Poetry as a Safety Valve for Mental Health

Safety valves

We all need someone to confide in. A listening ear. Sympathetic company. Though some things are too close for comfortable sharing. Too painful to pass on to another.

They can remain hidden deep inside. Buried, to all intents and purposes. Or we choose to release in a different way. We vent. Rage. Cry. Or maybe express the inexpressible in a different form.

When adult life crowded in demandingly for me as a child, invading my mind and body with things it was far from ready to receive, I poured out my heart in words. Diaries locked with a key only I possessed. Journals. Notepads. Imaginary tales to escape into as I scribbled out stories with happier outcomes than mine.

Books became my safety valve. As I retreated into other worlds in my head, the one I inhabited in the flesh lost some of its power to cause me pain.

Poetry spoke to my soul. A balm to soothe a fretful heart. Here was understanding. Empathy. Every human emotion laid bare. An unleashing of feelings from another that brought a degree of healing to my own.

For many years, my personal poetry and prose remained hidden from prying eyes. Private. No entry. Until God began a deep work unearthing all the dark material to bring about emotional healing from childhood emotional and sexual abuse and the mental health breakdowns they contributed to.

An unfolding was precursor to my soul unfurling toward the warmth of God’s Light again and a grateful return of this prodigal daughter to her heavenly Father’s loving embrace.

Now, I read for pleasure and interest rather than escapism. And I write out my heart in poetry and prose in a way that helps release the pain of challenging circumstances in order to bring a light of recognition in another’s eyes.

Those “You too?” moments and sharing of woundedness are a comfort to others and a huge blessing to me too.

I have a great desire to support those who may be hurting emotionally from a painful past pervading the present or challenging circumstances.

My goal is to help set others free by sharing my story and how God is still in the process of deliverance and restoration.

We don’t have to live chained lives.

We can break free.

We can come alongside and support each other in our journey toward healing and wholeness

Poetry helps me so much. It blends the prosaic with the profound as a poet draws from observation of their own external and internal reality to present a deeper, universal truth hidden within.

As I write, spilling words on a page, it is undeniably cathartic for me, as well as a means to pave the way for those who read it to find release too.
I hope and pray that you will find some “Me too” moments as you read the poem below.

Safety valve

Sometimes our pain
gets buried
deep inside
locked up
in a safe place
where we hide
our true selves
from prying eyes
yet wounds will
fester when left
unattended over years
and seep their poison
through our systems
releasing more
anxiety and fears

We need an outlet
safety valve to
vent within constraints
a catching-place
for leaking holes
where what is
heard is veiled
yet has intent
I express myself
through poetic lament
to pour forth
words as water
releasing mercy drops
that may hit
the spot for other
thirsty souls

This is a guest post from Joy Lenton. Joy is a wife, mother, M.E. sufferer, avid reader, poet, blogger, communicator and full-time follower of Jesus and lives in Norfolk, United Kingdom. Discover more about Joy at her about.me page

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Barry Pearman

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