, afraid of being
Aware.

My heart opens hour by hour
Unfolding love Divine
Determined to be brave and strong
No longer sure where I belong
I'm emptied out yet still I grow
Aware.

My heart opens beat by beat
So God can linger there
A gentle uninvited guest
Requiring only that I rest
Within His wondrous healing light
Aware.

FEAR

What if this illness conquers me?
It won't; be patient; wait and see.
I wake up nights afraid and crying.
Sleep well, my child, you are not dying.
I feel the pain becoming strong
Breathe out your pain; It won't last long
There is so much I want to do.
And so you shall; I'll help you to.
What have I done to bring this on?
Nothing, dear one, you did no wrong.
It seems I've lost control somehow.
Dig deeper for your courage now.
What do I say to those who care?
The words will come for I'll be there.
Some of my beliefs no longer hold
So take a risk. Be brave. Be bold.
They say the worst is yet to come.
But it will pass and you'll be done.
What is this lesson I must know?
That illness is a chance to grow.

Today I woke up frightened
Of what I have become
A traveler on a journey
That's only just begun.

Today I woke up lonely
Vulnerable and small
The strong woman I used to be
I simply can't recall.

Today I woke up desperate
To find a way to cope
For illness lurks inside of me
Erasing all my hope.

Today I woke much humbled
By how my life has gone
And yet I know God gives me
The strength to carry on.

Cancel the night
Reschedule sleep
For then I give up all control
Am forced to face what I dread most
Dark fears made real against my will
In twisted dreams so cruel and bleak
That I wake terrified and weak.
Oh, God, please hear the words I speak.

Turn back the dusk
Postpone sunset
For soon my poise will disappear
And I'll play out the starring role
In nightmares crafted by my terror
True anguish for my soul to see
Unleashed by my past history.
Oh, God, I beg, be here with me.

May I find the strength I need
To open once again this door
When every instinct urges me
To pull away; to turn; to flee
For now I understand my dreams
Of houses dark with fear and dread
Emanating waves of terror
Yet I could wake before going there

May I hold my faith intact
As I cross into no man's land
I know that I can overcome
My reluctance to have this done.
For within these walls my healing lies
I cannot deny this simple fact
So I will enter without fear
The choice is mine to enter here

Unseen problems
Risks unknown
What I fear most
Cannot be shown.
Brand new symptoms
Outcomes vague
What makes me weep
Can't be portrayed.
Nothing promised
Or guaranteed
No new facts
For me to read.
All that's certain
Is my faith
That I am healing
In this place.

My shadow selves are unprepared
For what's been handed me.
I can't maintain that I am sane
Or confident that I'll remain
On top of things, always on time.
When Overcompensating One
Has lost control and come undone.

My shadow selves can't hide behind
This stark reality.
It's hard to smile and talk a while
Of illness as just one more trial
To prove me strong, honest and pure
When Ugly Worm-like Shameful One
Now celebrates as though she's won.

My shadow selves seem confused by
This spontaneity.
My perfect life: mother and wife
Creative work with little strife
Is woefully unbalanced now
When Frightened, Fearful Weakened One
Must bow, and crouch and plead and run.

My shadow selves must see this as
An opportunity.
To get to know what I can't show
The childlike self that now must go
To where she's never been before
Along with shadow selves as One
Together we will overcome.

I'm jangled, tangled, jolted through
Confusion reigns supreme.
Distraction is my middle name
Nightmares are what I dream.

I'm fractured, captured, filled with doubt
Chaos rules every day.
Paralyzed by new found fears
That will not go away.

I'm breaking, aching, torn apart
Bereft without a trace
Of trust that I can handle
What I'm about to face.

I'm saying, praying, begging You
Reveal my strength to me
Reserves I have to draw on
My own Divinity.

I hunch against the pain
Greet each day in a crouch
To flee or fight as is my right
I scrabble fast
Or fold into a pouch.

I hide my face in shame
Held captive by my fear
I'm stopped in time; the secret's mine
Embarrassed to be here.

I huddle close to home
A child stumbling about
In tears I pray the same each day:
That God will find me out.

STRENGTH IN ACCEPTANCE

Just when I think I'm in control
Illness makes its presence felt.
And I am humbled by the pain
That courses through me once again.

Just when I believe I'm coping well
I catch a glimpse of how I look.
And I am humbled by the fear
That is reflected in my mirror.

Just when I feel strong and brave
Weakness reminds me it's not so
And I am humbled by the thought
That I must live with what I've got.

Just when my acceptance of the truth
Brings me to my knees in terror
And I am humbled by my plight,
Then Spirit speaks: "You'll be all right."


I'm now part of an industry
A system crafted just for me.
And tho I'd like to run away
Doctors tell me I must stay.
For months, for years I'm captured now
Forced to endure, not knowing how
I'll cope yet still maintain my place
In all my worlds with truth and grace.
Oh, help me to accept my plight
Find inner strength to win this fight.

