Jul 27, 2018

I Rose Where I Fell

I spent years volunteering for every job placed in front of me. Church was the biggest abuser of my willingness to serve. One year my friend Debby and I made all the costumes for the Christmas pageant. There were a thousand excuses why no one could help, but plenty of criticism about everything from color of robe to length of belt. Debby and I worked until two and three in the morning sewing, adding trim, and researching the look of Roman uniforms to the ceremonial wear of the high priest. We wanted the clothing to look as authentic as we could produce on a nothing budget. People needed so I exhausted myself to the point of illness trying to fulfill whatever that need was.

Year upon year I pushed myself until I was literally empty. I slammed into that metaphorical wall and I was done. I realized I had to be my priority. I was tired of being tired from helping without help in return. I became my own protector. I learned to say no. I learned to say it without guilt. 

I Rose Where I Fell

I used to twirl
in everyone else’s dance
until I bled every drop
of my do into their won’t.

Pale as a sacrifice I rose
where I fell and drank
from the well of self.

Belittle, berate, I no
longer hesitate to
prioritize I before you.

©Susie Clevenger 2018


  1. Oh my god. I thought I loved your writing when I read "I was tired of being tired from helping without help in return." Then I got to the poem... So powerful! This is amazing. I love the feeling the verse gives me, and at the same time I'm in awe of the skill and craft of it ❤

    1. I'm right with you, Dainy. This is a power-giver. I suspect I was not the only one squealing.

  2. Few people (groups) are as efficient and ruthless at the art of leaving us empty than those who known that we won't say no. I have a close relative that has been doing the same to another one of our relatives for years. The hollowing is both physical and emotional, but the one being drained feels too guilty to say no--guilt can be such a whip. The last three sentences of the prose made me squeal.

    Now to the poem, yep! It brew a wee dance out of me. I actually did a little jig in front of the middle. To dance someone else's tune without truly enjoying the spin is no fun. Realizing that we must put our selves first (and doing it without feeling like we stepped on the tail of someone's puppy) is a gift.

    Here is to dancing!