Category Archives: Trauma Recovery Poetry

Abuse, Chronic Illness, and Positive Thinking



Photo by LPHR Group

I study positive thinking books.
Take in and apply what they say.
Using affirmations as an eraser.
Obliterate the ugliness of my past.
I work hard at this laborious task
believing I can change my thinking
and change my life.
Holding fast to the idea that I am capable
of washing my past right out of my mind.


Naysayers assert that affirmations
are useless
a fantasy
an illusion
prevent real action
create a blame game
and all manner of other proclamations.
I do disagree.
Then I think, “So what if they are right!”
Affirmations help me cope.
Positive thinking gives me a sense of control.
My past was overwhelming.
My present does not have to be.

Opposing ideas roll around in my psyche.
I’ve always believed in life itself
a rich life full of love
much more than my history
would grant me.

Deep within me are beliefs
planted by mom and bullies far and wide.
Destructive and dark thoughts
leftover from a childhood that haunts me
with its awfulness.
“Don’t let your light shine”
“Don’t let people see you happy”
“Stay invisible”
“Fail because failure is easier than her wrath”
A pratfall is a better idea
than facing mom’s most positively creative acts
of psychological violence on my personhood.

When I’m in a medical crisis
an illness flare up
I use Louise Hay’s Heal Your Body
looking up the symptoms I experience
then I say those affirmations over and over
hoping to take some degree of control over
things that feel more powerful than me.
As always, there is a theme to my condition.
A mental script that heralds my past again.

Research shows that childhood pain
can come out in the body.
It’s pain I reject
ideas I don’t want
a history I wish to re-write.
Different parts of my body all saying the same thing.

I want to change these ideas
wash them right out of my being
I’ve spent my life dedicated to this task
getting rid of mom
and the influence of her feelings toward me.
And those bullies
all those bullies
whose motives are unknown.
Let’s erase them too from my world.

So, I wake up each day
open the book of affirmations
look up each and every current yelling body part
and say the affirmation corresponding to it.
In extreme situations throughout the day
with pain beyond measure
I turn to the book
and chant the affirmation on pain
over and over and over.

Body memory is deep
and bites back
As I laugh and love and enjoy my life
my body remembers what my mind wants to forget.
But my body is mistaken.
Mom was wrong.
The bullies were stupid.
Life is to be lived.
We all have value.

And so I repeat:
I lovingly release the past.
They are free and I am free
All is well in my heart now.“*
Believing firmly that I can erase
the impact of my history.
I cannot go back in time
nurture the girl I was
I cannot prevent or erase the past.

I can throw the past backward into history.
Not allow the past to intrude on today.
I have to work diligently at this task.
It takes effort to have a life worth living
experience success
reach my goals
be happy.
I think that effort is worth it.

*Affirmations from Louise Hay’s Heal Your Body

Contact me if you’d like to change your thinking.


Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

My Broken Vase

A dream has haunted meStillleben_mit_Schachteln,_1941
for days and days.
A nuanced dream
with many layers
all singing me a message
that I am refusing to hear.
Covering my ears
closing my eyes
an ostrich head in the sand.
A teenager fighting the world
resisting and rolling my eyes
fluffing my hair
in a posture of outrage.

My late husband bought me
a dusty teal colored vase
with a crochet flower bouquet
full of memories of fun
and freedom.
I often look at that vase
with fondness
of my life well lived.

I gasped in my dream
as the vase dropped to the floor
breaking into pieces
too small
too many to fix.
Grieving, I awoke.
Mourning, I think, the vase
and the life that is no more.

But, wait, look, think.
The crochet flowers remain whole
sitting there on the floor
In the middle of all those broken pieces.
Whole flowers
needing a good cleaning
and some tender loving care.
Undamaged flowers making me think.

The only sure thing in life is change.
As long as I breathe
live on this side of the dirt
life will happen.
When the sun shines
rain will eventually fall.
And back again to the sun.
With laughter, prepare for tears
and tears for laughter.
Vases we love will break.
Maybe the flowers within
will survive.

We live in the middle of life’s changes.
I’m here
and not always well.
I will adapt
I can live a full life
no matter what happens.
I’ll be the flower that remains.
Yes, I will.