I'm now trapped by a strategy
Devised to heal what's inside me.
My self rebels against demands
I put my life in strangers' hands.
Reordering my life, my time to meet
Treatment protocols that greet
My body as a battle ground.
In hopes that victory will be found
Oh help me, please, to rise above
This illness, cared for by Your love.

What happened to my journey?
I thought I knew the way.
For though it took me many years
I finally mapped out all my fears.
I trusted I could navigate
Through all the twists and turns of fate
Yet now experience proves me wrong
My previous destination's gone.

What happened to my voyage?
I thought it would be long.
For I was certain that I knew
How to live and yet stay true
To all I've learned about the key
To traveling with faith in me.
But now I go down paths unknown
And only God can guide me home.


May I unfold into myself
Accept where I am now.
There are no quick solutions here
No guru guides explaining how
To cope with what life's handed me.
For me there is no turning back
I must look deep inside to find
The answers that I lack...

May I unfold into myself
For who else can I trust?
To lead me down the path I'm on
I go forward because I must
My life will never be the same
I live to learn that fact each day
Yet in acceptance I find strength
A price I'll gladly pay.

What's left?
Not time.
Although I have the time to rest.
Wait centuries as hours go by
Then told we'll make another try
For test results, more data culled
From my disease as it goes on
Yet, for my body, time is gone.

What's left?
Not peace.
I thought I'd embrace solitude.
But stillness only fills up space
While my mind runs its endless race
To win the prize that I have lost:
Graceful acceptance of my fate
Instead of this chaotic state.

What's left?
Not strength.
Although I saw myself as strong
Made noble by disease and pain,
Instead, uncertainty's my gain.
Weakened, confused, and so wrung out
My courageous self has cut and run
Leaving behind the fearful one.

What's left?
Just faith.
Hope in a miracle to come.
That I can look within and find
That light in me which is Divine
I'll breathe upon this healing spark
Until it flames and I believe
That there is nothing left to leave.

I seek my peace in silences
I've never heard before
To live in tune with solitude
Resounding to my core
Every breath I take reminds me
I have courage to explore
Awareness of God's presence
Like a child I ask for more.

I look for faith in pauses
In between the steps I take
Stillness forces me to focus
On the promise I must make
To dwell within the moment
From the moment I awake
Trusting love gives me the strength I need
To bend but never break.

RELEASING ANGER AND SORROW

Why aren't I where I want to be?
What's going on inside of me
That every day begins the same
I hear my Soul call out my name
And yet let louder voices speak
With shrill demands until I'm weak
Hunched over, trying my best to earn
My good health back in hopes I'll learn
The way to make my joy return.

Why aren't I where I want to be?
I pray that if I look, I'll see
The radiant Self that waits so still
Crafted of Courage, Love and Will
Not torn apart, a wounded child
But healed now, grown wise and wild
More solid than I could conceive
God's guide as I find strength to leave
My past to go forth and achieve.

Why me?
Where did I go off track?
What crime did I carry out
That I am punished with this pain?
What did I do so wrong that went around
To come around again?

Why me?
How did I error?
What sin did I commit
That demands this sacrifice?
What choices did I make that haunt me now
For how they've changed my life?

Why me?
What lesson must I learn?
Where is the evidence
That proves I've done no wrong?
Am I not loved and love so am quite innocent?
Hear this: my guilt is gone.

I'm in denial
You're right. It's true
If living well despite my pain,
Is what denial means to you.

I'm in denial
Quite so. And then
So I can cope with what I have,
I'll turn my back on you again.

I'm in denial
How clear. No lie.
I'll handle this in my own way
I won't admit defeat. Not I.

Give me my chart, please, to write in.
What makes me unique, let me state.
Just listing my pulse, my pressure, my temp
Doesn't profile my inner landscape.

Allow me to alter my record.
May I explain myself as I change.
I would like to express my emotions, my stress
How familiar has turned into strange.

Permit me to add a few notes.
Addressing my anger and pain.
Your words don't do justice to what I feel now.
My soul is ignored once again

Adjust your perception for context.
There's a personal side that you miss.
If healing includes my spiritual side,
Aren't we delinquent on this?

I am more than a specimen jar
Pathology page.
My patient ID.
If I had my way
To diagnosis me,
I'd say:
"She has fear and confusion."

I am more than a medical chart.
Chemistries range
A history of pain.
If you would let me
Attempt to explain,
I'd say:
"She has fear and confusion"

I am more than a hospital bill.
Insurance report.
Research to do.
If you would just listen
To what I'm telling you,
I'd say:
"She has fear and confusion."

What did I do?
That I don't know
That made me hide
Instead of grow.
That made me search for places small
For places dark where I could crawl
Away from Self. For all I saw
Was me as thing or not at all.

