Hello.

Welcome to the Kindling Khepri.

I am still becoming, pushing the sun towards the breaking dawn.
I carry messages across the water, bidding them to survive. It is in my words that I will live forever, while my essence grows and rots and withers away. Know me in my message. Know that every line here is truthful and sincere, and every utterance a baring of my most vulnerable self.

Kindlings are my long-form musings on love, life and loss. They follow the threads laid out in the First Kindling; between Twigs and Kindlings, a khepri builds a bonfire of rebirth, nurtured by the breath of a thousand stories.

Do not crush me, traveller. Let me show you my soul, hoping it finds reflection in yours.

 

 

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A burning reclamation

One of my earliest memories is of drowning.

I was really young, maybe 3 or 4, and at a beach somewhere on the West Coast. I remembered being taken by a wave and being submerged. I sank beneath the water with the mottled light of a beautiful day fading above me. Dark figures swam toward me; it may have been a sand shark – it certainly looked like an animal – but I was sinking, my limbs betrayed me, and I felt my softness merge with the pull of the rushing wave.

Someone pulled me out and I lived, and I sometimes wonder whether my awareness of my mortality became so much more acute after that day. I certainly realised at a young age how quickly and easily the rushing wave of an ending could be. And I was terrified of it.

Today one of my idols left this world. His name was Anthony Bourdain – a chef, a madman, one of the most honest and principled ‘bad boys’ of an industry filled with objectively odd fish. He took his own life at 61 after a lifetime of adventures, love, friendship, and riding the dark wave of his personal demons (which he writes about frankly in his work – something I’ve tried to learn from). But besides being brilliant, funny and incisive, he was a man whose respect and support for the underdog was genuine and so encouraging – evidenced in his unwavering support for the #MeToo movement, his partner and the women affected by the depravities of powerful men, including his colleagues, peers and friends. [Speaking of fish, there’s a quote here where he talks about being adventurous and learning about life through food. Earlier this year I ate a grilled fish head in Zimbabwe and it was great (and made for a great Nemo impersonation at the table of Very Serious Academic Laureates).

I might be striving towards a fresher, happier start at the moment but the crashing wave is never far behind. Successful people are often afraid of weakness and of exhibiting their fragility, but Bourdain was different, and it was in this difference that his character and beauty was so evident. The wave comes for so many of us; so many of us know and love people for whom its undertow can be devastating. And the pullback from the break – that shattering space left where life once existed – is filled with questions, recriminations, and an endless, cold silence.

Fragile strength is not strength. It is brittle and it turns on the self when it fails. Because it is a facade, it is outward looking, which means that the internal buttresses needed to keep everything in place don’t exist. It’s just a pretty defense to the world. It doesn’t protect you from yourself.

There is a beautiful song, Reclamation, by Cold Weather Company that speaks to this problem; it touches on the fear that develops from our proximity to loss, to failure, and mostly our proximity to the worst of ourselves. Too often that proximity – that awareness that you aren’t yet everything you want to be for yourself and those you love – can be crushing. Too often that awareness is refracted by unreasonable expectations, desires and beliefs that distort our appreciation for what makes us unique and draws love and wonderful people to our lives. It causes people to show patience, kindness, generosity to everyone but themselves, filling other cups from a dwindling bucket. Pining for rain instead of allowing the spring running beneath barren earth to burst through the cracks.

I don’t know what led AB to the decision he took but I respect him for the life he lived., the chances he took, and the vigor that he brought to every new (sometimes hair raising) discovery. Many of us are afraid of the unknown more than we fear taking life in our own hands. What we don’t realise is that we have the opportunity to do it daily, not to end life, but to begin anew. Every single day we have the choice of reclamation, of starting over, of giving new things a chance to thrive, and every day – out of fear, pain, drowning in memories of times we drowned in the worst of life – we run from the opportunity to do so. I’ve done it more times than I could count – ran from opportunities, from friendships, from love.

But at some point you have to stop running. At some point you have to jump in and let the wave take you if you want to be able to swim. I was scared of swimming for a decade after that incident. I never told anyone – rather just lived through the giggling when I sat on the pool step at birthdays and family gatherings. Until one day I took a deep breath and kicked off the edge and found that with a little effort my body could carry me. That, if anything, was more of a baptism than anything I could have experienced in a church. It was a moment of being reborn in the same way I could have died. I realised then that a person could live and die many times in a lifetime, but that there was no death worse than the living death that comes from fear. That in fact I would need to kill myself many times over to begin anew: would need to cut, to burn, to cauterise and howl with the agony of living in order to taste its sweetness and its freedom. And I learned from people like AB, who survived all manner of insanity and darkness and was unafraid of reflecting and transforming himself into a better, more expansive and accepting human being in spite of it all.