Contact me for life coaching about the changes in your life.


Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Painting by Felix Nussbaum ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The White Box


Last night I dreamed of a white porcelain box.
I’m inside this box
that is the color white
all up and down
perhaps even inside and out.
I don’t know how I know
but I know it’s porcelain.
Smooth and cold
preventing me from finding purchase
stability or getting effective motion.

I don’t know why I’m in that box.
No reason.
It just is
like maybe my lot in life.
The way things are supposed to be.
But I don’t like it
not a little bit
not at all.

I’m a rebel, you see.
Angry, defiant saying “NO” loudly.
It’s good, I think, that I’m a rebel
refusing to comply
not cooperative
aggravating those people
who really are not human.
Instead, they are monsters.
Monsters who’d put a little girl
inside an all white porcelain box.

Sometimes I give up.
Tired of fighting and just rest in the box.
At other times, I’m energized by my anger
and fight the box
looking for a way out.
Is this box a metaphor?
It could be a memory.
I don’t know.
It could be the way I feel
sometimes when I cannot seem to move forward
when I’m stuck in my life
and nothing I do seems to work.

A memory, maybe
a flashback of the monsters who harmed me.
recalling being stuck and trapped
unable to get out
too small
too weak
without the skills to fight and win
just enough talent to frustrate them
enrage them
change me from an easy victim
to one almost too difficult to bother with.

A reminiscence that’s a trap in itself.
Reminding me I cannot win
taunting me with the overwhelming force
of my opposition.
Stripping me of the will to persist
my ability to resist.
I still exist and remain willful
stuck, maybe, but with a determination
to get out of that box in my mind
to escape the snare monsters made for me
decimate the net that drops on me when life is difficult.

I think maybe patience is in order
slow and steady, like a tortoise
the one in the fable that wins the race
over a foolishly confident bully.
Yes, that’s it.
I’ll remain that tortoise
not giving up
tackling that box
until the door opens
even if it’s a door in my mind
ideas that need to open
for freshness and freedom.

In my dream, there was a space on the right side
of what looked a door.
Maybe I can press that
even if I press it over and over.
I woke from my dream
and mentally tore that box apart
putting each and every shred of porcelain
in a mental commercial waste container
an orange metal box large enough to contain
each and every part of that dreaded box.
I’ll find my way to freedom.
I can escape the shadow of monsters.
Yes, I can.
I will. I can.
I will.

Contact me for a coaching appointment to leave old hurtful thoughts behind you.


Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Forget You, I’m Not Broken!

celebrating successIt hurts me in the center of my being
when people insist they are broken.
I get all riled up when the beautiful souls
that you are
glamorize being shattered inside.
I’m actually offended by this ideal
this new meme
it’s a song
a shallow Facebook image
for everyone to ‘like’
or ‘love’
a quote for us to comment on
a poem said with a <sigh>
and maybe even some dramatic
back of the hand to your forehead.

This trivializes what really happens
It steals your energy
it takes your drive
wears you down
and stops you
from overcoming
discarding what was
absolutely done to you.
We should not cherish the damage
done by evil acts.
We should not elevate suffering
done by others to an ideal.

consent violation
even horror
whatever we want to call these things
is despicable in my view.
I’m not despicable
nor are you
and you and you.

I fight my own fight against suffering
caused by depraved and villainous demons.
I cannot say this strongly enough.
I reject anguish as identity.
I refuse to accept that this is me
No, no, no and NO!
I will not accept that
ugly, malevolent assholes
took a permanent marker
to my essence.

I’m selfish.
I want your refusal too.
I want company on this path
friends on my journey
a powerful demonstration
with signs and banners
that proclaim
Neener, neener, neener”
“You lose”
“I win.”

I say fight
throw this off
don’t cherish the hurt.
It hurts, it truly does
to be sucker punched
in the center of your being.
At first, it feels like a raw sore
in your essence.
Later, a familiar companion
that aches and aches and aches some more.

Refusing to be broken also hurts.
Fighting a fight for your life is difficult.
But living in the wrongness of
what was done to you and me
is harder
hurts worse
and lasts til infinity.
In the end
the work it takes
to shed the damage
hurts less
much less.
That’s a promise.

