I have something special for you today. I usually don't do this, but...
There's this poem. A reader emailed it to me a few months ago.
I liked it so much and thought you would too, so I did some digging and found the true author: Judith Espinosa. I reached out to her and she generously gave me permission to share her work in full here, with you.
You may have seen this piece online, titled "The Awakening."
Judith wrote this to help others who've endured great loss, illness, and heartbreak. People like you and me, who'd rather lay claim to this new life than live the rest of our days being victims of our circumstances.
Find Judith's work here for more of her story and inspiration for this and other pieces.
I'm happy and grateful to be sharing her poem with you here, in the correct, completed, and unaltered version.
I hope through her words, you find a deeper love for others, and for yourself.
Read it in one sitting. It's longer, so take your time and make space to really enjoy it. It's worth it.
There comes a time in life when you finally get it...when in the midst of all the fear and insanity, you stop dead on your tracks….and somewhere inside your head a voice cries out, ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying…or struggling, to hold on. And like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside. You shudder once or twice, you blink back a few tears and through a mantle of wet lashes, you begin to look at the world with new eyes.
This, is your awakening!
You realize that it is time to stop hoping and waiting for something to magically change or for happiness, safety and security, to come galloping like a wild horse over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that there is no Prince Charming or Cinderella…and that in the real world, there aren't always fairy tale endings, or beginnings for that matter. You realize that any "happily ever after" MUST begin with you….and with this, a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.
You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, approve or appreciate who or what you are….and that, is OK (everyone is entitled to their own views and opinions). Thus, you learn the value of loving and championing yourself and with this, a sense of new-found confidence is born, of self-approval.
You stop complaining and blaming other people for things they did to you (or did not do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on, is the unexpected. You realize that people don't always say what they mean, or mean what they say…and that not everyone will always be there for you….and that it is not always, about you. As a result, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself. And with this, a sense of safety and security is born, from self-reliance.
You also stop judging and pointing fingers…because you begin to accept people as they are; overlooking their shortcomings or human frailties. In the process, a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness…for others and more importantly, for yourself.
You begin to see that much of the way that you’ve viewed yourself and the world around you, is a result of misleading messages and opinions which have engrained in your psyche. Therefore, you start to sift through emotional debris, created by what has been fed to you for years; about what you should believe, how you should look, how you should live, what career you should strive for, who you should marry, what you should expect of marriage, the meaning of having or not having children…or why you should or should not live up to your family’s expectations.
You begin to open up to new possibilities…new worlds and different points of views; assessing and redefining who you really are and what you truly stand for. You learn the difference between wanting and needing…you start to discard useless doctrines, which you’ve now outgrown; some which you should have never bought into, to begin with. You learn it is in giving that one truly receives. You discover there’s power in creating and contributing…so you stop maneuvering through life as a mere “consumer” just looking for the next fix.
Surely, you learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not just some outdated ideals of a bygone era….but rather, like key ingredients in a mortar; the foundation upon which you should build a life. You begin to understand that you don’t know everything; as it is not your job to save the world….and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. The difference between guilt and responsibility becomes crystal clear…and you learn how important it is to set boundaries and the freedom, of saying NO. You realize the only cross to bear, is the one you choose to carry…as martyrs too, get burned at the stake.
You also learn about LOVE. Familial, friendship and romantic love…and how to love. How much to give, when to hold back, and when to walk away. You learn not to impose or force things in a relationship. With this, you stop projecting expectations and learn to accept reality; allowing a natural unfolding of what is, instead of what you wish it would be. You begin to understand that you are not more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable, or more important by being how any person you love, expects you to be. Because, the person holding your hand does not define you. Furthermore, you stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes…and realize that just as people grow and change, so does love. Ultimately, you accept that love does not have to be specific to a popular format, to equal happiness…or for it to have validity, and that being alone does not mean, being lonely.
You look in the mirror and you come to terms with not having the body of an airbrushed model, from a fashion magazine. Therefore, you stop competing with the image in your head and instead, you start to love yourself exactly as you are. You stop agonizing on how to stack up to what others feel is normal or acceptable. Thus, you refrain from putting your feelings aside or ignoring your needs to fit in, or to satisfy others. And you learn that feelings of entitlement when it relates to your life and your happiness, are perfectly OK…you are, entitled to be appreciated….and valued. And sometimes, if you feel trespassed, it is necessary to make demands and to set boundaries, in order to protect yourself.
You understand that you do deserve to be treated with love, kindness, compassion and respect; starting with how you, treat yourself…and not to contemplate anything less. From this point on, only those arms who cherishes you, may hold you….and in this process, you internalized the meaning of self-respect.
You learn that your body, really is your temple. Thus…you begin to take care of it and to treat it with innate respect. You start to eat a balance diet and to hydrate with more water…you take more time to exercise. You learn that fatigue can also weaken the spirit; which could lead to self doubt and anxiety…so you take more time to rest.
And just as food fuels the body…laughter fuels the soul, so you find time to laugh and play. You learn that for the most part, in life you get what you believe you deserve…and that much of life if not all, is a self fulfilling prophecy; so you make an effort to become more optimistic. You learn that anything worth achieving, is worth fighting for. That wishing for something to happen, is different from working toward making it happen…and you find the strength to do the latter.
Most importantly, you learn that to succeed in anything…you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone and that it is ok to ask for help. Consequently, you learn the only thing you should fear in life is the great robber baron of all time; FEAR ITSELF! So you find a way to step right through your fears, because you realize that whatever happens you can handle it. For to give in to fear…is to give up the right to live on your terms.
You learn to fight hard for your life and not to squander, living under a cloud of impending doom. You see life isn’t always fair; you don’t always get what you wish for and sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. It is during these moments that you learn not to personalize things. God isn’t punishing you, or failing to answer your prayers. It is life just happening! And you start to recognize evil in its most primal state; the ego…learning how to control it, instead of allowing it, to control you.
You realize that negative feelings such as anger, envy, hate, resentment and sorrow, must all be understood and redirected…or they will suffocate the life out of you…and poison the universe which surrounds you. You learn to admit when you’re wrong and to build bridges instead of walls. You learn about gratitude and to appreciate the comfort of simple things, which many take for granted….things that millions of people on Earth can only dream of: clean running water, a full refrigerator, a comfortable bed to sleep on, a hot shower on a cold day, clean clothes to wear…a place to call home.
Slowly, you start to take responsibility for yourself. You make yourself a promise to never betray yourself again by settling for less than. You hang a wind chime outside a window, so you could listen to the wind; as a gentle reminder to keep trusting, keep smiling…and you make it a point to stay open to every wonderful possibility.
Finally…with courage in your heart and with God by your side…you take a stand. You take a deep breath…and you begin to design the life you want, as best as you can!
© 1993 Judith Espinosa. All Rights Reserved. Reproduced here with permission from the author.
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Did you love this poem, too? Which part really speaks to your life right now?
Tell me in the comments. I'd love to know what you think!