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Why Memoirists Can’t Hide

Why Memoirists Can’t Hide

I sat in a café today fighting back tears yet staring determinedly at my computer screen. Part of me wanted to run away while the other part thought, no, I have to do this.

I’d begun pulling my poetry collection together and as I began revisiting each piece, one by one, all the emotions they held rose up again within me.

A year a two ago, I found myself working on the same floor as a specialist I had first met in my 20s. As a man with a curious and active mind, who remembered me from way back then, he was keen to read my book as soon as I mentioned it. I still remember the look on his face afterwards. He looked at me intently and said, “It must have been very difficult to write a lot that.”

I nodded and said, “Yes. Yes it was.”

When you’re a memoirist and you write from real life, your life, it’s extraordinarily difficult to hide from yourself and the experiences of your past. You must look at yourself, study where you have been, unpick the threads of your life, then somehow sew them back together.

It’s not an easy journey to undertake. It’s often emotionally challenging. When you write about yourself, you cannot hide from yourself. This is why I frequently use journaling activities with my mentoring clients – what better way to uncover your true desires than to pick up a pen and begin recording your brutal self-honesty in writing.

Just like my first book, my poetry collection is autobiographical and traverses my relationship landscape with all its pain, heartbreaks and disappointments. There is a little humour in there too and this time, I also begin exploring the complicating influence of being psychic.  

I’ve found that being highly intuitive can work for and against me in romantic relationships. Yes, it may provide an extra level of insight about the person you are interested in but on the other hand, when your emotions are involved, your ability to easily to discern between your intuition and what your heart would like to happen can fly out the window. Factors like soul contracts and past life connections (or past life hangovers as I call them) can also mess with your head, a lot.

I am not one of those women who can put her emotions in a box. In truth, writing my first book was very much like my own personal version of therapy. It was only through writing about my experiences, editing it then revisiting it again, that I was able to finally clear a lot of debris from my psyche. With the birthing of that book I was able to step back and see where I had learned the lessons I needed to learn, and then let the rest go.

I find that my poetry is far more raw than my prose. It always knows what it wants to be when it arrives. It has a clear intention and energy of its own. Once written I can only change a word here or tweak a phrase there. Further self-indulgent editing inevitably destroys the life of the piece leaving it a bedraggled and shallow version of its former self. So I leave most of the words as they arrive.

The memories in my poetry are vivid. They are unavoidable and, judging by my emotional response today, I still have a lot to process about their contents. Two hours was about all I could manage today before I needed a break. But I am going to persevere. There are other books waiting to be finished and released.

Interestingly the themes of relationships, love, and energetic connections are increasingly showing themselves in my work. I guess my Muse is determined that I learn the lessons that are being delivered to me and I continue to be her reluctant yet committed pupil.

Egg on Her Face

In the back of my first book The Men I’ve Almost Dated, I included some poems from my next book, The Madness of Love. The poetry collection is best described as an enticing concoction of reality, fantasy and other-worldly insight. It asks the reader to find the line between madness and love. I’m now curating those poems for publication. Here is another one entitled Egg on Her Face. Can you relate?

Focus on the feelings you felt, she said
Not the man you know who gave them
But when I did all I could do
Is think of the man who raised them

I realised then
The drama created
Was always derived from me
My expectations of being trampled on
Let my fear run away with me.

All I wished for now it seemed
Was his stillness and his light
The feeling that all was well
Of calmness with no strife

His air, just present
His eyes so kind
And frequently warmly smiling
While making me laugh
I’ve never felt so torn
As I do now
When I think back
And realise what I’ve done
I helped create the current stance
In fact, I loaded the gun

He had played his part
It’s true
He had driven it home
But I, oh God
I couldn’t believe
Just what my fear had done
All was well
Until I lost
My way and all perspective
And then all he and I could do
Was drown in the invective
As we rocked from side to side
Carried on unsteady waves
Of fear, anxiety, never confidence
I behaved just like a babe

He had called me so naïve
Was that for trusting him
But perhaps my real issue
Was actually me, not him

He had turned away from me
Because I did not stand
I had not yet put myself first
Fear had the upper hand
I did not stand in my power
I was quite simply
Just all over the place
The thought that I had caused him pain
Simply left me with egg on my face.

Brick Walls Coated in Teflon

Brick Walls Coated in Teflon

The brick wall was coated with Teflon
It stood there staring back
Everything she threw at it
It just kept sliding back

So she walked around the side
To see what she could see
But all she could see was more Teflon
As far as the eye could see

Eventually she lay down
And stared up at the sky
The Teflon shadow stretching over her
There was nothing else that she could try
To shift the weight
It pinned her down
She was gasping her last breath
Or so she thought
Then something moved
And she got up instead

She knew there were cracks
Not far inside
That Teflon-covered wall
But it wasn’t up to her to budge it
It wasn’t up to her at all

She put on her hat
She put on her shoes
And left her calling card
Well actually truth be told
She left more than several cards
She stuck her cards
With super glue
All over that God-damn wall
Those cards they stuck
Didn’t even move in the breeze
They weren’t going anywhere at all
And every time
She passed by
She simply stuck on another
That God-damn wall would have to collapse
She wasn’t giving up
No she wasn’t, my brother

But that wall
Was fucking determined
It liked the safety of Teflon
But she didn’t care
About any of that
She didn’t care about the Teflon
She’d keep leaving
Her calling card
It was printed in colours of light
That wall it didn’t stand a chance
Against all that beautiful light

Eventually the Teflon would be consumed
By the light of those sweet cards
The black would fade
To leave all the cracks
All the indelible scars

She would run her fingers through them
All those faulty lines
She would reach deep within
Or maybe not
Who could surmise
What would happen
When the Teflon left
And revealed all that was hidden
So much love
So well-protected
So hidden from normal vision

Perhaps she would just know it was there
As days turned weeks turned months
Her life expanding
And then contracting
Seeking always love

But walls are harsh
So very hard
Wiser ones would say
But it’s the cracks that lie deep within
I love them she would say

Life is full of faults and pain
And some use that Teflon
To repel all other advances
They prefer to keep it on
And that is fine
To be sure
There’s nothing wrong with that
Although perhaps there is actually
Something profoundly wrong with that
Imagine if they moved the black
Moved that dark Teflon
And instead they let the light flood in
All the darkness could be gone

What did she know
About anything, any of that
All the plain eye could see
Was Teflon staring back

But she would keep leaving her calling cards
That glue was really strong
Was the Teflon stronger
She wondered
As she kept on, keeping on

She didn’t know
Maybe she was wrong
To believe in any of that
Maybe she was wrong
To believe
The darkness was merely an act

Fanciful flights
Circling her brain
They flew straight to her heart
She was happy right then
To let them fly
The light still filled her heart


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.

Silence No 1

Silence 1Not a word could be heard
The silence complete
The cord it seemed
Was cut

Her heart in her mouth
She listened again
But the silence
Had shut everything up

Some would say
Silence has no sound
But its impact is so devastating
It washes over and drowns your heart
A process really quite castigating

She strained again
To hear a sound
A word
Another heart beating
But all she heard
Was a dripping tap
And the sound of her own heart beating