Here’s my shoulder.
There, there…lay your head upon it.
Cry if you need to cry.
Don’t believe others who might tell you
that I am cotton-candy-fragile.
I can absorb your tears.
Though I love you dearly,
I must admit, I’m not entirely altruistic,
for when you admit your fears,
I recognize my own.
Let us be weak together,
let us be strong.
Let us just be
(c) Juliana Taliaferro
I like to think that I’m a good egg,
but let’s face facts – I’m a cracked egg too,
like you are, like everyone is.
We’re all a little off-center,
having known love and nurture,
want and benign neglect.
I could continue stumbling,
trying to right myself,
as I watch you in your struggle
to remain upright.
What if we were to clasp hands,
or even to hold one another?
Might we establish equilibrium?
Might we be centered together?
(c) Juliana Taliaferro 02/02/2012
I’ve been a writer and poet for many years, and have enjoyed belonging to several writing communities. I’ve met people from various places and with various writing styles, and have been mildly surprised by several who have confided that they have a history of trauma or mental health issues. I say “mildly surprised” only because it may have been astounding at first hearing, but as I met more writers with those issues in common, it made more sense.
Anyone who has written, either professionally or as an amateur, has noticed the cathartic effect of putting pen to paper. Creative writing seems to intensify that effect, writing, as it were, from another’s point of view. (Although if we are writing it, our own voice is clearly woven within, even if we prefer to distance ourselves from it.) We can work out on paper that which we have been reticent to speak aloud to any other person.
One of the best poets, writers, and speakers of our time, Dr. Maya Angelou, has gone through the transformative journey of healing through reading, writing, and finally speaking her truth through poetry and stories. Selectively mute as a child from extreme trauma, she finally found her voice six years later. What a loss for all of us if she had not made the journey to health. Watch her videos below to hear about her childhood and about how she found her voice:
Obviously, it has been my subjective experience that there is, indeed, a link between affective disorders and creativity. That is, after all, why I created this magazine ten years ago. Is there quantifiable evidence of such a link? Many neurobiologists have made this claim over the years. This article by a student at Bryn Mawr makes a compelling argument: http://bit.ly/xyeivk