“Not Waving but Drowning” is the most popular and well-known of Stevie Smith’s work for a good reason, as the trenchant feelings of sadness and isolation that the poem describes are familiar to so many. We can empathize with the dead man, as we have often been in the icy, menacing grip of loneliness ourselves. Most of us have been “much too far out” and have struggled to swim amidst feelings that we feel will surely overwhelm us.
The great calamity that the poem speaks to is the haunting isolation that we experience when we’re too far out and no one notices. We survive our pain, hiding it as we always have, perhaps by larking or fooling around, like the dead man in the poem. Whatever the pain is, we’ve learned to expect that no one will get it, that it will only disrupt or destroy relationships we really need. Much of the pain is so intolerable that it’s banished from our awareness, and the pain we do feel we dare not talk about. So even those we care about may think we’re waving when instead we’re suffering silently. The deadness we feel is heavy, unbearable.
A Way Forward Is Possible
If you feel like you’re drowning, there is hope. Through the unique power of human understanding, feelings that are so frightening and unbearable can be known, experienced, and borne. Their powerful grip can be loosened, allowing them to be integrated into the rich tapestry of your feelings and experiences. The fear that once governed the pain, that entrenched you in loneliness, can diminish with time so that you can live your life with more freedom and agency.
Let’s Talk – Set Up Your Free Consultation
If you’re reading this, then perhaps you’re considering therapy as a possible approach to your current concerns. The next step is to sit down with me and give it try, which might mean talking about some fears or questions you may have, especially if you’re new the process of therapy. During a free 15-minute consultation, I’ll attempt to answer all of your questions about myself and how we might work together, including concerns about the fee and using your insurance policy.
It would be a privilege for me to meet with you and begin to understand your present concerns. I serve the communities of Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Arcadia, Duarte, and Ventura. Please call me at (805) 256-3497 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your initial session or a free 15-minute consultation.