This is how poetry pulled me out of my darkness

To: Those who struggle to express their emotions

From: Yolanda (As told to Lauren Brill)

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To those who do not express their emotions,

For most of my life, I lived in the dark. I was brought up in an environment where we didn’t talk about our problems. We were told to be grateful for the food on our plates and the roof over our heads.

There were moments I felt guilty for feeling sad.

Whether it was typical childhood problems or more traumatic situations, I ultimately learned how to block out my pain and go on in life. Like a light switch turning off, I could easily numb my emotions.

As life moved on, I did what I thought I was supposed to do: get married, get a job, and have a child.  But I wasn’t happy with my life or my marriage, but I didn’t have anyone else to blame. In my 40’s, my life began to unravel. I began to have an affair. For the first time in years, I started to feel my emotions.

This man would come from halfway across the city to bring me lunch. He made me feel beautiful. He made me feel valued, loved, respected, and heard, which I didn’t feel at home. But the relationship didn’t last. Our families were destroyed, and we separated from our respective spouses.

When we ended our relationship, it didn’t end nicely. We went from talking every day to barely speaking at all. I was heartbroken. Simultaneously, I was mourning the loss of this relationship and the loss of my marriage.

For the first time, I couldn’t close off my emotions. I couldn’t turn off the light. I couldn’t stay in the dark.

This is one Yolanda’s drawings.

My ex-husband moved out with my son. I was home alone and heartbroken. And so, I just started to write. I ended up writing poems for the guy with whom I had an affair as well as my ex-husband. Finally, I felt a release. These poems allowed me to express my emotions. 

Writing brought back a memory from grade school. Suddenly, I remembered writing a poem in about seventh or eighth grade for Remembrance Day. We had to stand up and present our poetry to the class. I raised my hand and read my poem. All the smart kids in the class accused me of plagiarism.  

They told me, “There’s no way you wrote that. There’s no way that came from you.”

Even the teacher doubted me.

So, for all those years, I stopped writing.

After I wrote those poems, I realized I had a talent and started writing for myself. I started writing about my son, my pain, and my heartbreak. Through writing as well as art, I began to see that  I didn’t have faith in myself. I didn’t trust myself and in my life, I sought validation from men.

Expressing myself allowed me the space to grow tremendously.

Writing made me feel like I had a voice. Finally, I felt heard in a way that nobody could discredit me. I began to heal from my pain and past.

Writing made me feel like I had a voice.

Now, I am more compassionate, and I am not so rough around the corners. And I have been working on how I speak to others. I have peeled back the layers and not only learned from my mistakes but started to understand why I made them in the first place.

My ex-husband and I sold our house, and I am renting a basement apartment in my aunt’s house. After being out of work for a year, I got a job, and for the first time in my life, I am completely independent.

Writing and even drawing have provided me with healthy outlets to express myself. The impact has been so profound that I have even begun helping other people write poems about their lives.  I hope to help other people get out of their darkness, find their truth and heal.

Today, I am 46 years old, and I feel like this is the start of a new life and a more authentic and happy way of living.

While I started writing because of my relationships with other people, I want you to know if you’re struggling, if you are hurting, the only way to heal and find your light is to find a way to express your truth so you can change your relationship with yourself.

Don’t fear your emotions. Embrace them.


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