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.
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.
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 Anyway 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
Around 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.