What did I do?
That I can't find
What lurks beneath
My heart and mind?
That kept me secretive and torn
From the moment I was born
A Self who's lived a life alone
Searching for someplace to call home.

What did I do?
That I deny
That made my life
A constant lie.
What did I say that hurt me so?
Where was I left? where did I go?
Why is my rage buried so low,
That I am sickened by its blow.

PATIENCE IN HEALING

May I have patience while I'm waiting
May I build courage as I hear
May I accept the information
Simply as communication
Not a call for transformation
From optimism to utter fear.

May I stay balanced anticipating
May I be calm throughout the day
May I view this operation
As scientific application
To my body's situation
Where the energy's gone astray.

May I grow strong in my believing
May I bathe myself in light
May I focus my attention
On what they forgot to mention
My soul's joyous loud contention
That I'm going to win this fight.

I wait for news the whole day through
More lab reports from tests are due
Results to map the path I'll take
Compassionate voices on the phone
Telling me I'm not alone
Describing how their team approach
Makes me the player and them the coach.

I wait for calls to be returned
Saying what I've already learned
My journey's only just begun
For there are months ahead of me
Filled with their brand of therapy
And I am now a human file
Made personal once in a while.

I wait and in the waiting find
A calmness and a peace of mind
That grows within me as I go
For I will honor my new role
Paying with my body, life's new toll
Yet knowing to my very core
God is Who I'm waiting for.

Let me find a place to heal
Fill it with the morning light
Reflecting an eternal now
Where I can wait in harmony
With all this earth has given me
Earth and water, fire and air
My sacred space created there.

Let me find a place to heal
Give it texture, touch and sound
Creating fullness of the void
Where I can wait in wonderment
Sensing all that nature's sent
That integrates into the Whole
My sacred space; home to my soul.

Some days I feel completely healed
So strong that I could run a mile
Make a speech or even smile
At the prospect of cleaning house
Or shopping. Now there's a task
That takes its toll in energy
As well as how I feel about me.

So it is patience that I crave
When other days I wait in vain
For strength to overcome my pain
That I might organize myself
To think. To move. Forget the phone.
For I'm too weak to want to talk
About the self I've quite forgot.

Yes, it is patience I require
To cope with integrated states
Persistent illness now creates
Off-kilter, knocked askew, undone
Patience and courage it will take
To bend so much but never break.

I pray for trust that God wants me
Here
Now
Being
Silent
Waiting
Learning
Open
Patient
Uncertain
Unbalanced
Unhurried
Unfolding
Into Me.

Each breath connects me, corrects me, projects me
Each breath protects me with the healing light of God.
Each breath sustains me, maintains me, regains me.
Each breath proclaims me a little part of God.
Each breath restores me, implores me, adores me
Each breath transforms me into the wonderous love of God.

Let me find an inner Sabbath
Healing time for me alone
Let awareness of God's presence
Give my Self a loving home.
Let me put aside all outcomes
Leave procedures at the door
Let me know in Sabbath moments
All the peace I'm aching for.
Let me listen in my silence
For the still voice of my soul
Let my patience be rewarded
With the faith to make me whole.

INNER STRENGTH

Let me hear the healing words
I shall ignore the rest
Let me see the victory
I shall pass every test.
Let me feel the strength inside
I shall forget the pain.
Let me know the sweet revenge
I shall not lose again.
Let me taste the tears of joy
I shall not weep from fear
Let me believe Divinity
Protects me while I'm here.

I go within to gather strength
The place where tireless Will resides
My source of vibrant energy
Creating perfect harmony.

I go within to gather faith
The place where buoyant Hope inspires
My balance between truth and grace
Creating my own healing space.

I go within to gather light
The place where golden courage shines
My guide to trusting inner self
Creating a path back to health.

Let me find the value
Let me benefit
Let me choose a way
Of growing stronger
By being sick.

Let me build up courage
Let me open wide
Let me start the process
Of living deeper
From inside.

Let me face what's real
Let me understand
Let me learn the lesson
Of using everything
I am.

I fill myself with healing light
That burns from deep within
Kindled by the courage I
Must gather to begin
Each day confronted by my plight
Of dark despair and pain
I wake and pray I'll find a way
To courage once again.
For battles no one else can fight
Require that I see
A self so brave that she will save
The essence that is me.

I'm triaged
Prioritized for
My body's bare essentials
Unfamiliar places
Interior organs, systems, tissues
Demanding
Focus, breath and light.
Requiring
Clear concise prayers
That articulate
My continual progression
From fear to faith
And back again.

I'm simplified
Chiseled to
My life's newfound delights
Such common things
Cool water, wind, a loved one's touch
Providing
Stillness and relief
Offering
Distinct defined moments
That strengthen
My fierce determination
To find balance
And be well again.