I’ve thought long and hard
on how to answer the critics
of my take on brokenness
how it offends people who are broken.
Finally, I am shouting
It’s a choice.
Your choice.
Mine is to fight for my right
to live a full and very rich life
no matter what was done to me.

Forget you,
I’m not broken.
It’s a choice.
I choose to be unbroken.
Please join me
in my revolt.

Contact me to reach for your version of wholeness.


Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2016 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.


Trauma in the Countryside

Trigger Warnings: Symptoms of PTSD Described

A silence loudly awakened me.
The electricity went out.
The fan went off.
The clock went dark.
The air conditioning joined them.
Nightlights turned themselves off.

Country living at it’s best.
Almost asleep and every sound
in the house loudly clicked off.
The electricity went off again.
And my feelings joined it.

The electricity went off
and I became electric.
The fan stopped turning
and my mind began to spin.
The clock went dark
and my mind sent up flares.
The air conditioning joined them
and my mind created holes
big enough for air to condition.
Nightlights turned off
and I began to smother.

Left over from abuse
PTSD in fine form
overwhelming feelings.

We planned for this.
Planned and prepared
to take care of me
knowing how I am
about the dark, dark, dark.

Flashlights near every chair, check.
Battery operated candles, yep.
Flashlight on the iPhone, present.
Reading material in sync on all devices, done.
Small power source charged up.
Generator purchased and available.
Practical coping strategized to infinity.
Plans galore to care for my inner bruised child.

We forgot about my body.
The physical symptoms of PTSD
an exaggerated startle response
existing on alert
and scanning for danger.
Almost asleep and the
electricity went out.
My body became electrified
jumping at every thought
reacting to every sound
not conducive to sleep.

Self-soothing. That’s it.
That’s what I’ll do.
Breathe deeply all the way down
into my churning abdomen.
Talk to my inner child.
I’m safe. You are safe.
See the white light surrounding you.
Visualize the light.
Lots of healing, safe, protecting light.
Finally, I calmed my body down
slowly drifting into sleep.
Drifting, floating, relaxing, finding peace
and a sense of safety.


The electricity loudly turned itself back on.
I jumped when the fan came on.
I startled as the lights on the clock came back.
I was alarmed when the air conditioning came on.
And reacted as the nightlights turned on.
Country living at it’s best.
Almost asleep and every sound
in the house loudly clicked ON.

Contact me to discuss practical coping strategies:


Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Painting, The Silence, by Henry Fuseli [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s Not Fair!

256px-rippl_sorrowI was going to write a poem today.
A sulking feeling sorry for myself poem.
Tell the world how justified
I am to feel this way.
Yes, I was.

I think life should be all
rainbows, unicorns and don’t forget the glitter.
Good people should categorically, decisively
always win out in the end.

Bad people should fall down,
get zits on the end of their noses
have ugly hair
fail utterly
suffer the slings and arrows
of their own making.

But I’m not a poet, really I’m not.
And, no matter how childishly young I feel inside
I have grown into my 71 years of age
carving wisdom out of the fiber of my being
with hard-won personal growth.
Sanity says I’m going to laugh at myself soon.
Prudence advises me I need to feel these feelings.

There is still a little child inside me.
A child who worked so very hard
to grow up and be okay.
She’s a good girl.
A diligent one doing all her tasks
almost to perfection.
Faces adversity and smacks it in the face.
Using tribulation as motivation.
Sticks her tongue out at wrongness
using the sum of it all to help others.

That girl, that little girl
wanted above all else
to feel safe in the world.
Not just safe from bad people
but safe from bad luck
so-called acts of God
earthquakes, financial reverses
and don’t forget
safe from bugs.

Sneaky little girl she is,
she thought she’d figure it all out
somehow control life itself.
There must be a mystery somewhere.
A rule book that teaches you how to
win the game of life.

There really are those rule books.
Popular psychology books in libraries
counselors offices
now available on the Internet!
She read them all,
devoured them even.
Learned each new skill and
used them diligently.
Yes, she did.
She’s wise beyond her years
and knows how to do this
as well as that life thing.
Conquering everything
she never learned at home.

It’s absolutely positively
not fair that life itself
is not controllable
and bad things happen
to good people
and to people
who’ve had too many bad things
in their lives already.

