Stand by me

A poem by Jo McFarlane

When I was broken, on my knees,
silenced by the weight of living,
on the brink of giving up,
an advocate came by
and deftly opened up my voice
by listening, simply listening.
Soon the cage became a key,
the words ran free
and hope took root within me.

Together we unravelled all the knots,
sought clarity in breaking down the problem,
put the jigsaw back together in a workable solution.

Ready now to voice my vision
to the doctors, nurses looking after me,
I asked my advocate to stand beside me
as I still felt vulnerable and small,
faced with an impenetrable wall
of professional power.

We walked into the meeting, took our place.
I saw respect light up the faces of my gaolers
as I spoke the words, tentative at first,
then full of confidence, conviction
as they soon began to listen.
My advocate sat quietly by my side,
didn’t have to interject
but for the blanks in memory
caused by the haze of medication.

We came to a solution
which I felt I could accept with grace.
I didn’t get discharged as I had hoped
but in the course of being listened to
my gaolers had become my carers
and the treatment plan became a contract
which empowered me.

By standing with me on the journey
my advocate had helped to set me free.
I left the ward soon after with my head held high
because the roots of confidence and hope
she planted in me now had grown into a tree.