It’s that time of year when the promise of light is in the air. For those of us who have been sat in the darkness for too long – this one is for you.
Hacking through bracken, words are tar and feathers – dense. I don’t see the features on anyone’s faces. Words hang in rusted barbed wire around necks of the bodies they are attached to. Dragging themselves along pavements. Day after grey day.
Sharp edged arrow words. Put things away properly. Sit up straighter. Only wear clean clothes. Don’t get too dirty. Don’t swear. Quieten down. Don’t – just don’t. Words written on my face in spit stink – invisible ink. I’m stained on the inside with congealed blood that doesn’t flow quite right.
Don’t speak up. Keep the words in.
Don’t stand out.
Speak when you’re spoken too.
Keep your mouth shut.
Keep the lid on.
Don’t let anything out.
Don’t break things.
Makes me want to do things that I shouldn’t. Makes me want to shout and scream and tip things over, pour paint on the floor – rip my clothes, feel fear on purpose as a way of gaining some kind of control. Does that make sense? And when I can’t feel anything and I find myself in the company of strangers that want me to organise myself, have the right clip board, or a different face or proper hair, or a proper thing to say, or a quieter laugh, or just be quieter and don’t laugh. That’s when things get messy. In my head. That’s when I have to shrink in order to grow fast, it’s like I have to crouch down small in a pretend game of hide and seek and then build my energy, build it and build it and build it until I can hide no longer and everything just bursts out.
Rip and pour and create in a whirlwind of not knowing what comes next because there is no actual order. There is no supposed to and right and wrong in this crazy fucked up world that we live in. It just is. It just is. And without starting from a place of mess I don’t know how anything could actually begin. Rip up all instructions and burn them, stand in the glow of the fire and wait until I know what to do next. If nothing comes, I’ll draw with the ash from the embers and spit into the dirt on the ground and that will be my fresh start. Because anything else is a lie. And if nothing else on this else earth holds true, I know I can tell the truth and start at the beginning.
What will you do when the words you bear on your back begin to squash you flat?
What do you do?
Put the children in bed and cry? Drink until you forget?
What do you do?
Burn things, make fires, read yourself into another world, change your hair, your clothes, your food. Or does everything stay the same? Roll in soft cotton duvets and drink tea until you cannot contain any more liquid. Stare at screens until the scene in front of you sleeps.
All these things and more.
Put away sharp objects and dance in spilt ink, tracing your footsteps to the next place.
All these things and more.
These words will go and days will pass.
You just are. You will find your truth and begin. Begin again.
I go to a gym, nothing wrong with that right? I have got to that age where frankly if I don’t exercise the many years of drinking and body abuse I have indulged in, starts to show. There were many obstacles for me to overcome before I could go regularly to a gym, the obvious being body image. I never, NEVER, expected that I would voluntarily go to a place to exercise.
Some days it’s damn hard to be grateful. To be truly grateful for small things is life changing, it is scientifically proven. Think of three good things right now:
1. A good thing that has happened today, no matter how small.
2. Something that is going well in your life.
3. Notice something you really appreciated recently.
Go on, I challenge you to.
If you have done that, there is a shift in your brain that has occurred and you have become part of the positive psychology revolution. If you carry on doing this over several days and make it a ‘Happiness Habit’. The frontal cortex of your brain actually changes shape, the muscles become stronger and you are literally training yourself to be more aware of the good things in your life.
I know all this. I believe it. I live it. I study it. But. Some days I am so flat I cannot stand. Even the word grateful is too heavy to hold. I am a small flat black rectangle – not skin black. Matt black – flat black – a black with no depth – chalkboard black – grim reaper black. On those days, shutting my eyes can make my head spin on it’s internal roller coaster. So I stare at my discarded books, sweat stained washing and try to find the small voice under it all. Chasing the teensy tinny , grief yielding whine beneath wall paper, in the grain of the floor boards, I have lost myself. Buried under successful Facebook statuses, or triumphant Twitter announcements. A persistent tapping of: