The inspiration for this poem came quite out of the blue but was an amazing gift at the time. You know those moments when someone says something revelatory and it keeps you thinking about it for days later…
I had been invited to a social gathering which, on the day I wasn’t sure if I should attend. I was feeling quite low and really didn’t want to pretend to be upbeat and jolly. However, my yoga practice has taught me that sometimes we should do the opposite of what we feel like we want to do, so I went. It was a small gathering and a great crowd of people and I really was glad I had gone.
Towards the end of the evening, one of the women there came over to me and told me something. It seemed quite random as we hadn’t been talking about it but she said she wanted to tell me about it. It concerned the four stages of LOSS. The first stage, she said, was losing control of the situation. So, during the pandemic being told you can’t do everyday things like, well, work! I’d had to close my business for the designated lockdown duration and certainly felt that I had lost control of when and how I could work. The second stage was the loss of meaning or purpose and whilst I kept myself busy this relied upon daily motivation to write or research and study. Everything I do depends on human contact and so it did feel like I had lost my sense of purpose during this time. The third stage was the loss of security whether financial or a secure status within your peer group. I definitely felt the concerns of financial loss and the importance and relevance of my work or status as a self-employed yoga teacher and therapist seemed greatly reduced. The final stage of loss is the loss of self esteem and as she finished telling me about the four stages of loss I realised that I was ticking all of the boxes. Unfortunately I was blaming myself completely for the situation I was in and being so hard on myself that my self esteem was at rock bottom. That’s the part that we can control, even when the situation and its circumstances are beyond our control.
After spending the weekend thinking about what she said, I decided to write a poem. As we go through the stages of loss it can feel like we’re falling into a deep pit that we then struggle to climb out of, hence the title: Pit Falling. You might also be able to relate your precarious situation to these stages, especially as a result of the dramatic response to the pandemic. I hope this poem helps you in the same way that this information helped me. And, I’d like to dedicate it to Sarah and all those working in the field of mental health: you’re doing a magnificent job.
When you feel like you’re losing control
Missing the catch and dropping the ball
Being pushed and feeling the pull
On the edge, about to fall
You need to stop to take some time
Because your health is on the line…
You’re not a freak to want to have control over your life
‘Cos sometimes things go way beyond and this will cause us strife
We lose control and what we can do suddenly we cannot
And whilst it isn’t personal, it can feel like it’s a plot.
When we’re not sat in the driver’s seat, our life might falter and stall
And fear can overtake us as we spin out of control
Suddenly we’re going nowhere fast and in the wrong direction
Then we stop and think about our lives, and call this introspection.
There may indeed be times when it’s useful to assess the meaning
Of our lives. ‘Cos purpose oils the pistons of future dreaming
It seems as if someone has pulled the keys from the ignition
With no control or meaning life has turned into perdition.
You check the rear view mirror where security’s fast retreating
Your status and bank balance might be taking a real beating
The loss that started with control that made you lose your footing
When you found that just a Pit Stop wound up being a Pit Falling.
So, your mind looks for the reason why your life seems so ill fated
And it blames you ‘cos statistics show you’re the common denominated
You are the axis around which all of your dreams revolve
And now you watch with self loathing as all of them dissolve.
But stop a moment…did you really jump into this pit?
Or were you pushed? and now you’re up to your knees in $#*t!
Just put the gearstick in reverse and back up on that shame
You must realise that you can’t shoulder all the blame
This moment and it’s consequences were never of your making
Yet here you stand knee deep in sludge, while others are debating.
Opinions are a luxury that you can ill afford
You’re a passenger on an empty train and someone pulled the cord
You holler, “Get me outta here!” and you get words of wisdom
They tell you others are in deeper holes and do not really listen.
And all you want to do is cuss and fight and scream and shout
The pit walls seem too steep and slippery and you just can’t climb out
So, when it feels you’re really stuck: wheels spinning in the mire
Just disengage the clutch before your engine catches fire…
Now, I don’t have all the answers, but I do still dare to dream
And I know the first thing we must focus on is our self esteem
So, maybe change the filter on the harmful narrative
And appraise with honesty all that you have really got to give.
The person that you know yourself to be is truly good
But you cannot do this alone and so you know you should…
Next: build your team. The ones who put the wheels back on your wagon
They give you what you need: support your weight when you are flagging.
They help refuel your morale when your tank is running low
And understand that what you need is someone else to know
How difficult this is for you and that you’ve lost your way
Kindness, compassion and understanding will get you through the day.
And it might be a cliche but you have to try to smile
Because this facial posture defies gravity for a while
And it helps to lift you up enough to get a decent grip
As you start to climb up, don’t be scared if once or twice you slip.
Poke your head above the rim and take a look around
To see who’s left standing and who’s flying above the ground.
And if you do not recognise your life as it once was
It’s normal to feel discombobulated, and that’s because…
We build our life around patterns of repeated, learned behaviour
And when there’s change the unfamiliar can feel like it’s a failure
But it’s not. And you’re not. Sure, it chafes and causes friction
Though it feels like you’ve lost everything. You’re not a loser. That’s a fiction.
It might take longer than you’d like to get out of this pit
And be back in the driving seat. But you must admit
That there will come a time when you can look back with some pride
And say, “How did I manage to get through that?!” and, “Blimey, what a ride!”