COURAGE DURING MY OPERATION

I hold court in the pre op room
Where garbed in shapeless robes of green
Subjects pay homage to their queen
By now I know the order well
Beginning with the simple things
Like signing forms, removing rings
And though my court has just begun
Already I would cut and run.
Yet I maintain my regal pose
Dig deep deep down for strength to hear
Words meant to minimize my fear

I reign with grace in the pre op room
Politely greet my surgery team
While underneath I rage and scream
We act as though I still can choose
Yet we all know my reign soon ends.
And what comes next no one pretends
And though I hear each word they say
Inside I bow my head and pray
Their songs of praise fall on deaf ears
For I've held court before you see
And only I can honor me.

I will never leave you dear
Even if I'm weak with fear?
Even if you cry or moan
I'll be there. You're not alone.

I'll be with you through it all.
Will you answer when I call?
My voice you'll hear inside of you
Saying you'll do well. You'll make it through.

I'll protect you from all harm.
Will you be my lucky charm?
When you go to sleep, know this
I'm there just like your mother's kiss.

I'll protect your very core.
Then what's this operation for?
So that the world knows what we know
You'll heal inside. We'll make it so.

Today I travel halls on gurneys
Lie naked under florescent light
Today masked strangers float above me
Eyes sympathetic to my plight.

Today I've given up my body
To others who take full control
And I am left alone and helpless
Illness' victim is my role.

Today my mind screams out in panic
Behind my cheery brave facade
Today all natural instincts fail
For I can't run, or fight, or sob.

Today I signed away my freedom
I made the choice that brought me here.
Entrusting them to find the illness
While I am left to face my fear.

And so I ask myself for courage
To live this day with truth and grace
To dignify myself by knowing
I am made stronger by my faith.

Let me flee where I am now
Choose to go another place
Leave my body where it lies
Vulnerable to strangers' eyes.

Let me forget what I feel now
Replace my fear with joyous thoughts
Separate from all the pain
The needle taped into my vein.

Let me see past this upwards view
Shift focus to a garden fair
Close my eyes to ceiling white
Stainless steel and frosted light.

Let me believe my life beyond
This moment lies ahead for me
Go inward on a search for peace
And find inside my sweet release.

There's one seductive moment when
I'm suddenly quite calm again.
So counting backwards seems to be
A logical activity
A gentle, soothing pleasant place
To rest before I am defaced.
And all they've done before this time
To take away what I called mine
So that it's just a body spread
And strapped onto this gurney bed
I grudgingly forgive, forget
In fact there's nothing I regret.
No matter how much pain and fear
I've overcome to get me here,
Or that in just an hour or two
They'll greet me as old friends can do
For I can only feel relief
In this brief moment I'm at peace.

In the recovery room
As silence calls
I fill myself
Pour golden light
Then, attending
To the flame
I move behind the pain.

In the recovery room
As stillness falls
Then I connect
To Universal
Energy
I'm healing here
I move beyond the fear.

In the recovery room
As God recalls
I breathe
In Sabbath time
Effortlessly
Be still my soul
I move to become whole.

KEEPING MY DIGNITY

You mustn't take my dignity
No matter what you do to me
I may be weak, alone, at risk
Unable to fend for myself
Left by disease at your doorstep
But this I ask:
Give me respect.

You mustn't take my dignity
Whatever you may think or see
A body broken, bent by age
Cells run amok, damaging still
I've come for help, trusting in you
But don't forget
Give me my due.

You mustn't take my dignity
Please don't ignore this heartfelt plea
Look past my rage, my cries of pain
My shame at having lost control
I have no other choice, you see
But honor this
Truth lives in me.

Don't just simply glance at me
See more than one case history
For I am deeper than you know
My inner self can take this blow.

Be prepared to listen well
And learn from what I have to tell
For though I'm ill, I'm also wise
Hear truth when you look in my eyes.

Respect us both when you explain
With words forecasting fear and pain
Understand my anguished stare
Is comprehension, not despair.

Dignify why I have come
A patient, yes, but still someone
Who is prepared to help you fight
As equals armed with Love's great light.

No matter what you do or say
Our visits always go this way:
At first you greet me with a smile
Then ask me how my day has gone,
A moment later you pull back
Our warm friendship becomes abstract.

I believe you feel all you can.
And know this now, I understand.
Reluctant partners in a dance,
We sway to one more healing tune
Movements made to regimen's beat
For we have illnesses to treat.

It's not your place to give me hope.
It's not your job to help me cope.
I visit you because I must
I cannot look to you for faith
And yet each time I'm still surprised
By the compassion in your eyes.

Excuse me, but depression
Is really unacceptable.
Fatigue is not correctable
By taking pills on top of pills
To counteract the many ills
All stemming from the medicine
That's supposed to make me well again.

