Sunday, 27 February 2011

Why I Named my Blog After Emily Dickinson's Poem About Hope

One of the things I find the most difficult about dealing with the difficulties, complexities, emotions and humiliations of my daily life is finding a reason to actually do so. Over the last 15 years, between my M.E. and a broken, violent, emotionally abusive marriage (& subsequent divorce), it's been very hard at times to keep pushing myself to live, to survive - never mind to thrive! To let myself have those moments of hurting & loneliness & brokenness ... but not to let them define me, or the course my life takes. Truthfully, it's a battle, every single day of my life. There are days when if it wasn't for the people in my life who love me, and whom I love, I could simply give up. Hope, for me, has changed from being a type of luxury into being that last rope that connects me to life - so I hold on with everything in me, and try to keep breathing!

This beautiful image was created by Baby Joan - Click here to browse her work
This Gorgeous image is copyrighted to BabyJoan
I can't tell you how being confined to 4 small walls shrinks your focus, too. The tiny things become the huge things, somehow. And that's hard in some ways of course ... but there's also a great joy that can come out of it too, because suddenly you notice all these things that in a busy, active life just aren't even on your radar! I mean, what busy person regularly pays more than a passing thought to a laugh, a small act of kindness or compassion, the love of a loyal friend, a ray of sunshine through the curtains, the beauty of an object they've seen a million times over, sitting on the shelf in their bedroom - or even the simple ability to take a shower and be clean?? But when you're bedbound longterm, and your world shrinks down to a couple of rooms, and (mostly) one person, those things become the centre of your life - and they somehow shield you, just a little, from the pain & reality of your life.

Am I truly happy? Honestly, no ... but I have happiness in my life ... and when I manage to grasp onto those those tiny, beautiful, hope-filled things, I'm choosing to not just live, but to do anything I have to do find and keep that small measure of happiness. It's that hope which inspired the name of this blog : The Thing With Feathers.

The name is taken from an Emily Dickinson poem, which beautifully summarises the truth that it's in the centre of life's storms that hope becomes the sweetest, the most real & constant.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

This beautiful image was created by Erin Leigh - Click here to see her blog or browse her work
This piece of art is used with kind permission from Erin Leigh

What ways have you guys found to hold onto hope in the middle of life's storms?

Are there specific things which give you a spark of hope each day?

Susannah's Signature
I'd love to hear your reply and I know it'll be valued by other readers too! I always try to respond, please just be aware that it can take me some time to find the energy to do so as I've been particularly ill recently and struggling to get online. Thanks for reading! :)



  1. Beautifully said, Susannah. There can be happiness despite the suffering and isolation. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship from 16 to 20 - my parents had an unhappy marriage, so I didn't realize it was not the way it should be. At 21 I met a a phenomenal man who is kind, compassionate, and caring. He changed my life and made me a better person. What a strange experience, to be with someone who didn't blow up over the littlest things! He is the best thing that ever happened to me.


  2. Thanks Jocelyn! :) I was a bit nervous about this post ... couldn't quite get it to say what I wanted it to, lol.

    I'm so sorry to hear about what you've gone through - so many people don't realise that teens are dealing with abusive relationships too! It's wonderful to hear though that you're with such a wonderful man now - what a difference that must make every single day!

    Take care hon,

  3. Honestly, I went through a period when all I had to hang onto was my therapist. She provided the hope for me. She truly cares about her patients - in a professional manner - and became a kindof mother substitute, someone who was on my side, encouraging me to keep trying. All it takes is one person who believes, even when you don't believe yourself.

  4. You're so right there - that one person makes all the difference!! I count myself amongst the lucky ones to have a best friend who has been with me through it all and never gave up on me and always believed in me, and in my ME. She knew it was real even when I've doubted myself - thank God for people like her and your therapist!!

    I'm so glad you had that someone at the time you most needed them. :)

  5. I love the poem, its beautiful. I've had M.E. for over 8 years now and I identified with what you said, I find each day is difficult. I also know what you mean about the small things and noticing the joy they can bring.