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Exhausted by 8

They say it to me

Trying to help

Trying to be kind

Trying to instill hope.

But it does the opposite

Suctioning hope like a vacuum,

I’m left with nothing but an indictment

An indictment when it turns out I can’t.

“You can do it.”

The four words act like a hydraulic press

Crushing my spirit

Crushing my hope

Crushing my soul

Because sometimes

Most times, really,

I can’t.

“Stand up and sit down as many times as you can in 30 seconds.”









And times up.

Heart beat racing,

agony in my legs.

I did it.

But the consequences of doing it:

Sleeping for 58 hours of the next 72 hours

A Straight 18 hours after doing those 8 chair squats.

“You can do it.”

It bashes the remaining hope I have

I’m not sleeping anymore,

I’m “recovered.”

It feels like my shoulders are being ripped out of their sockets

The weight,

The weight of a 500 pound suit of armor

The literal heaviness my body feels from nothing but gravity

It’s like I’m on a planet with 50 times more gravity than Earths.

That feels less crushing than those 4 words.

We would never say, “you can do it”

To a person with AIDS referring to curing it themselves

To a person with cancer to just exercise the cancer away

To a person with muscular dystrophy who can’t walk to walk.

Yet we say it all the time.

It’s “you can do it.”

Our society’s mantra that crushes the spirits of those of us who can’t.

Because here’s the thing

If they decide “you can do it,”

But you can’t “do it,”

Then it is your fault that you “couldn’t do it.”

It’s a personal indictment

a personal failure,

you fail.

The phrase is not meant to be that

But that is what it is all the same.

Because I might be able to right now

But pacing is a thing that has to be done.

I can do it now,

But what are the consequences for later?

“You can do it.”

That phrase should be relegated and quarantined like the n-word and the r-word.

It is an agony to me

Because before I got sick,

I could do it.

But I can’t.

And even when I can,

I shouldn’t

The consequences are severe.

But they say it all the same,

“You can do it.”


That is my answer.


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Thank you for your post. You bring clarity with your poetry to a concept that healthy individuals seem unable to comprehend. I hope well intentioned family and friends are better able to understand after reading your poem. I hope you share more of your eloquent writing.

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04. Juli 2019

This is FANTASTIC. Poetic, simple, yet deeply effective. We are so happy this is being brought to the surface and the world needs to know!

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