Excuse me, but my nausea
Is not a given thing.
I'm not accommodating
For stress, night sweats, fever or rash
My life is not a penciled dash
Notation in a doctor's hand
Charting what side effects I'll stand

Excuse me, did you just dismiss
A gain or loss of twenty pounds
You may not like the way this sounds
But I am one who's brave and bold
And beautiful, not weak or old.
I'll heal myself in my own way
With God to guide me day by day.

Let me unfold my dignity
A richly layered tapestry, woven deep inside of me
Thick warp composed of fear and pain
Dark strings of anger, grief and shame
In places tangled by self blame
Pulled into place by force of will
Extending knots of time to kill.
Patterning how I've been ill
The weft is crafted from my prayers
So fine a strand, it often tears
Yet strong enough so that it bears
Sewn faith far lighter in design
Threads barely seen, this hope of mine
A shimmering of love Divine.

What I hate most from you is your swift judgement
Which I am long past trying to second guess
I've recreated childhood with a parent
Who always made me feel second best

You watch me craft thick layers of protection
My outer layer always poised to please
While inside I'm consumed with roiling anger
Locked fast for I have thrown away the keys.

What I hate most about my role is how I treat you.
With deference as though I live for your embrace
When often as I smile throughout my visit.
I'd like to reach across and slap your face.

God, help me find a way out of this pattern
I want to reach and find your helping hand
Mutual respect is there. I just can't find it
I need to know you'll see me as I am.

CELEBRATION

Let me be at peace again
Let my body heal.
Let me wake up filled with joy
Let my joy be real.

May I walk with confidence
That I'm illness-free
May I know within my heart
That I'll always be.

Let me feel free again
To make my dreams come true
Let me replace fear with faith
I live because of You.

I pray illness away from me.
What I envision I will be.
Each cell filled with terror and dread
Be gone from me. Be gone. Be dead.

I pray sickness disappears
And takes with it my deepest fears.
No longer victim of that voice
Persuading me I have no choice,

I pray darkness into light.
Already I have won this fight.
Once weak and frail, now I am strong
With work to do. I shall go on.

I pray victory deep inside.
Where death once lurked, now life resides.
Love is once more mine to give
I'm free. I'm well. I'm going to live.


Let me celebrate my Self.
She never left my side.
Through all the years of pain and doubt
Of being so sick and going without
She shone a steadfast inner light.
Though I was lost
She still burned bright.

Let me celebrate my Self
On view for all to see.
As I grow strong and learn to live
With courage, taking, as I give
To others, joy in what I do
She smiles and then,
My joys renew.

Let me celebrate my Self
God's presence I now know.
And as I journey down this path
Only one question I would ask:
Are Love and Self one and the same?
I pray they are
For Love's God's name.

I bow to you, Survivor
Woman Warrior
Great Self-Healer
I'm humbled by your confidence
In what none but you could see.

I honor you, Survivor
Gentle Goddess
Wise Earth Mother
I'm grateful for your sustenance
When there was only me.

I reach to you, Survivor
Guiding Spirit
Light-filled Lover
I'm asking for your providence
For now where I shall be.

I am humbled by your kindness
I am grateful for your care
When I reject your gift of being
I knew you'll still be there.

I am honored by your silence
I am thankful for your calm
When striking back in furious pain
You never judge me wrong.

I celebrate your friendship
I bow to your strong faith
When I can't find the love to heal
Your love fills me with grace.

TAKING JOY IN THE MOMENT

May joy become a part of me
Each moment of tranquility
Crafted by my inner self
Who takes the sacred from the shelf
And scatters it into the air
So every breath becomes a prayer
Transforming all I see or hear
Into my proof that Love is near.

May joy become a part of me
My body filled with divinity
Poured by my determined soul
To heal it so I'll be whole
Streaming light goes everywhere
'Til every cell becomes a prayer
Creating beauty out of strife
Bringing balance to my life.

Sing out
Wherever I will be
For I am the Lord
And the Lord is me
Sing out
Wherever I will be
For I am the Lord
And the Lord is me.
Sing out
Wherever I will be
For I am the Lord
And the Lord is me.
Sing Out
Wherever I will be
For I am the Lord
And the Lord is me.
Sing out
Wherever I will be
For I am the Lord
And the Lord is me
Sing out
Wherever I will be
For I am the Lord
And the Lord is me
Sing out
Wherever I will be
For I am the Lord
And the Lord is me.

My world's become much smaller now
And yet I've learned to see
The joy in every moment lived
With love inside of me.

The trips I make are shorter now
And yet each step reveals
A path I've not been on before
To where my spirit heals.

My songs are sung much softer now
And yet each word rings true
Expressions of a new found peace
As I unfold to You.

