Have you?

Have you ever written a poem that was just… WAY too personal for anyone else to read? That feeling you know once you let it out there, you’re embarrassed in a way because it’s the truth or that it’s something you just thought was considered oversharing?

I’m asking since I find it interesting to hear from others and their experiences. I went through this late last year in August (that feels so weird to say since it’s not even a week into 2022, but whatever) and I had to pull a poem from a magazine because I felt different feelings about it (the poem); feelings of embarrassment of what I described in the poem and my own experiences; feelings that I overshared too personally on something I perhaps wasn’t ready to share; feelings of anyone I know finding that poem. Silly, yes, as those stakes are relatively low and frankly if someone I knew did find my site or work, I say to you: “Welcome on board to a sinking ship. What’s your method of jumping?”

But, also, I dealt with feelings that I just wasn’t ready to share from that poem or have it read by anyone other than myself and maybe someone that I really trust. It’s clear that I’m likely not alone in that sentiment. Sometimes, there are things we just know on the inside that aren’t meant to be seen. Maybe not now. Maybe not ever. And that’s okay. Somethings are meant to be kept to ourselves, and when we decide to share them, it’s because we’re in an environment that’s allowing us to be vulnerable and that we can open ourselves up to that person.

What was your experience? You can keep it as vague (I mean, I did) or as detailed as you’d like.

35 thoughts on “Have you?”

  1. Personal poetry is, or can be, perfect! Being brave enough to show vulnerability is a wonderful way to connect deeply with an audience, whether listeners or readers of your work!

    I have written of being sexually abused as a child, then as a teen, and about my personal sex life, as well as being incontinent. Piss, shit, semen, and tears, there’s nothing that has happened that I as a writer about such things, is afraid to speak of!

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    1. I agree with that so much, Carolyn. I think it’s very strong to share and it can be a relief knowing how it can connect to others, and that there’s an audience that can resonate with your work. I also like what you say at the end there about how there’s nothing on the table you’re afraid to speak of; I really, really like that and it’s making me see the different perspectives writers have, and one thing that seems to be common through it all, though, is a certain openness or openness to experience (through writing and feedback).

      I admire your view on this, and I am so sorry for what you went through. ❤

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      1. My life has been a mixture a good and bad, but most of the time, it I stick it out, the rewards of the better times have come along … I am an optimist by nature, and feel my natural response is backed up by what happens.

        Bad things for sure, but with good support from family, friends, and medical people, my life is good.

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    1. Ooh, I love that comparison. ❤ I think it’s a brilliant one that encapsulates so much of the relief we get when we put our heart, our vulnerabilities, our mistakes on the page. I wrote this piece and it felt draining, yet it freed me of the burden it was in my head in a way.

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  2. This is a great topic. I have published things where I hope strangers read it but not people I know. I think that in my experience I have lived with the poem long enough to be able to let it go or edit it so as to make it more universal. Even if you can’t publish it, that poem still should be written, shouldn’t it?

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    1. Thomas, I love what you said there. Definitely agree; I think a poem should always be written–if we didn’t write for ourselves at times, I think it wouldn’t make writing nearly as enjoyable or as a relief it has been. I also like the thoughts on editing it to be more universal. I find myself and other writers hiding behind figurative imagery to convey enough of what happened, but also to keep what’s personal still inside.

      The more I’m reading everyone’s thoughts, the more I realize that there’s beauty and strength in honesty and vulnerability; while also deciding, as you say, whether to let this poem go or edit it so that it’s not as personal but more accessible in a way that keeps these feelings safe.

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  3. I believe it might be an age thing. When you are young with delusions of self importance you tend to be shy or embarrassed by your truth.
    After, nearer to the end; you think fu#k it let it go.
    I am currently in a let it go phase. I know there are people I know who are reading it and…

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    1. I agree 100%. I have my own delusions admittedly, and I think I am more scared of someone deconstructing the truth in a particular poem; and that just… petrifies me to my bones if someone really could figure me out that way. I am trying to let go of myself, but it’s a process.

      Family of mine have a similar mindset as yours. They tend to embrace themselves and let everyone else fuck themselves if they don’t like it, you know? Only when rightfully so, of course, as who really cares what other people think as long as it’s not harming anyone. It’s hard to break out of these constructions when you’re young and still trying to learn to be comfortable with yourself.

      I wish I could be more like what you described. That fuck it all mentality. Maybe one day, hahaha.

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  4. My life has always been weird. When I was young I told a good friend I wanted to start writing it down and he told me not to. He said that path is for my feet alone and no one else would understand the lessons I have to learn from it. But I still see in in my paintings. Others might see it too but not have the specific info. I’m not showing my paintings except on WordPress, which is a supportive community. It’s really not easy to draw that line between telling too much and sharing

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    1. Chris, I feel that so much. With the poetry community especially, it is definitely hard to define when you feel like you’ve spilled your guts out after getting drunk and feeling really good, or doing it and instead of relief, it’s just dread as you know it was a mistake in the first place. There are more perspectives to that broadly, I think, but I’m drawing those two extremes because you’re right, it’s hard to tell.

      That’s interesting what your friend said. I don’t think anyone can really understand what someone else has gone through, even if we try to express it through different mediums, as they will only understand as much as their experience and perhaps empathy may allow them to. In my opinion, if it provides relief, there is no shame to bear. In my case, there was momentarily relief followed by lengthy dread.

