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Publishing vs. Exiling my "Prodigal Selves"

Prodigal Selves: Poems by Jeremy Fulwiler

I'd like to share a poem with you. But first a story.

As I was recently getting ready to announce my new (and first) book of poetry, "Prodigal Selves," I felt remarkably insecure and needy. All of a sudden I was in 9th grade again: desperately seeking security and affirmation, scared of being judged/seen/unseen/bullied, unknowingly hoping someone else would validate my whole existence.

"Present-Day Me" wanted to exile this insecure part of myself. Ugh, I didn't want to feel this fear and self-doubt again! (#GoAway) But after all these years, these feelings still come back. At the moment, I was thankfully with a trusted support who slowed me down as I threatened to shut this part of me off. Though I had an initial "allergic" reaction to sitting with this insecure part of me, I was then able to feel into and embody this place and let it speak.

Then something changed: feeling into the fear allowed me to support and welcome these old insecurities, to ensure myself that I have my own back, and remind myself that I am not alone. I could acknowledge the courage of showing up to reveal more of myself now, even though I've sometimes been hurt when I have revealed myself in the past (as my 9th grade self hasn't forgotten).

After publishing a book of poetry about welcoming "all of me from every day," I freely admit: I still struggle to do so. It is a living journey. And it is a journey that gives me more of my own life. It is sometimes: hard/easy/scary/delightful/all-of-the-above/none-of-the-above. It inspired this new book of poems. And here's the first one:

prodigal selves

i welcome you

i welcome you all

all of me from every day

every day of pain

and confusion

every day of curiosity



and enrapturement

every day of hatred



and rage

i welcome you from every day there ever was

every day that is today

and every day that ever there will be

open arms

no questions asked

no rationale required

i am here


for you

all of me from every single day

there is room

for us all

*Prodigal Selves: Poems is available on and


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