The Weight of Her Words: “Reality Bites”

Today’s poem is about what it means to really start to integrate the things you learn in treatment into your self, into your life. It’s about recognizing that no one else is going to do that for you; that the only way to truly recover is to work from the inside out, as opposed to letting therapists or parents or anyone else solve the problem for you.




Reality Bites


What’s this fear you have of letting go

This fear of moving on?


Why not cede this mad, tyrannical game

In which you’re an ambivalent pawn?


It grips every part of your body and brain

It pins down your spirt as well


You’re bound by the rules your own mind created

This is your custom-built hell


You want to do better, you wish that you could

So in comes your treatment team


All this will help, you say to yourself

All is in place– so it seems


You convince your new doctors, your family, and friends

That this time you really will try


You’re completely sincere– in that moment at least

It’s the most honest kind of lie


Sometimes you’re working, surrendering more

And then it’s not just for show


But other times when you say that you’re trying

“Trying” really means “No”


Most of the time what you’re aware of

Is the reality that you are faking


But there’s always the undercurrent of

The mistakes that you are making


But can I really call them mistakes?

No that’s not what they are at all


For each time that I hit a crossroads

I choose to stand up or fall


But that choice  never felt like a choice before

I couldn’t see it for what it was


I let my conscious Self fade away

To possessed by my precious chaos


The statements I’ve heard about healing my life

Over and over again


By people that I know mean very well

But the redundancy made my head spin


“You’ve got to stop puking, you’ve got to start eating

Don’t worry, you won’t get fat


There’s no reason for cutting and why all the pills?

Please stop this and start that”


I know that you love me, I know that you care

But you know that I’ve heard this before


What’s so special about this time?

I’m still not alive at my core


That’s where my work is– of this I am sure

That’s what I have to explore


That place has been shut up for too many years

It’s time that I tear down that door


I have done much to focus and learn

But it seems there is more work to do


It’s all about choices, and struggles for power

And seeking out what is true


Apparently there is only one way

To stop picking wounds that are sore


It’s to live in their pain and discomfort

Until they don’t hurt anymore



© Sarah Henderson 2008




About writingforrecovery

Sarah is a writer and poet who speaks out about issues that make people uncomfortable. Sarah advocates for causes such a sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and mental illness, and often speaks openly about her own experiences. She is determined to abolish the stigma associated with these issues and believes that it starts with people telling their stories, so she started a blog called Writing for Recovery where people can do just that. She is the author of three volumes of poetry and is currently at work on her fourth. She is convinced that there's a novel somewhere in her, and occasionally picks at the chapters so far. View all posts by writingforrecovery

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