My heart broke at the loss of someone who gave life and hope to so many aspiring writers, cooks, and ordinary people learning where and how to find adventure in the mundaneness of modern life. My deepest wish is that his rebirth will be beautiful and vibrant. That he took a final breath, plunged his head beneath the wave and swam in that sweet spot between the break and the undercurrent out into the open water. That he lifted his head above the tide and opened his eyes to brilliant light, and that there, in that little pocket between sky and earth, he found peace in the great unknown, and instead of torrents felt the soft water lapping against his skin in a welcoming embrace.

And for you – whoever you may be, dearest love – know that you carry the breaking waves and the beautiful storms and the tools for a beautiful rebirth inside you. That you don’t need to die in order to live again, but that you can kill the parts of you that hold you back. Know that you are loved, wanted and whole. That in order for things to get better, you have to be here when the light comes. And whatever it is you’re struggling with I truly hope you will be. The world would be a little emptier without you.

 

Flickering coals

There is a saying that is common among worriers, from what I’ve seen. It goes something like, ‘Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.’

I’m starting to realise why that kind of thought pattern is incredibly self-defeating. Hope and negative expectation cannot survive alongside each other for long. One always wins, and usually it’s the negative stuff, because preparing for the worst takes a lot of energy.

When you expect the worst you create it – in your words, your actions, and the way you relate to people. Instead of allowing life to unfold and trusting that it will work out as long as you do your part, you expect that everything is going to blow up any minute. Living in that state of tension is not only unhealthy, it can probably make you go a little bit nuts.

In some situations in life – depending on your early experiences – you learn that whatever happens you have the internal resources to deal with challenges that may drop into your lap. Sometimes you don’t, and so uncertainty and change become things you dread, obsess over and try to pre-empt. The problem that follows from this is that you look for things that aren’t there; create problems that don’t exist; and take things personally that have nothing to do with you.

I said in my previous post that we have to outgrow the habits that we’ve formed to protect ourselves when it becomes apparent that they hold us back in some way. I was talking to an aunt (a very cool one) a while ago and her advice to me was ‘It’s yours to lose’. And I took that, turned it over, and found that I really liked that, and wanted to model that more often.

In every aspect of life, something that you care about is yours to lose, whether a friendship, a job, or an opportunity. That doesn’t mean you are the only one in control of it – quite the opposite. It’s recognising where your role begins and ends. Where it ends is where hope and trust begins. When you do too much or too little, it’s either because your hope has eroded, or you’re afraid to trust that things will work out for you in the way that they should.

I’ve been really good at compensating for other people’s behaviour all my life. I’ve also been terrible at being honest about my limitations, so I take on more than I can handle because I feel that not to be ‘everything’, all the time, is a failure (and that creates martyrdom). Learning to be selfish without being emotionally unavailable has been the hardest and most ongoing lesson of my life, but I’m starting to enjoy it.

The truth is you cannot prepare for the worst all the time; it poisons your joy, and I like being joyful, I like being down in the dirt with kids and making people laugh and eat cake. So at the moment I’m hoping for the best in everything I do – and I end everyday saying thank you to whatever watches this wide Universe for all the things that made my day great, which includes the challenges, the lessons and the stumbling blocks.

Growth is painful, growth is slow. Rebuilding your roaring inner fire takes a breath of fresh air and I’m trying to introduce that in every way I can. It takes active re-programming of crystallised patterns of negative self-talk and expectations. It requires letting go of the reins so your hands can catch the blessings. It’s trusting that when you jump, there will be something gentle to break your fall. And it’s appreciating your softness because it is tensile, it absorbs rather than reacts, and it is mutable enough to transform itself without needing to break every time.

I’ve been lucky to have the experiences I’ve had, though they sound terrible and dark and sad. They may have been at the time, they may have shaped how I grew, but once I saw them for what they were I also saw the immense gifts I had been given – unyielding strength, resilience, resourcefulness, acceptance and an ability to laugh at life’s madness. Laughter was the best weapon I had – and being able to laugh at your problems reduces the possibility of treating them like life-and-death stuff, even if they are. Choosing to take the gifts and leave behind the muck has been something I haven’t regretted.

