I was watching the Wimbledon finals at the weekend and during a little video collage about Serena Williams run to the final, she was heard reading a poem that apparently she likes to think of for inspiration. It’s a very beautiful but moving ode that is clearly about the repression black people felt (still feel?) and how someone as strong as Serena has overcome it all to become a truly amazing and inspiring woman. The poem is by Maya Angelou and is called Still I rise. I have actually thought about it a lot since the weekend and despite it being entirely irrelevant to me (I am neither black nor have won Wimbledon) I still love it.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Now, I normally hate poetry. I have never read a poem that has moved me in the slightest until this weekend just gone when I heard this and this has made me think that I want a poem that I can go to when I need a bit of motivation. I think I have felt extremely tired and drained recently. Jude has been exceedingly difficult at times and I don’t ever get any let up or time to myself. I’m stressed about a zillion things and I feel a bit like I’m slowly drowning. It’s not a nice feeling and one I know I’m strong enough to get out of but it isn’t easy. If I had a pound for every time someone told me how strong I am, I’d be laughing all the way to Barbados right now…
You have to be strong to have a disabled child. If you aren’t strong to begin with then you certainly learn to be soon enough! I think I’ve always been a strong individual however, being this way comes at a cost and to be honest, I don’t want to be strong all the time. I want to just have an easy ride for a while, just a break from the savagery of day to day life. I want to be able to not worry for a few minutes of a day, not worry about how the evening bedtime will be, how the weekend will pan out, how the visit from family will go. These are things parents of disabled children have on their minds permanently. Or is this just me?
I know that’s a very negative attitude but despite all my massive efforts, this is how I feel at the moment. I need something amazing to happen in my life to snap me out of this rut! To be fair to Jude, I think most of my tiredness is down to Emmeline and her inability to function unless she is in arms reach of me; “clingy” doesn’t quite cover how she is at the moment.
But anyway, I really want and possibly a poem in my life so if anyone has a suggestion then please let me know. I’ve been having a look today but am so far uninspired. I want something like the above by Maya Angelou but relevant to me and my situation. Do you have anything that you turn to for motivation or inspiration? I think it’s important when your life is particularly tough, to have some sort of support that is personal and uplifting to you, that helps you build your strength back up. I used to read a lot as a way of enforcing inspiration and as a bit of escapism from the real world when it was being particularly tough. I have a few favourites that I frequently return to; they feel like a comfort blanket that I already know and understand, that is familiar and warming to my insides. They are…anything by Penny Vincenzi, Much Ado about Nothing or Pride and Prejudice. Love them all.
So tell me, do you feel you’re a strong person? Has anyone helped build your strength up so you feel supported enough with the difficulties brought on by having a disabled child?
I would LOVE to hear from you, disabled child or not. It matters not. A x