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Pain + creativity = more depth in your art

Pain + creativity = more depth in your art

Many years ago, I went through a truly treacherous break-up. I gave my heart completely to someone who couldn’t sustain the love he said he felt, so he left. What followed for me was a rapid spiral into quite frankly, the darkest depths of hell with all the devastating pain, heartbreak and depression that accompanies such an experience.

A month or so after the end, I sent him a copy of my first ever manuscript. I don’t think I had shared it with another human soul at that point. For a writer, it is a deeply personal and vulnerable thing to do. It was posted a couple of days before Christmas Day, and I imagined him reading every page. Knowing him as I did, I doubted he would be able to stop himself.

He never acknowledged the receipt of that manuscript. In fact, he never acknowledged I existed from the day he ended things. From passionate love and planning a future to vapid emptiness and nothingness the next. These days, they call it ghosting.

That first manuscript was my first book, The Men I’ve Almost Dated, and the events in there occurred long before he entered my life. Yet still, I wanted desperately to have his acknowledgement of my work and a sign that I had mattered. The sign never came.

Interestingly, as a highly-sensitive psychic, I could feel that man long after he had physically departed my life and cut contact. Sometimes I had visions of what he was doing, other times I just felt it. The energetic connection was impossible for me to break for many months, and believe me I tried. When you read online about these types of connections, many describe them as twin flames. Considering I have variants of this ability whenever I am heart connected these days, I would dispute this broad brush and frequently overly-romanticised description. And for those of you out there, longing for a twin flame type connection, I would say strongly and clearly, be careful what you wish for because it’s not easy and it’s sure as heck isn’t fun. To be connected to another soul in this way and not have the understanding of what is going on or how to disconnect from it – as I didn’t have at the time – can drive you to the edge of madness.

Fast forward a few years, I’m now editing my next book. Surprisingly, it’s a collection of poetry based on that relationship, and some romantic connections that followed. It covers the energetics of that experience, the heart-wrenching devastation it delivered and how I made it through to the other side. So much of my memoir-writing seems to focus on the dysfunction and pain that can occur in relationships and this book is no different. However, the energetic overlay makes things much more complex to navigate. It’s been a journey.

Recently, I found myself thinking about sending him that first manuscript. I thought about the cruelty of his behaviour and how I seriously lost my way during that time. I also thought about how, through my poetry, I can see the gift his abandonment gave me. I could not write in this way if I hadn’t experienced what it truly felt like to be emotionally annihilated.

My poetry isn’t light-hearted. It’s more hit you in the chest realism than joy and light imaginings.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m still not sure about that one but there is something I know for sure, all that pain has made me a stronger writer.

You cannot survive the fire without scars but you can channel your pain into art that will hopefully help others to express their own, and then move on.

If you’re ready to share your story with the world, check out Storytellers Anonymous. There are people out there who need to hear what you have to say.

The lessons of Grief and making it through

GriefAround this time last year I had my heart broken by a man I loved with everything in me. When I say ‘broken’, I mean it. My experience with that man literally broke me apart and I completely lost myself in Grief.

I have grieved relationships and people lost from my life before but this time was different. This time Grief took me over and I fell to the bottom of huge pit of despair where I stayed for what seemed like an interminable period. I cried every day for months and months. I raged at the world and at him. I went to places so dark in my mind that I thought I would never make it out alive. Grief was a bitch that would not let me go.

She was with me every moment and, as I writer, my only recourse was to pour my pain onto a page. I wrote 70,000 words between January and May. Then something unexpected happened; the prose turned to poetry. It felt like Grief cracked open this whole new part of me and poetry fell out. It was strange and also so very relentless. Grief was a demanding client. She demanded I write and write even when tired, emotionally spent and physically exhausted. I had to write. It all had to come out.

The muse was my therapist and my words, catharsis. When I read those words now they often seem like they were written by someone else. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes my words impress me and I ask myself, ‘Did I really write that?’ Those words hold an essence and a depth that wasn’t in me 18 months ago. I can thank Grief for that.

She held me close and I held her closer. She defined me and I let her. Then our relationship took an unexpected twist when, after about six months, Grief left me to find another soul to torment. She had penetrated every part of me and her departure left an emptiness behind; a space to be filled by something or, perhaps, someone else.

I didn’t realise she was leaving until after she’d gone. Grief had been my constant companion and influencer. Her occupation of my life was something I dreaded daily but she was also a dragging weight I’d carried willingly for months. Then suddenly, I was free.

I don’t know if I let go of Grief or she let go of me. Maybe it was a combination of both. It felt weird not to have her around. But I couldn’t hold onto her or the pain anymore. I couldn’t stay in that place of torment. It was time to move on.

Some people say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I don’t know about that. All I can say is, although I never, ever want to be hurt like that again, I know the experience showed me parts of myself I didn’t know existed. Grief was a hard taskmaster (okay, a complete bitch) but she taught me a lot about pain, creativity, what I’m capable of (the wonderful and awful, shameful parts) and my ability to just keep going when I’d rather give up completely.

I don’t wish her to visit again. But I am thankful for the lessons Grief taught me because they helped me to become a wiser person, and a stronger writer.