Tread Gently on my Heart

Night cannot drive out night
Only the light above
Fear cannot drive out fear
Only love

My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay

Tread gently on my heart.

It is there that I carefully hide all that was and is me. My story is there.

It is a deep place with many compartments.

Some parts I enter often. Parts where the sun shines and the air is gentle and kind. These are like playrooms full of good things and happy memories. I am okay in there. The posters on the wall say ‘Well Done: You are Significant: You Belong”. Happiness fills me and I find deep consolation.

You are welcome to join me there to play and explore together.

There are other compartments without windows where I file away my shame, pain, hurt and regrets. There is darkness but no door. The air is heavy. I find it hard to breathe and I am not okay. I choose to go there sometimes when desolation draws me in. The posters on the wall confirm my sense of hopelessness and helplessness – “You don’t belong: You are worthless: A failure”.

Sometimes I might take you there if I feel I can trust you to look and not judge.

But sometimes the darkness erupts like a volcano and I spew out angry words and behaviour. I blame you, anyone, everyone for the darkness. I am sorry.

But there is another part deep in the deepest part of me with a door that is locked and bolted. I don’t know if there is a key and I cannot clearly remember exactly what is inside. But I know from the chill of fear that grips me that this is a bad place. This room holds the secrets of my undoing.

No one goes there, not even me.

So if you want to help me, tread gently on my heart and don’t judge me. Do not think I will let you go where I fear to go myself.

This is my heart, my choices, my story.

Love me first. Then I might trust you.

And as you love me, encourage me that one day I will find the key that lets love and light in.


I will present you
if you are patient and tender.
I will open drawers
that mostly stay closed
and bring out places and people and things,
sounds and smells, love and frustrations, hopes and sadnesses,
bits and pieces of three decades of life
that have been grabbed off
in chunks
and found lying in my hands.
They have eaten
their way into my memory,
carved their way into
my heart.
Altogether – you or I will never see them –
they are me.
If you regard them lightly,
deny that they are important
or worse, judge them, I will quietly, slowly,
begin to wrap them up,
in small pieces of velvet,
like worn silver and gold jewellery,
tuck them away
in a small wooden chest of drawers

and close.

Taken from ‘How do you Feel? A Guide to your Emotions’ by John Wood, 1974

* * * * * *

Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness
will we discover the infinite power of light
Brené Brown

Jesus said, ’I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’
John 8:12

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