Oct 17, 2017 - Healing Through Poetry by Chad Charlie

In today’s world, it’s not difficult to find ourselves feeling some sort of trauma or stress in our mind, bodies, and spirits. Whether it be doing movement work, activism, or simply paying attention to current events on social media, there has been an abundance of stress to go around for everyone. Unfortunately with the current leader of the so-called free world, it’s sort of like being an everyday audience member of an Oprah Winfrey show – “You get trauma. You get trauma. Everybody gets trauma”.

We often find ourselves in pain. We find ourselves in tears. We constantly wish there was more we could do to help those in this weeks crisis’. These feelings that we have are pertinent to our being – the being of humanity. To have humanity is to have sensitivity. With our sensitivity consistently being overloaded with this trauma, we need healing.

How do we heal?

Before we heal, we need to understand what healing is. To cover what healing IS NOT; I’ll remind you that it’s not “getting over it”. Healing is not dealing with the pain and expecting time to cover the cost of your emotional and spiritual livelihood.

To be precise, healing is to make healthy; whole, or sound; restore to health. Healing is to free from evil; cleanse; purify: to heal the soul.

“Well, without giving it time, how do we do that, Chad?”

Sure, there will always be the option to seek a therapist for guidance, or the easier “kick back and have a beer about it” type of healing. However, not all of us have access to professional therapy, and we all know very well the unhealthy repercussions of alcohol abuse to bandage emotional pain.

Assuming we’ve all been to grade school (forgive me for assuming, if you did not go to grade school), I’m sure we’ve all learned to write our feelings in a journal. It wasn’t until I was a grown adult that I learned the importance of taking all my anger and/or stress out with a simple pen and paper (or much more realistically, the notepad app on my phone).

I learned to heal through writing poetry.

I began with writing a poem, in the form of a letter, to my father who played the absentee role in my life. Within this poem I asked him a series of questions such as “What would you say if I told you that I remembered the childhood where I make-believed you were actually around?” and “What would you say if I told you that I forgive you?”. After critically thinking about the words I would use to express my pain and trauma to this giver-of-seed, I further understood that there is a solution – to not be like him – to not worry about what he has to say because I really don’t want to hear it – to understand that his answers wouldn’t heal my pain, my answers would.

Taking these hardships in our lives and creating our own solutions within our art is healing. Within poetry, we seek the perfect words to paint the picture we want to express, and a poem with the perfect words is a solution in itself. It just takes the critical thought to find those words.

After writing out the poem, I would rehearse it to myself in my room. I repeat it so many times that I memorize every word. Once I memorize the whole poem, I rehearse it more and more until I start to see differences in my attitude in speaking these words. Sometimes my words come out in anger, sometimes I cried to get them out, sometimes they come out softly as if I’m expressing my love for the person I’m writing about. The point is, when I found those perfect words to express how I felt, the picture started to paint itself with my attitude towards the topic I wrote about.

What if I’m not good at finding the perfect words?

Expressing how you feel is the perfect words. Sometimes it’s not about writing, sometimes it’s just speaking about how you feel. I’ve found myself driving down the highway, freestyling. Alone, of course. I would say the things that’s hurting me, build a momentum, and create a poem out of it. The more I got into, the deeper my poem shook me. I was saying things that I didn’t even know was within me. I pulled out a trauma that has been hiding in my heart by allowing my emotions to speak.

Finding the most effective way to express your feelings is important. Many artists find that they have to take an artistic escape to be able to focus on their art. They leave their current environments and temporarily trade them for an inspiring one. For a person in the city, sometimes we need to put ourselves into nature to have that solitude that we need to ground ourselves. Maybe people-watching at the park is inspiring for you, or even just in your room with the best piano background music playlist Spotify has to offer playing in your headphones. You have the emotions in you, you just need to express it.

One time a friend and I drove circles in her ’01 Ford pickup, sharing poems. Eventually we ran out of poems to share and began to freestyle together. It’s like a natural thing for your feelings to come out when you’re freestyling poetry. We shared the pain that was in our hearts at the moment, and also shared the love that was in our hearts. With the air filled with our emotions, we couldn’t help but grow a love for each other that turned our friendship into a much stronger and more loving bond than we’d ever felt.

In these instances where poetry has become healing for you, you will begin to truly understand the solution to your trauma. After all the words that you went through, all the sentences that you could quote yourself on for words to live by, you will feel that your poem has led you to become stronger. Your poem has taught you where to go from here. It has taught you what to do, and what not to do. Your poems have healed your soul. All it took was a little digging, crying, yelling, and allowing yourself to be true with your heart.

What do I do with the poetry?

Keep it. Share it with your friends, post it online, record the next hottest album. The goal is to heal. Once you find healing within your poetry, that process is done. It’s up to you whether or not you would like to inspire others to heal their pain by either listening to your poem or by creating discussion within this topic that causes and/or triggers trauma.

One thing that I do suggest though, is to appreciate your poetry. Understand that you spent hours, weeks, months, and maybe even years to finish this poem. It took a lot of pain to paint this picture. You dug deep, you expressed your feelings, you shared your deepest darkest fears with the ones you love. Appreciate that. Appreciate the struggles you fought to discover this healing. Because if there is anything that we would not want to do, it’s to not heal.

– Chad Charlie, Spoken Word Artist

“Lost Father”

Last Real Indians