It's not the path I walk,
It's the walking.
It's not how fast I heal,
It's the healing.
It's not what I've become,
It's becoming.
It's not what I once did,
It's the doing.
It's not how I have changed,
It's the changing.
It's not the pain I bear
It's the bearing.
It's not the life I lived,
It's the living.

I saw a daffodil today
For I was looking down
Unable to sense where I'd step
Untrusting of the ground.
Angry at being so weakened,
Impatient of my stride,
Its beauty took my breath away
And I forgot my pride.

I saw a budding leaf today
For I had stopped to rest
Suddenly tired and out of sorts
Feeling I'd failed my test.
Disgusted at my lack of strength
Uncertain what to do
Its new life gave me hope again
That I could start anew.

For months I could not be here now.
I simply would not be.
So self absorbed had I become;
So centered around me.
So dominated by my health,
Diminished by my fear,
That I would go to any lengths
Before I would be here.

For months I could not take a breath.
The air seemed stale and still
So tightly bound had I become;
Inhaling made me ill.
So trapped by useless worry
Consumed by futile doubt
I gasped and wheezed inside myself
Instead of breathing out.

For months I could not give my love.
My pain turned me to stone.
I built a wall for my disease
So we could be alone.
Yet out of pain grows wisdom
From wisdom can come grace.
So this spring day I offer love
With sunlight on my face.

There is time for me
In the stillness of this moment.
There is time for me
In the golden light of sunset.
There is time for me
In the pause between my breathing.
There is time for me.
In the gentle evening breezes.
There is time for me
In the center of this flower.
There is time for me
In the trickling of water.
There is time for me
In the fragrance of the garden
There is time for me
In the still small voice of God.

REACHING OUT FOR HELP

I cannot do this by myself.
There's just too much to bare
I've never asked for help before
But will You please be there?

I cannot do this by myself.
No longer brave am I
I've never wept with fear before
So will You hear my cry?

I cannot do this by myself.
Once whole, I've come apart
I've never knelt in prayer before
Yet will You search my heart?

I cannot do this by myself.
My perfect life is gone.
I've never given in before
Oh, will You make me strong?

I cannot do this by myself
I'm like a child again
I've never needed You before
Now will You be my friend?

Today you turned away my soul
Dismissed my need to feel.
You blew off all my fears with smiles
Drug data combed from research trials
I left confused, ashamed and lost
As though my bridge had not been crossed
Alone I'd have to heal.

Today you hurried past my heart
So driven to carry on.
You scheduled my appearance there
But in your eyes you didn't care.
We both knew it was all pretense
Your asking if your words made sense
For I took far too long.

Today you brushed aside my pain
As something not quite true
By treating it subjectively
My symptoms only felt by me,
You made me feel weak and old
When all I asked was to be told
That I could trust in you.


A female patient is presenting today
Know her for more than these records can say
Listen to how she downplays her fear
Because she's embarrassed at ending up here.

A female patient is presenting today
Resentful and angry she's gotten this way
Understand how ashamed she must be
To be so unprepared for this indignity.

A female patient is presenting today
Look past the photographs of her x-ray
See through her flesh, her skin and her bone
Into her heart where she trembles alone.

A female patient is presenting today
Afraid to accept the price she must pay
Give her respect she needs to get through
For the moment there's no one to help her but you.

Let me ask you
For what I need.
If I'm afraid
Let me explain.
Let me tell you
If I'm in pain.

I need to know
You'll stick around
Month after month
You'll still be there
Let me show you
I know you care.

For I've been hurt
By those who find
I'm still the same
I can't pretend
I'm sick or well
To be your friend.

I'm not good at asking for favors.
I'm not comfortable leaning on you.
I don't know words to describe what I'm feeling
I can't articulate what I'm going through.

I tend to cringe from admissions of weakness.
I'm a novice at handling pain
I wish I had more experience being helpless
I keep to myself as a way to stay sane.

So be patient and give me the space that I ask for
Understand my dilemma in trying to express
Give me some time and I'll tell you my story
Please listen in silence and I'll do the rest.

I love you more than love itself.
I love you more again.
And if I can't keep quiet now
It just because I'm learning how
To share with you my pain.

I love you more than words can say.
I love you more than breath.
And if I cannot hide my tears
It's just because I have such fears
About life - not my death.

I love you more than this whole earth.
I love you more each day.
And if I keep on asking why
It's just because I'll always try
To show you how I'll stay.

I do not share my feelings much.
Support groups aren't for me.
I tend to bottle up inside,
And tho I'm told it's wrong,
I'm not above denying I'm ill
For I will prove I'm strong.

I do not show emotions.
When I cry, it's silently.
I'm not the touchy feely sort
And tho inside my fear runs wild
I show the world a stolid face
To hide my frightened child.

I do not tell my stories.
My answers are quite terse.
This does not mean I'm not in pain
Or long to open up my heart
I simply cannot find the way
Or find the words to start.

