I didn’t know how I’d feel after sharing my last entry, and in part it was an experiment, I’m working on a memoir at present and when published so much of my life, and the hidden shame of it, will be public, open to scrutiny and appraisal. This blog is a test run, to see how I cope with such open access to my most personal struggles, and the invitation this brings for comment and query. So far people have been very kind, and when I read comments about being brave or having courage to share such personal experiences it’s hard to accept, I don’t feel brave, in many way’s I feel quite selfish, as this journey through writing is mainly about helping myself, not to be the best writer I can be, but to be the best of me. I’m writing as a form of self-help, and so far that writing has been solely for my benefit and viewing, I do hope that going public with my experiences may help others in some shape or form though, by illuminating my experience I hope to reach others in the dark, to show it’s possible to reclaim the power that shame eroded and destroyed, to turn something ugly into something beautiful, I call it the alchemy of affliction.
“It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.” AESOP
Posting my last piece was also a statement to myself, this year you will acknowledge this, this year you will welcome the feelings the date brings, you will not deny, distort or cover it up with blind optimism. This year you are allowed to feel whatever you feel, and I did. June 11th will always be significant, as significant as any birth or death. It’ll always be the day I choose to end two lives, the day that nearly ended my life too, the day where my dark side opened up and asked me to follow, the day when hope started to fade and the colour of life too. I’m painfully aware from reading journal entries of this time how I was avoiding my true feelings. I write so flippantly about it all which makes me shake my head and exhale abruptly, and when I read the brief words, ‘went ok at hospital, feels right, so that’s reassuring, no guilt, thanks cosmos’, I smile, a knowing smile resigned to what is to come. I feel sadness for that person, the one trying to put on a brave face and be the positive and optimistic person she’s always been. I always cope, I always find a way forward, there is so much going on as I attempt to take control and direct my life again, reading between the lines tells a much different picture, and the years that follow certainly validate that. As I read the efforts I’m making in manic fashion to establish some life for myself, some belonging and purpose I can’t help but laugh a little, I know where this will end, at the time I had no idea of the places my life would take me, and the mask of optimism was so firmly in place that I couldn’t even admit there was any pain, that effort at denial only delayed the reaction, but it was already in process, like a goaded bull, there was no stopping now.
“If fate means you to lose, give him a good fight anyhow.” William McFee (1916)
I’m currently in therapy to try and navigate emotional issues related to my personal relationships and future plans, all of which is so heavily influenced by the past, my past, and the unresolved conflicts that’ve been bubbling away, like molten rock, the lava swells and an eruption is inevitable. When I first got free of opiates I felt I’d succeeded, I’d conquered the beast and felt the future was mine again, that I’d no longer be dominated by the past, I was free, and also naïve to think I was cured or healed, when in reality that was the foundation from which to explore the issues that addiction and dependency had kept stunted and stifled, my emotional maturation was delayed, and there was much work still to do, I may have been free of dependency but I wasn’t free of my issues.
There is something synchronous and meaningful about this time, a serendipitous mixture of fate, circumstance and intent that has provided the essential ingredients for development and change. Lock down allowed me to focus solely on writing, it gave me permission to just be me, to find a way through the day that supported my mental health and needs. I have been able to write my memoir and whilst doing so have been led on the most extraordinary journey, I have stopped striving and adopted a pace much more attuned to my natural rhythms, doing so has allowed insights to flow, imagination to flourish and a sense of compassion to permeate and ground.
I’m sitting at my desk as normal, watching the birds feeding through the patio doors, my morning ritual that creates a sense of playfulness and curiosity, I delight in all the garden visitors, they are familiar friends, and the more I pay attention the more that seem to arrive. Just this morning I have seen robins, sparrows, blue tits, great tits, blackbirds, dunnocks, woodpecker, woodpigeon, collared doves, greenfinches, chaffinches, pied wagtail, wren, jackdaws, crows and a couple of others I’m still attempting to identify for sure, I feel so blessed, and observing their unique ways reminds me of my own nature and what is required for it to thrive, which is much different to how I’ve been living in the past, so many of my problems have come from living in disharmony with my authentic needs, from being someone I’m not.
The most regular costume I’d adopt would be extrovert Poppy, this was always welcomed and celebrated, the real introvert me felt out of place, a failing, or less than others. As part of this costume I also prized human relationships over other sources of meaning and satisfaction, and felt it was important to belong to a group, to find identity through my career or work, to find wholeness in relationships, to discover the one! All of this seeking, and trying to be what others expected just restricted me to a false self, who had no idea life could be about satisfying my unmet needs, and finding meaning that validated me. This revelation and discovery came from my journals and self-education, from a never ending thirst to know more, to explore both mind and world, all of which was revealed in solitude, not company, the most valuable insights were those gained in isolation, here too the seeds of imagination take root, and faculties of self-awareness can evolve. I’m touched by something Absolute when I commune with nature and remove myself from the world, retreat has served my healing processes as it provides the space for free association and subconscious shifts to morph and evolve, moments of awe and experiences that words forget but the spirits knows.
Ten years ago I was in manic mode, tirelessly attempting to work my will and control the uncontrollable, I was in denial, my wounds were internal but they’d still tear me apart. Ten years ago I had no idea my life was about to rearrange. The pregnancy had made me consider my father, the abortion even more so, for my birthday I visited the place I was in the womb, as I tried to reconcile the losses from mine.
“Sorrow makes us all children again” Emerson 1824