The year after my dad’s death, that school year, I went to state in Forensics for the poem below. It makes me realize that tragedy can give you a “nothing to lose” attitude. Just not caring what anybody thinks, really and truly, for just a little while in life; it felt pretty great, odd as it is.
This allowed me the courage to read this poem over and over again in front of teachers & judges, at the local and district level, and accomplishing making it to state in Madison, WI; receiving a silver medal. It was very, very therapeutic and stands out as one of my very favorite accomplishments so far in life. I was 15 years old😊:
Please Hear What I’m Not Saying
Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
For I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
Masks that I’m afraid to take off
And none of them is me.
Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me,
but don’t be fooled,
for God’s sake don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me,
within as well as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water’s calm and I’m in command
and that I need no one,
but don’t believe me.
My surface may be smooth but
my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.
But such a glance is precisely my salvation,
my only hope, and I know it.
That is, if it is followed by acceptance,
If it is followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself
from my own self-built prison walls
from the barriers that I so painstakingly erect.
It’s the only thing that will assure me
of what I can’t assure myself,
that I’m really worth something.
But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare to. I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid you’ll think less of me,
that you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.
So I play my game, my desperate, pretending game
With a façade of assurance without
And a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of Masks,
And my life becomes a front.
I tell you everything that’s really nothing,
and nothing of what’s everything,
of what’s crying within me.
So when I’m going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I’m saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying,
what I’d like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can’t say.
I don’t like hiding.
I don’t like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you’ve got to help me.
You’ve got to hold out your hand
even when that’s the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you’re kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings —
very small wings,
With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator–an honest-to-God creator —
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from the shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.
Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach me
the blinder I may strike back.
It’s irrational, but despite what the books may say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.
Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.
By Charles C. Finn …. or is it? See Footnote
I just realized something about myself that I completely forgot; I can memorize something. Wow, I forgot how long this is and realize, now remembering back, how much I practiced to get this just right. I have literally amazed myself by myself.
Grief truly freezes time and distorts reality; completely. I have never done anything like this, since that moment in time when I cared about nothing, in the sense that nothing mattered to me; whether it be the opinion of others, what happened next, if something happened to me, or the consequences of pretty much anything (within certain boundaries since I did not want to cause my mother any more grief if I could help it). Sometimes, if we look at things the right way, we can realize certain things have to happen for other things to occur that might be rare and fleeting, but significant.
Don’t get me wrong, death is life changing and difficult in so many ways; that I didn’t even imagine. It changes all the time with how you will always and continue to feel about it. Yet there are reasons we need to go through certain things in order to grow, have perspective, and gain empathy for others. It’s how life balances itself. This is why my motto is balance in all aspects of life. It’s the point of view and perspective that let me heal after my father’s death & it still is.
My father really liked my yin-yang necklace I used to wear in middle school. I remember a specific time that he complimented it and then it was just that much cooler to me. When my dad thought something was neat, in regards to my style, I admired it. This necklace became a favorite and that is probably why I no longer have it. Yet the memory never fades.
It is another reason for me to seek balance; yin-yang☯️. It’s not easy every day or each minute, but overall, it feels like the appropriate goal/motto for lifes’ journey!
When the dawn of simplicity comes in life, complications leave. ~Yogi tea quote for tonight
Thanks for reading & reflecting!!