4 Years Ago: Writing to Heal

I was so excited this morning to wake and know that I had a whole day to spend at home alone. I stood for ages watching the birds in the garden. As the seasons have changed so have the visitors, although the usual suspects maintain their daily feeding habits like my friend the woodpigeon. Two robins have suddenly made their presence known and I love watching them dart about, I’m often distracted by the tic tic tic sound which feels like a call to prayer and I stand motionless scanning for a sight of crimson popping up here and there. Robins always make me think of my mum and of Marcel, and I always give them a little nod.

I let the chickens out and was amused by them attempting to chase the collared doves and blackbirds, I like that they feel at home in the garden. Charlie my dog has got used to them now and can be in the garden with them free ranging without any issue, although he often looks a bit puzzled by them. The day seemed bright, the sky was a dazzling blue, and the morning sunlight was casting a warm glow over the garden, the final red hot pokers of the year reaching towards the light. I felt warm inside and put on some favourite tunes and danced about the lounge with Charlie, singing along and closing my eyes as I bounced and bobbed. Today is a nice day.

I’ve been reflecting lots lately on writing this blog and making changes to my memoir. I considered why I write and what I’m hoping to achieve. I hope to show that recovery from addiction and trauma is possible, and that it’s impossible to sperate addiction from mental health. I hope to show that addiction can be fuelled by many things but most often there is pain underneath. I wanted to explore my shame and find a way to manage it and ultimately release it and move on. Writing my memoir and this blog has created shifts. It’s helped me to reflect on experiences in my life, and by reviewing my journals and writing I’ve engaged in a form of self-help or therapy, one akin to psycho-analysis as there’s so much free association. I’ve also been able to identify certain patterns to my behaviour and repeated cycles that can’t be ignored. There is clearly much work still to do on myself, but there is progress and I’m happy with that.

After getting my memoir back from my editor I’ve reviewed a few things and have been mulling over the following. I thought I was writing my memoir on addiction but I wonder if really it’s a book about trauma. It was mentioned that my use of swear words in the memoir text may disengage people or lead to negative reviews and I was grateful for this observation. My editor commented that my writing to that point had been eloquent and I totally accept what she has stated, I’m sure it’s very true. It made me think however, rather randomly of a clip I saw about Freddie Flintoff’s documentary about his battle with bulimia. I saw a clip in which he spoke about being two people, Freddie who is a Jack the lad type and doesn’t take things seriously and then Andrew who worries about everything. In my memoir I write about trauma separating parts of me and how I feel fragmented and as though I have different selves. The swearing and crude me that says inappropriate things and presents as cold and hard faced at times is one distinct self, more occupied in my past than now. It was the self I used to get my anger out, it allowed me to express negatively and that’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life, it’s like I feel it’s bad to be angry or negative and such feelings should be managed internally and not expressed. I have to ask myself am I writing this memoir for me or for an audience, well both, hhmmm. Much to ponder on for sure and I’m very happy to have my editors opinion and guidance as this is a whole new world to me and I value her wisdom and expertise. I was in a rush to publish my memoir but there is still much to do and I’m beginning to relaise that time is necessary if I’m to experience the full process, you can’t force the tide.

Ok, enough of that waffle and back to my journal review of four years ago, I’ll launch straight in with the entry from that time.

September 2016

The moon was calling me in the night, I woke for a wee at 1am and was pulled to see it’s perfect illumination. I woke at 5am after a lovely dreamy sleep. I set off for a walk at 6.45am and walked to the Quoit, Charlie gave me a momentary panic when he chased rabbits or a fox and vanished for 5 minutes. I was just starting to get concerned and he appeared! Big Phew!!

It was glorious watching the sun come up behind cairn and hillside, the dark outline of the old mines stood proudly against the vibrant burnt orange and yellow of the sky. Looking in the other direction towards the sea were Poldark skies all pink, blue and purple blending together in ripples. The horses were stood facing the sun waiting for her warmth to strip away the night chill. I walked and thought and felt. I even had a sing- I thought of Marcel as I navigated some mud, he always slipped up in the mud when we first met and I lived in the small caravan. We did have some funny times, always amusing each other with silly stuff. I thought of these times more and more as I walked and when I looked up a little sailing boat appeared and Paulo Nutini came in my head, the song Candy. “I was perched outside in the pouring rain trying to build myself a sail and I’ll float to you my darling”…oh Marcel, all or nothing with you, always the way!

“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” from Mary Oliver’s poem Summer Day.

I watched My Boy Jack about Rudyard Kipling and it triggered a good cry, so many thoughts of Marcel. I let myself go with it, the same questions, did I let him down, was he sad, how bad I feel about not seeing him. It felt good to cry. The film had lots of parallels as always!! The fact that Marcel and I lived in Kipling Terrace where Rudyard lived as a child whilst at school in Westward Ho!, this was the place where Marcel died. The loss of an only son, feelings of guilt felt and regret from trying to do the right thing, and of course my love of Kipling’s poems. I used to bother Marcel all the time with my facts about Kipling and the poems I discovered.

We did let each other be ourselves, it was so comfortable in so many ways and that was the problem, well some of the time. We both wanted to escape what we truly felt, we were both lost and together we found something that sustained us for a while. It was dysfunctional in so many ways but functional for us at that time, we made the most of a pretty horrendous time in life for me, and for him. When we separated paths and I moved here we’d both overcome some challenges and issues, and we separated in care and love, we wanted the best for each other, we’d outgrown the situation and were just holding each other back. I know he loved me, because he let me go, he knew I needed it, he knew me. Marcel would want me to be all I am, all of it, the silly, the kind, the loyal, the sarcastic, the wise ass, the dark horse, the intelligent, the loving, the deep and dark, the light and playful, the hippy dippy witchy me. I owe it to him to not give up on my dreams, I can hear his voice saying ‘You owe it to yourself Pops”

As I wrote those words I couldn’t help but smile and I know that’s a good sign, I can think and feel about Marcel now in a way that’s much lighter, it’s filled with the love shared rather than the loss and that’s ok, I should feel good about that not bad. Marcel would want me to feel that way, and today I’m thankful that I do.

I don’t know why it works but it does. Writing in my journals, writing my memoir and this blog have helped me create a narrative to my life and experiences that has helped me to manage feelings of depression and to understand how my early traumas in life have impacted me in so many ways. My addiction was an attempt to manage my ever decreasing mental health and rather fortuitously it allowed me to work through things I’d been unable to confront. Recovery from addiction forced me to care for myself in ways that connected me to my true needs and true self, I found the joy of solitude and spirituality. My issues and struggles in life have also been great teachers, I was blind to the lessons for so long and now I see them as my guides, adversity can be an ally. As soon as I was able to start asking what is my depression telling me and how does it serve me I started on this on journey of self discovery, it was only possible because life slowed down and I had a space free of influence and distraction. My depression showed me that I benefit from being alone, from a slower pace, from nature and beast and from time spent expressing without fear. Despite the setbacks it’s been a positive adventure and one I’m grateful to continue. Like my addiction, my depression is the result of trauma and just like my addiction it has things to teach me, when I see it like this life always gets easier; accept and flow.

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5 responses to “4 Years Ago: Writing to Heal

  1. Ian, Thank you for your very kind words, it’s made my day to read your comments, I’m truly touched by your thoughts on my blog and so happy you enjoy it. I really appreciate you taking the time to connect like this. I hope you are safe and well. Kindest regards, Poppy x

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