      If it can allow someone just a tiny glimpse in your world and they attempt to understand it, I give a hell a lot of kudos to anyone trying to step out of their own perspective and try to see the other view floating around them.

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      1. Exactly!! Sometimes when I try to explain a thing about my life the person doesn’t believe me or want to hear it. In a way that lets you off the hook too. Then when they ask you a personal question you can lie!! hahahaha
        Good to hear from you, Lucy, I’m looking forward to your writing again!!

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      2. That’s their problem if they don’t believe it and you’re right, it is a pretty good way to be let off the hook, although entirely dependent on the person you’re talking with! Hahaha.

        Thanks Chris. I got some catching up to do with WP and hopefully I’ll start posting more macabre or whatever I have in my floorboards these days.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. David, that is a great point. It’s entirely understandable given what a lack of anonymity and identity provides online–that fear of oversharing and it can lead to potential consequences.

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  5. It took me years to share my personal thoughts about my life of being a full-time carer for wife, that was a task I did for 30 years … … eventually the poems emerged from my desk drawer.. and now 12 years later, here I am, sharing my poems and stories around the world ..

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    1. Perhaps once we have lived through the things we were too afraid to tell, it becomes easier. That, or we have not let our past make us fear our future (that future being how someone could take in that poem). I think there is a greater good to it, especially when people know there are others out there who have gone through something similar, and that it’s okay to have and share these feelings and experiences.

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  6. I think quite a few of my writings are personal; I get around it by using third person narrative but sometimes I do it in first person as well.

    The good thing is my blog is quite secluded and I have few visitors (based on likes hahah) so it is the perfect place for me to pour out memories I’d like to immortalise in words. I’d have a tingly feeling of glee knowing I put something out there that means a lot to me, which is heightened by the ripe old age of not being too bothered by how many people read it or react to it. If someone chances upon it, or even likes it, well that’s affinity. 🙂

    That being said, even if you are publishing in a medium that is out there catching eyeballs, I believe it is still quite safe. So, go ahead with it!

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    1. I often create poetic “characters” in my head and then alternate with first and third person point of views, all stemmed from overwhelming emotions or feelings; and most of the time, there are memories connected there that I obscure. All this to say, I do something similar hahaha. 😀

      Oh wow, yeah that is the perfect situation to be honest. It feels safer that way, and I’m seeing there’s a common thread here of getting older and not giving as much of a shit what people think. Interesting! I want in on how to do this without going through the self-help books, you know? Hahaha, but alas, I’ll find my own way.

      But, you’re right. If someone does find it, maybe it creates a connection of some sort. Who knows? I’m not saying that there is a reason for everything, but perhaps some things do happen only for us to find out why later. Thank you so much for your insight and encouragement.

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  7. I have published poems with personal content, and then had second thoughts about them. However, I overcame my embarrassment and let them be. Having said that Lucy, I must admit that I’m still not ready to write about certain dark and disturbing things that took place in my childhood.

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    1. Dominic, I resonate with that and it makes me feel better about my own feelings concerning this topic. I think with certain pieces, there’s always that part of us that is selective; and sometimes, we really cannot let these pieces out in the world whether it is because of what it means to us or how it could be interpreted that engenders such overwhelming feelings. It’s a matter of being ready, and until then, there’s all the time in the world to come to that decision or not. That’s the beauty in it and it’s why I find it interesting how some view this process as letting go and not caring anymore at a certain point in life; I think it’s so intriguing how we all can contrast on this, and how we define letting go and then confronting the parts we may second-guess on if we even want revealed to the world. Added in with potential reactions, we always seek approval and acceptance. I think we should also face the possibility in how we would handle such reaction–would it worsen our mental state, would it make us reject our own work? I guess maybe there is a point we go past that and become truly comfortable where we can eventually handle the responses, but maybe there’s different levels of it and that comfortability; we can step forward and step back as it cannot be absolute. There really are no absolutes in life.

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  8. I can’t or won’t put out too much of myself when what I sometimes see in myself makes me cringe inside. So I deflect and distort till it becomes barely recognisable and frankly laughable. Healthy? Who knows? It works for me.

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    1. See, I think I do some of that too–deflect until it feels like it was no longer a part of me. I do put myself in nearly every poem I write, but I always ensure enough of the abstract where people generally can have a good assumption but still find it difficult to know exactly what I am referring to. Now is that healthy either? We’re in the same boat, friend. Pass me an oar, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll use it to patch up the hole in the middle of the floor. As long as it works and we’re happy with it, that’s the most important thing.

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  9. I think only you can judge. The novel I’m working on had a chapter which, in hindsight, was way to confronting and I had to alter it. I kind of regret that, but it was something which would have freaked the reader out

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    1. I think you’re right that the author, while being their own worst critic, can be their best judge on what works and what doesn’t, what makes them comfortable and what doesn’t. Scenes are even harder since you can’t always hide behind the figurative imagery of poetry.

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  10. Yes. A number of poems I’ve written years before seemed too personal to share. There are some that I do share and it feels great to let it out. I’m still not keen on some, just yet.

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  11. Yes, of course! I’ve posted a poem on my blog a few times then cringed over it the next day so I’ve removed it. I suppose it teaches you where your boundaries are and where you draw the line with yourself and others. But poetry is an art that allows for that more than any other and for that I’m grateful. In what other situation can you bare your soul to absolute strangers and then go home feeling better? Thanks for putting the question out there 🙂

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