I was going to write a poem about all
the bad things that happened to me
until I saw a middle aged man
walking across a parking lot.
Head bowed
shoulders slouched down
steps slowed
defeat rolling over him.
Crushed by life he seemed.
So very sad.

The grown up woman knew.
The inner child knew.
The idealist knew.
Even the girl holding fairy dust knew.
Life might have been fair to me
after all.

That man held my truth in his posture.
That defeated man illustrated my life lesson.
All that fight I put into life held me in good stead.
All that gargantuan knowledge carved from life
makes a difference.
All that grit, spirit still present
means something important
about me
to me.

My head is high.
My shoulders still intact.
My walk, even with my cane, is strong.
I’m still in this game of life
living my life to the fullest.
Maybe not everything I want,
but I’m alive and strong inside.
I have not been defeated.
I haven’t lost out.
It means that for right now
This day, I’m a winner.
Yes, yes. I am.

Contact me:


Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.


Shame: Banish An Unwanted Guest

joy-1350035_1280A burning feeling
grabs hold of us
sits inside our inner most being
weighs us down
attacks our thoughts
steals our energy
savages our hope
tells us awful ideas
reminds us of our mistakes
every single mistake
we have ever made
in all their fullness
every shameful circumstance
feelings and gory detail

An unwanted guest
old, smelly, unwashed and dirty
false teeth sticking out in jest
farting without thought
boogers unnoticed hanging out of his nose
wrinkled odorous clothes
embarrassing us by her existence
humiliation been around
mortification seen this
loss of face done that
self-disgust strangling us with the tee-shirt.

It’s a shame
our minds tell us
hateful self-talk
thinking ourselves sad
creating our own tragedy
living in unnecessary mental misery
remembering every awkward moment
ruminating over every failure
re-experiencing every bully
wallowing in every helpless moment.

Banish that unwanted guest
uninvite him or her and them
It IS more difficult to describe success
a newborn in all her glory
young, sweet, and clean
hope surrounding her.
Mistakes become normal
errors are joyful for the trying
skills developing
newness of life
fresh energy
hope of great things to come.

It’s better to brag
than to shame
esteem and success
a cheering band
a bouquet of balloons
and flowers
each attempt
each try
for something better
honor myself
take pride in my efforts
praise what I’m doing
look carefully for the tracks
of all that work
it is enough.

Contact me to banish your unwanted shame.


Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.


the_rage_of_achilles_by_giovanni_battista_tiepoloHidden anger exists inside me
out of sight behind my smile
masked by my unique form of denial.
Positive thoughts
the hand carved train sitting proudly on my desk
with the poster above it
saying, “I think I can, I think I can”
me saying, “Yes I can!”

Affirmations chanted
prayers even
cutesy sayings on the wall
“Be patient…God isn’t finished with me YET!!”

oh, all the things I can find to be grateful for
flourishing houseplants growing along the wall
the tortoise paperweight to remind me
that slow and steady wins the race.

How much anger causes a person to erupt?
Erupting in a flash of lightning.

Price paid willingly coping with decades of abuse
thoughtfully being nice
fear of being just like them
a movie villain with an excuse.

“It’s your fault,” they say.
“If you hadn’t done those things to me,
I’d be a good person.”
Not me,
I’m a good person now.

It costs to be a good person
no random killing people
not even bad people
people who deserve it
abusive assholes
even ordinary drivers
who cut you off on the highway
no rocket launcher in the car.

The list of bad people is endless
how many wrong things can people
do to a person
before they turn into a bad person themselves?

It costs to be a good person
no punching that doctor
cannot slap that nurse
blow up that laboratory
you know, the one that
poured out the urine sample
instead of testing it.

It costs to be a good person
no nasty emails
no letters my truth contained within
find a different way to fight
the wrongness of what others have done to me.

What to do with that rage?
I’ve been thinking of trying this poetry thing
maybe finding some way of venting my fury
that harms no one
leaves me feeling satiated
and maybe even helps another.

Yep, that’s an idea I think I might try
it costs to be a good person.

Feel free to contact me or comment on this poem and the issues involved. Use the comment box below.

Contact me:


Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2016 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.


