Lean into it, she says

This poem was inspired by Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” which I talk more about here. In the book she talks about “leaning in” to difficult feelings rather than pushing them away or pulling away from them. Easier said than done, but this notion of leaning into difficult feelings in an almost physical or embodied way (in much the same way as one might lean into a strong wind in order to find a stable centre of gravity) resonates really powerfully with me. During some difficult times over the last few months this “leaning in” has helped me to stabilise myself in the midst of strong feelings. When I wrote this poem the wind felt too strong to resist, I was being buffeted all over the place and the only thing I could do was to write down some words to try to connect with the part of me which was feeling so much pain.

Lean into it, she says.
This sense of free fall,
Self doubt, overwhelm,
Uncertainty.
My body is telling me
One thing, meanwhile
My head is somewhere else,
Trying to find
A way to rationally explain
All this pain.

Lean into it, she says.
Pass me the wine,
Roll me a cigarette,
Open me an incognito
Browser window.
Anything to distract me
From what I’m feeling.
What am I feeling?
Alone.
Ashamed.

Deep shame, bubbling
Up from old wounds,
Scar tissue grown over,
Underneath something
Festers.

Reach out, she says.
Dare greatly.
Words on a page, words
That reach inside
And touch that part
That feels alone.
Holds safe that part
That feels ashamed.

Part of me thinks
This should be easy.
Another part cringes
Away from the light,
From the touch of another.
That part trusts no other.
That part dreams of
Freedom, wealth, celebrity,
An ivory tower, a fantasy,
Any way to escape
This cave.
This self enforced isolation.

And then I remember,
I have my cave
And you have yours.
What would happen
If we just stopped pretending?

The South Downs, Good Friday, April 2017