I started writing poetry about four years ago while suffering through a nearly fatal tsunami of depression. Every day I felt myself being pulled out to sea to drown - and writing poems was the only thing I could find to bring me back to shore.
During the worst of it (and believe me, it was truly horrible) in early June of 2016, I started a collection of poems that was just for my eyes only.
It was called “During this, my last summer on Earth.” I was fully convinced I wouldn’t make it out of the summer alive.
I wrote every day to save my life - and coupled with some outside help I was (obviously) able to survive the insidious lies depression was telling me.
Each of those poems in “During this, my last summer on Earth.” was written like a letter to myself.
The one I’m going to share was written after I was turned down for another job - which is something I’ve had grown accustomed to in my journey.
While the job didn’t at all fit my skill set I had fooled my way through multiple interviews. I was told I was the front runner. It would have been a job that would have offered my family finical security and me serious social status - both of which I so desperately crave. I have always been a misfit. I’ve never known how to be an academic or make money - though they were both things that I really wanted. I have long been a penguin in a world of sharks.
I thought I had the job in the bag. When I didn’t get it I broke like a cheap dinner plate.
I was 44 without a career or any hope to find one. Everything very so rudderless. I was just floating along.
I couldn’t stand the way my life looked. I wanted to throw up every time I was forced to contemplate the image I was giving the world.
All around me were successful people driving fancy cars and taking exquisite vacations - and here I was barely existing. I cursed my life. I wished I would have been born somebody else. I wished I would have been given a different brain and heart. I loathed myself completely.
It was as I wrote this poem that it came to me:
I was so obsessed with trying to be like other people that I started to use them as mirrors. I was basing my success on how I compared to my friends and neighbors. I was attempting to (and failing) to fork my image around how other people appeared to live their life.
I was done lying to myself. I was ready to embrace my journey to be a unique artist. I was ready to look at my life through a gentler set of eyes.
This poem and the other 59 from “During this, My Last Sumner On Earth.” saved my life. I will likely never release any of them for public consumption but I want to share this one with you today. I have this deep compulsion that somebody else needs to read it as I did.
if you don't like
the way that you
look it's probably
because you have
chosen the wrong
mirror to look at
stop using other people as a mirror
to see your reflection in
- especially if that other person is an asshole
assholes make the worst mirrors
they only want to reflect your blemishes
and your weaknesses
and your fault lines
and your sins
don't blame them for making you feel bad.
you are the one looking for them
to tell you how you look
of course, they will tell you that you're ugly
of course, they will say you aren’t enough
they are assholes - what did you expect?
while we are at it...
stop using your bank account as a mirror
it's a liar
it doesn't really show you who you really are
neither does your car
or your grades
or your awards
or your Instagram
or your past mistakes
or your diagnosis
or your late bills
or your failures
none of those things make very good mirrors
If you want to know how you actually look I suggest that you hold a baby for a bit. Pay attention to how a baby will look at you. To a baby you are a garden of a million wildflowers. You are a giant. You are an ancient warrior protecting them from monsters and uncomfortable rashes. You fill up their sky like a brilliant supernova.
To a baby laying in your arms, you are both the cradle and the lullaby. A baby will gaze at you with wide eyes and an uncontrollable smile because they have just come from heaven and they know divinely crafted beauty when they see it.
They see the miracle in you. They see the miracle in you. They see the miracle in you.
Babies make the best mirrors. Look at yourself the way a baby looks at you.
For too long you have let dirty and broken shards of glass tell you who you are. Their reflection is corrupt - stop trusting them. Let the innocent show you who you are. They see your light. They see you for who you are:
in the time you have left
be kind to yourself
and choose what reflections
you believe with the
See you in September,
you’re going to make it
to see the leaves change
I swear it
~ john roedel