Poems and Phantasms

Posts tagged ‘mental health’

Counting Victory


How many days have you been successful with a personal goal? Do you only count consecutive perfection? If you back-slide for one day, does it mean you’re starting over? In a recent conversation with my daughter about her new healthy habit efforts, I brought up my dark nail-biting past. (It was more appropriate to share than my disordered eating history, but trust me…I am no stranger to trauma and recovery.)

“If you mess up, it doesn’t mean you are at zero again. Just skip that day and keep counting on the next successful day.” I’m pretty sure my advice goes against the sobriety-tracking culture of the 12-Step Anonymous programs, but I believe it’s healthier to honor every day, hour, and even minute of progress. All-or-nothing pressure is a mental health bully. Better to be gentle with ourselves as we heal, yes?

I’m a musician, so I believe in practice. Practice cannot be erased; the skills you build are there in your muscle memory. Long lapses may make them fade, but they can come back with more practice. Persistence is the key. 

If you miss a day and bite your nails, they might be at zero level again…but YOU aren’t. You became stronger with every moment of resistance. Nothing can take that away.

If you go against your better judgement and do the thing or fail to do the thing, it’s just a momentary slip. You’re still on the path, you just fell down in that spot. Look behind you—you’ve come a long way already. So pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and keep going.

Drawing Lines with the Light

“La Rebeyrolle (municipality of Saint-Priest-la-Feuille, Creuse, Fr), early morning pilgrim’s departure on the Way of Saint James” Havang(nl) (CC A-S A 3.0)

The darkness passes through me.

It would sour my tongue and poison
my blood. Disdain
from one grandmother,
despair from the other.

Pain finds pain and merges, muddying
the source. Sometimes sinks so heavy
it begs for a name. This gift is sharp,
finding the edge of me.

Let it seep out from the holding
cells, deepening my breath
to make room for the shadow.

Unlocked space is forgiving,
gentling the nightmare in my bones.

Drawing lines with the light,
the chosen pieces of me rise
into dawning.

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