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Recovery poetry

Look Deeper


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At times my vision is shallow and short-sighted as I see my loved-one cope with the challenges we label mental illness.

At times through shallow eyes I see a future stunted, my loved-one's possibilities not fully realized. 

   But then I look deeper.

   There I see unnecessary expectations created by me, held by me, and fully releasable by me.    

   There I see good in today's actualities, somewhat hidden perhaps, but free of the prejudgment of my favored possibilities. 


At times through shallow eyes I see pain unrelenting in the chaos of the unexpected and unwanted.

   But then I look deeper.

   There I see and coalesce my strength, knowing my loved-one manages pain and difficulties much more acute than my own.  

   There I see comfort in controlling what I can control, influencing what I can influence. Knowing that can be enough.

   There I see a stream of moments: each an opportunity to find contentment in loving,         

       Even if those be the odd loves of allowing the one I cherish to painfully fall,       

       Or keeping myself at a painful distance from the one I long to hold near.


At times through shallow eyes I see guilt deserved for the mistakes I made that may have contributed to my loved-one's pain.

   But then I look deeper.

   There I see the natural messiness of life, where mistakes will invariably be made.

   There I see my ability to forgive myself for nothing more than garden-variety human frailty.

   There I see my resolve to do the best I know how to do now, regardless of what has happened in the past.


At times through shallow eyes I see my loved-one as irreparably broken

   But then I look deeper.

   There I see my loved-one whole and intact, worthy and good, sharing in my desire for wellness.

   There I see a hope in a therapy not yet tried, in a kind word not yet spoken, in an hour not yet arrived.    

   There I see a beauty, not broken, not diminished, not missing, but shrouded in a scrim of pain.


We can work together to pierce this scrim if and only if we recognize the stunning value of what lies beneath it.


I choose to look deeper.

I choose to help my loved-one and others similarly struggling.

I choose to help, not to compensate for their weakness, but to supplement their strengths. 

I choose to help, not to bend them to my ideas of recovery, but to liberate them to express the profound goodness they are. 

I choose to help, not because I must, but because I can.


I choose to look deeper because I choose to recognize the human treasure trove at stake. 


I ask, “What do you choose?”


             --- Craig Wagner


Recommit to the goals

That you now know are true.
They provide grounding and direction, 
And form a unique path for you. 

Find joy in the small steps, 
And in patience abide, 
For that thousand mile journey, 
Starts with one confident stride. 

Then lay aside goals, 
And with great passion infuse 
The doing that’s required, 
To gain the ends you choose. 

Find joy in the process, 
And the rhythms of action, 
For to will yourself Onward,
Brings its own satisfaction. 

Then lay aside passion, 
And with great discernment embrace, 
The fruits of the moment, 
Whatever their race. 

Find joy in that moment, 
For where else can it be? 
Bind joy to that moment, 
By living mindfully. 

So dwell on these three, 
Let them commingle inside, 
Aligning the vector of their strength, 
With your next confident stride. 

The goal is the vision, 
The doing is the muse, 
The being in nowness, 
Causes the circle to fuse. 

       --- Craig Wagner

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