Ode to A Bully

cyber-bullying-122156_640I don’t make friends with people
who try to harm me
not now
not ever
you taught me that.

Born the same year to sisters
who loved each other
we could have been friends
as close as they were
spending all that time together.

You and I side by side
together in cribs
side by side in strollers
playing in the yard
in the house
at the park
in the wading pool.

Playing games together
me oblivious of your bullying
jumping rope
card games
board games

I could not grasp your soul sickness
until I was way grown.
I still don’t understand how you came to be the way
you are.

I didn’t see gaslighting
mean girl
dark spirit in your soul.

I can not to this day
the tricks you played
using other children
to harm me.

I thought the problem was MINE
that I should be somehow better.

If I was
just different
we’d become the friends we had been born to be.

I was wrong.
The sickness belongs to you
with every advantage
whatever accoutrements you might possibly have needed.

What is wrong with you
that you did what did?

What was your motivation?
If envy, what
did you envy?

Was it competition?
Did you think that I
without those advantages
family support
could possibly overshadow you?

Did you fear me and imagine
I was as ugly inside as you
plotting to take whatever
you thought you had from you?

What possibly could have been inside you
that deep to create such evil in your depths?
What pains you today that you remain so defective?
What do I have now that you want to take?

I broke your hold on me
I left you behind
moved away
created a life
without you to torment me.

Obsession must drive you
trying mean girl baby tricks
at your age.
Obsession blinds you
keep trying to pull on that rope
I broke many years ago.

Your tricks no longer work on me
you know so little about me
you cannot set up the game
and be the winner
just a sad mean girl.

We could have been friends
as close as sisters
I am a good friend
a loving person
but you
you are not friend material.

I’m sorry for you
you had your chance
to be in my life
but you are twisted inside
and must be so very lonely.

I don’t make friends with people
who try to harm me
not now
not ever
you taught me that.

I Have A New Goal and There is a Ghost Over My Shoulder

abseilen_jumelleI have a new goal
oh, boy
it’s a good one too
a risky risk
a delicious venture
maybe I’ll take a trip
ride a motorcycle
make a new friend
enroll in a class
jump out of an airplane
go dancing
or zip lining
swing from a vine in the jungle

Yep, I can do that
I can do anything
I set my mind to do
yes I can
just ask me
I’ll tell you
but first
first I have to face the ghost
hovering over my shoulder

A ghost from the past
that snide voice telling me
of dangers far and wide
snakes and spiders
bumps and bruises
torments and intimidations
images of defeat
thoughts of disappointment
people who might laugh at me
people who have laughed at me
all for daring
yes daring to reach more

I want to disappear that ghost
make it evaporate
go away
stop bothering me
once and for all
eradicate every bad memory
every mental script
all the hurts and memories
forget the pain of my past
just decide to let it go
poof, it’s gone.

If only life worked that way
poof, it’s gone
and that was it, YAY!
I’ve thought and thought and thought some more
Looked at this six ways from Sunday
and back again
Set a goal
took it back
and set it all over again

I’ve been smart
and not so clever at all.
Done my homework
researched it all
and played ostrich for a while
talked about my goals
and kept them secret
made excuses
and bucked myself up
exhausting myself in the what if’s

I just have to remember
to include me in this experience
all of me, not just parts I like
me, myself and I
and the ghost that hovers over my shoulder
my personal history
all my wild and woolly feelings
old tapes
destructive mental scripts
shouting, “you cannot do that
memories of jeering bullies
and abusive people
who no longer have the ability
to actually stop me

Feel the feelings
and do it anyway
take the action steps
make them really great baby steps
instead of big flamboyant ginormous leaps
telling myself what a good girl am I
walk out the inevitable flashback
putting one more ugly memory
in a big, big hefty trash bag
making a point of celebrating the success
of letting bad memories go from my being

I can use proper self-care
with compassion and warmth
making a big deal out of
each and every risk I take
celebrating my own efforts
I can remind myself
the risks are spaced out
in each baby step
not in the entire goal
I CAN so do this
all of it
really I can
I can eradicate that ghost of my past
one teeny tiny step at a time.

Photo by Bertrand Semelet [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (, via Wikimedia Commons

Feel free to contact me or comment on this poem and the issues involved.

©2016 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.