SURVIVING DARK DAYS

When I awake so filled with dread
My body stunned by nightmare blows
When I am stopped at break of day
Unable to scream out or pray
How do I cope? What do I say?

When I greet sunlight with a cry
Awareness stabbing at my soul
When words cannot express my pain
Knowing I cannot regain
What was, how do I stay sane?

When my eyes open filled with tears
For once again I face the truth
Of one more day in deep despair
No longer finding that I care
Will I find You? Will You be there?

May I learn from my condition
How to give what I most seek
May I light the way for others
In our darkness when we meet
May I wipe with loving kindness
The fevered brow, the tear-stained cheek
May my pain build up my courage
So I'm strong for one who's weak.

May I take the fear I feel
And transform it into grace
May I offer deep compassion
For whomever takes my space
May my faith heal all resentment
Leaving sheer joy in its place
May I share new love for living
With all who see my face.

Sometimes I simply close my mind
To what is lurking there,
Resentment, shame, self-pity, too
Mixed in with dark despair.

Sometimes I numb myself against
The anguish in my heart
My guilt at not being strong enough
The fear I'll come apart.

Sometimes I purposely ignore
How angry I must sound
Furious at the world at large
And how it's let me down.

Sometimes I shut all feelings out
So vulnerable am I
Unable to risk faith or joy
Emotions drained and dry.

Sometimes these times extend until
The pain of every thought
Is far more difficult to bear
Than what my illness brought.

Sometimes time stops; the darkness lifts
Love reaches to my soul.
And for those moments I release
Until I feel whole.

I seek a place so overgrown and hidden
That I may never find my way back there
And You're the only person who can show me
But I can't ask for directions we don't share.

My search for answers starts at my beginning
I am Your child, a blessed gift from You
Yet I can't bare to ask a single question
About the pain this illness has put me through.

I need to break apart this wall of silence
That I've built day by day to keep me sane
Although I fear, once sensed, the place I look for
Is so obscured it can't be found again.

Please, God help me believe Your love is still the beacon
It was when I was far too young to know
The darkness of a life lived without trusting
That You will lead me to the place that I shall go.

How do I get through a day
That begins this way:
My bed soaked from sweat
Hot flashes? or my nightmare image
To forget.
Soft black worms eat
Beginning with my feet.

How do I make nice with them
Be polite and smile when:
My mind is racing wild
Trying to calm the worst fears of
My inner child
I'm going to die
I'm unsure why.

How do I stay capable and whole
Perform this newest role:
The mother wife who's ill
But handles life because she must
Efficient still
My soul's the key
She sustains me.

MY BODY

I've lost my sensuality
Misplaced it while they treated me.
There's nothing that can take its place
I'm neutered, numbed. I'm in disgrace
For losing such a valued part
Of what I am. It breaks my heart
For I could dance and sing all night
When I felt sensual, it felt right.

I've lost my sensuality
Forgot it on my healing spree
Perhaps it's in the dressing room
Where mirrors watch as I assume
The inmate's role in shapeless garb
Designed so self respect is hard
To keep when each day I am seen
As flesh on someone's X-ray screen.

I've lost my sensuality
I wonder if I'll ever see
Myself as beautiful again
Or feel alive as I did when
I made love naked with a man
Who stroked my body with his hand
Who made me feel alive and free
And filled with sensuality.

Only God may touch me now
So fragile I've become
My body diagramed and viewed
Rearranged, replaced then glued
Repaired by strangers who cannot see
Their work as my indignity.
I'm mended
But I'll come apart.
The flesh is fixed
But not my heart.

Only God may see me now
I hide myself so well
Stitches turn to scars and fade
For they cleaned up the mess I made
The burns and bruises disappear
Along with almost all the fear
I'm healing
Parts into the whole
Presentable
But not my soul.


My body is a healing robe
A garment woven through
With liquid light from deep within
Divinity come true.

My body is a healing robe
Worn thin with pain and fear
Now patched with clear commitment
To seek the simple here.

My body is a healing robe
Wrapped around my soul
Tied by full acceptance
Of what I cannot know.

My body is a healing robe
Material sewn with faith
Threads of naked confidence
In God's own loving grace.


Let me be attentive to the ache
May it teach me
May it reach me
So I move with my Self
At the bend, not the break

Let me be attentive to the pain
May it guide me
May it tide me
So I float with my Self
Far behind where it came.

Let me be attentive to the fear
May it leave me
May it release me
So I rest in my Self
With my Lord who is here.

Raggedy doll
Machine washed
Once too often
Parts are missing
Nothing crucial
Just dress me up again
With matching hat

Raggedy doll
Lopsided, lumpy
Still sodden
My stuffing's swollen
Around my knees
And left elbow
I'm partially fat.

