My brain and heart divorced - a poem by John Roedel

a black hand holds a red rose | putting yourself first | Tempo Therapy and Consulting

25 Jan 2023

So many of us in helping roles struggle to put ourselves first. For so long, our roles at home, at work and in the community have urged us ever forward in support of others. We have whispered to ourselves, 'but this person is so much more in need...', 'I have so much...', or just pushed on through without realising what we lose. This poem articulates so well the struggle between the different parts of us, and highlights the disconnect that so often occurs. I invite you to take a moment of gentleness with yourself in reading this poem by John Roedel.

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my brain and
heart divorced

a decade ago

over who was
to blame about
how big of a mess
I have become

they couldn't be
in the same room
with each other

now my head and heart
share custody of me

I stay with my brain
during the week

and my heart
gets me on weekends

they never speak to one another

- instead, they give me
the same note to pass
to each other every week

and their notes they
send to one another always
says the same thing:

"This is all your fault"

on Sundays
my heart complains
about how my
head has let me down
in the past

and on Wednesday
my head lists all
of the times my
heart has screwed
things up for me
in the future

they blame each
other for the
state of my life

there's been a lot
of yelling - and crying


lately, I've been
spending a lot of
time with my gut

who serves as my
unofficial therapist

most nights, I sneak out of the
window in my ribcage

and slide down my spine
and collapse on my
gut's plush leather chair
that's always open for me

~ and I just sit sit sit sit
until the sun comes up

last evening,
my gut asked me
if I was having a hard
time being caught
between my heart
and my head

I nodded

I said I didn't know
if I could live with
either of them anymore

"my heart is always sad about
something that happened yesterday
while my head is always worried
about something that may happen tomorrow,"
I lamented

my gut squeezed my hand

"I just can't live with
my mistakes of the past
or my anxiety about the future,"
I sighed

my gut smiled and said:

"in that case,
you should
go stay with your
lungs for a while,"

I was confused
- the look on my face gave it away

"if you are exhausted about
your heart's obsession with
the fixed past and your mind's focus
on the uncertain future

your lungs are the perfect place for you

there is no yesterday in your lungs
there is no tomorrow there either

there is only now
there is only inhale
there is only exhale
there is only this moment

there is only breath

and in that breath
you can rest while your
heart and head work
their relationship out."

this morning,
while my brain
was busy reading
tea leaves

and while my
heart was staring
at old photographs

I packed a little
bag and walked
to the door of
my lungs

before I could even knock
she opened the door
with a smile and as
a gust of air embraced me
she said

"what took you so long?"

Poem by John Roedel.

I have shared this poem as an invitation for you to connect within.

This is not easy when we have become habituated to busyness and keeping on.

If you'd like to explore ways to connect in, or if you need support to do so, please contact me for a chat or a 15 minute free virutal cuppa.

Alternateively, you might like to try this free video series: '3 minutes to calm'

Go well and be gentle with yourself,


Header image: Alyssa Sieb