(Not) Special by Erin Harer

Even in my darkest lost places

It felt worth it

To be special.

Even on the days I knew

That my choices had become expensive

Even then

It felt worth it

To be special-



Pulsating brilliance through my veins

Profound in ways that even if missed by the world, mattered still.

One day a doctor knocked on my door and gave me a bottle of kindness.

It stole the darkness

Torched the lost places

And sent me home.

But is it worth it

To be not special?

To open fresh eyes to a world where I was never great?

Nor unflinchingly strong or kind

Not brave

Just sick?

Is it worth it to know

I will never be special?

Trading fragile breath for sleep

A genius on the precipice

Of never becoming


My daughter’s soft shoulders answer me.

It is worth it.

Even if everyone else misses me.

Even if they think the best parts of me are gone.

Even if so do I.

I look at her and know it is worth it

To see her through a lens not filtered by false eyes.

It is worth it

To be less than ordinary.

To have the world see me as such, if they see me at all.

It is worth it to be back down, here on Earth

Holding her hand

Not the other way around.

It is worth it

Boring and muted


And cold.

I know it is worth it

To be not special.


Erin Harer is a Northern California writer whose work explores the universal themes of love, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit. When she’s not writing, you can find her driving on the back roads of Sonoma County, eating cheese with her daughter, or petting dogs.

Poet’s Instagram: @erin.harer

Website: erinharer.com


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


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