Raggedy doll
My features blurred
And faded
Too many cycles
Made me limp
But hear me well
I'm more than that.

OPENING UP TO LOVED ONES

I can't bare your sympathy
I'm no poster child for prayer.
I beg you, please don't pity me
It's enough for you to care.

I don't need your good advice
I've heard it all, and then some more.
Before you comment, please think twice.
Just walk with me along this shore.

I won't feel your warm embrace
I've given up my life's context
So put yourself into my place
And wait with me for what comes next.

When you ask me how I feel
There are no words that could reveal
The fear, anger, confusion, dread
Emotions tangled in a web
So intricately woven tight
No answers come without a fight
Between the grownup who would lie
And my child Self who wants to cry.
My mind shuts down. I cannot speak.
Should I be strong or show I'm weak?
Shall I pretend I'm unconcerned?
Or share what I have come to learn
About how living day to day
Makes it difficult to say
Anything that's always true
Except the love I feel for you.

Don't make me open up to you
Because of what you'll put me through.
I cannot bear to hear you cry.
Nor can I handle when you lie.
There is no point in sharing pain
When sharing brings it on again.
There must be someplace we can go
Some subject we both love and know
Where conversation's not a fight
But leads us both into the light
That shines on what we had before
I went to battle in the war.
I had to leave you out, you see
To cope with what's inside of me
So let me break down walls of fear
For inside me, our joy is near.

How do I feel?
Should I explain?
What I went through today?
Not the physical pain,
But the way I was treated
Made me weak and ashamed.

How am I doing?
Can I express?
How I felt when I looked
At the way I was dressed?
As an inmate, a victim
Costumed as oppressed.

Am I hanging in there?
Do I dare say?
When I think of the choices
I make every day
Determined to dignify
Healing my way.

May I find love each time I search our friendship
For proof its value isn't worth my time
May I find joy when I approach her every visit
As though it were a mountain I must climb.

May I look forward to the deepening trust between us
Far stronger than the trust I have in me
And not dismiss her sincere depth of feeling
So certain of my illness she can't see.

May I have faith our intimacy changes
Yet builds, through change, connections that will stay
So when, each time she's near, I try to leave her,
The God we share won't let me turn away.

When you're hurting, I won't leave you
When you need me, I will stay
When you tell me love's not worth it,
I will love you anyway.

When you come to me in sorrow
Certain there's no way you'll heal
I will bind your wounds with kisses
Soothe your fears with faith that's real.

And though we've only started
To discover what we share
I pray that you'll be open
To all the love that's there.

I wall you off with silence
Push you away with smiles
That tell you you're ridiculous
Wrong, a sham, without a clue.
You cannot know what I'm going through.

I make you feel invisible
Your presence just a stumbling block
Each word you speak falls heavily
Painful reminders I must hear
That for a moment, you are near.

And yet, I am a part of you
'Til now you meant the world to me
And underneath my cold disdain
There lives a Soul that will relearn
The love required for my return.

COMING TO TERMS

What was the point?
What did I learn?
That after waging such a fight
My illness lingers with me still
And I'm bereft of faith or will?

The point is life.
You learned to bend.
You've grown much stronger than you know
Believe in this: your mission's done
And best of all, you will have won.

What was the prize?
If I have won
A hollow victory one might say
For though I struggled valiantly
Good health in life is gone for me.

The prize is grace
Why can't you see?
That every moment is a chance
To celebrate what must come true
Salvation in God's plan for you.

At one time I demanded things.
"Take away my pain", I cried
And yet as time went on I found
That suffering drew me apart
From worldly things and filled my heart
With so much love that I became
At peace and I gave up my pain.

At one time I resented life.
"It's just not fair," I raged to all
And yet each day my fight to win
The battle for my peace of mind
Offered ways for me to find
Victories in a sacred place
Transforming anger into faith

At one time I could not sit still
"Give me patience," I would say
And yet as life continued on
Waiting became a part of me
So gradually I learned to see
That stillness opened up my soul
Acceptance finally made me whole.

Allow me to explain
I'll never be the same.
This journey has been long
But it has made me strong.
The pain that I've endured
Has guaranteed I'm cured
Of thinking life's unfair
For keeping back my share.
My problems are not solved.
My grief is unresolved.
Self knowledge I've received.
Acceptance I've achieved.

Time is catching up to me.
Impatient to complete the course
Regretful that it took so long
To get this far; to reach this bar.
Embarrassed to have lingered so
I know. I know.

Time is triple-timing me.
It breaks all rules to get ahead
How foolish to think that I could cheat
And win this game, yet who's to blame?
It's far too late to fight the foe
I know.
I know.

Time is closing in on me.
Suddenly rushed and on deadline
Denying it ever made me wait
For months on end; now time's my friend
Together, hand-in-hand we'll go.
I know.
I know.



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