Look Deeper by Craig Wagner

At times my vision is shallow and short-sighted as I see my loved-one cope with the challenges we label mental illness.
At times through shallow eyes I see a future stunted, my loved-one’s possibilities not fully realized.
But then I look deeper.
There I see unnecessary expectations created by me, held by me, and fully releasable by
There I see good in today’s actualities, somewhat hidden perhaps, but free of the
………..prejudgment of my favored possibilities.

At times through shallow eyes I see pain unrelenting in the chaos of the unexpected and
But then I look deeper.
There I see and coalesce my strength, knowing my loved-one manages pain and
………..difficulties much more acute than my own.
There I see comfort in controlling what I can control, influencing what I can influence. ………..Knowing that can be enough.
There I see a stream of moments: each an opportunity to find contentment in loving,
……Even if those be the odd loves of allowing the one I cherish to painfully fall,
……Or keeping myself at a painful distance from the one I long to hold near.

At times through shallow eyes I see guilt deserved for the mistakes I made that may have
contributed to my loved-one’s pain.
But then I look deeper.
There I see the natural messiness of life, where mistakes will invariably be made.
There I see my ability to forgive myself for nothing more than garden-variety human frailty.
There I see my resolve to do the best I know how to do now, regardless of what has ………..happened in the past.

At times through shallow eyes I see my loved-one as irreparably broken.
But then I look deeper.
There I see my loved-one whole and intact, worthy and good, sharing in my desire for
There I see a hope in a therapy not yet tried, in a kind word not yet spoken, in an hour ………..not yet arrived.
There I see a beauty, not broken, not diminished, not missing, but shrouded in a scrim of

We can work together to pierce this scrim if and only if we recognize the stunning value of what lies beneath it.

I choose to look deeper.
I choose to help my loved-one and others similarly struggling.

I choose to help, not to compensate for their weakness, but to supplement their strengths.
I choose to help, not to bend them to my ideas of recovery, but to liberate them to express the ………..profound goodness they are.
I choose to help, not because I must, but because I can.

I choose to look deeper because I choose to recognize the human treasure trove at stake.

I ask, “What do you choose?”


Back to Poetry


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.