In the Desiderata Ehrmann writes ‘be cheerful. Strive to be happy.’ People say we overrate happiness sometimes and I do agree; a little bit of discontent is a great motivator. But being cheerful, expecting goodness and not harm, and feeling the freedom to dream again – those are good habits, not unrealistic expectations. Anyone who tells you otherwise needs a hug. There’s nothing wrong with being happy. That too is yours to lose.

A return to embers

I’m back! (slowly)

I’ve taken some time out from kindling, but the thing about good fires is that they take a while to die. And I needed the time and space because I decided at the start of this year that I would dig deep in a way I never have before – draw all my energy back in to focus it on what I wanted. This post is an introduction to where I’m at, and I hope what I have to share is of some use.

When I shut down the blog it was because I’d realised that a few toxic experiences had come to dominate what I was writing about, but that the writing was not as reflective as I wanted it to be (you’ll find those posts are no more). I think many people can attest to 2017 being a bit of a clusterfuck, and mine was no different – losing friends, a lover, and my mind in one fell swoop. I can laugh about it now but at the time it was harrowing, not just for myself but the people around me.

I also had to face up to the reality that my biggest obstacle in life was fear. Makes sense, right? Anxiety is fear-driven, and my anxiety had gotten severely out of hand as a result of my experiences last year. Because of choosing the wrong people – and behaving out of fear – I reaffirmed my fundamental internal belief that the world was a scary, dangerous and untrustworthy place. And I never wanted to go back to that or behaving out of that belief, because no one deserves to be a casualty in your sad story. Save it for the Lifetime channel.

So what changed?

I started by understanding the roots of my anxiety. Where the fear came from, why I developed the responses and defense mechanisms I did. Why I chose the situations I ended up in, especially in friendships and relationships. And then I slowly started the work of dismantling that universe, smashing out the boards to let the light back in.

My major fears in life are being ignored, being physically or emotionally unsafe, being abandoned – so I just avoid people. I’m a loner, a hermit, and an introvert, but the minute I find people I want to keep around my fearometer goes haywire. I see my weirdness as a flaw and not a strength, and my bad experiences as a problem and not the source of my deep desire to be different and better to what I have known. I explain myself too much because I’ve been misinterpreted all too often. And I am obsessed with controlling my life because volatility, instability and disruption have been my norms for most of my childhood. So I worry, and worry, even when there’s nothing to worry about – especially when there’s nothing to worry about, I’ll dig up something just to have a problem to solve.

It’s a toxic cocktail to bring to interactions with people, and while I’ve sloughed off most of the behaviours that stem from those fears the residue will remain for a while, like an oil spill. But the biggest triumph I had was a mini-workshop I conducted with myself about two months ago, before one of the most important interviews of my life. I spent weeks alone, really alone, in my flat, talking to myself daily about these fears and their history. Talking to my professional about them, but trying quite actively to avoid asking for help or advice because in truth, for someone like me, advice is inertia – it stops me from trusting what I know to be true and acting only on that.

I recognised that I give up my power to other people’s opinions rather than recognising the subjectivity of existence itself. Instead I took a look at reality for the first time: that I had been chosen not only because I was good at what I did, but because the people meeting and assessing me had decided I was a good person; that my values were sound; and that my character was solid. And I accepted those facts instead of trying to think about every. single. thing. around them.

I could not control the outcome. I could not ask for anything more than the time they would be giving me, and as much as I could prepare I had no idea what they would ask of me. All I could do was show up as the best version of myself. And that version of me was calm, composed, assertive, warm and engaged, curious, and (as per usual) a motormouth of epic proportions. The workshop’s single lesson was this: You have to show up for the life you want. In every way. If you enjoy your isolation, don’t lose your social skills. If you want happy, comfortable, peaceful, interesting, stable, you have to be those things first. And I was, but only from the inside of an anxious, grouchy, untrusting shell. I’ll get to that in a minute.

The lesson from the interview was that if I could go into every day like that, wouldn’t life be amazing? [I spent the five days after the interview a stress-eating, movie-watching, frantic-cleaning hermit, but still] When they called to let me know I had won the scholarship, I walked from the city centre to the fringes of Salt River (between 4 and 6 kilometres). I felt free. And to me freedom is the absence of fear.

Doing something – succeeding at something – that scares you is a really good way to beat the nigglies back. I still had moments of anxiousness in the weeks after, but it was minor by comparison because I had learned – seen – how much good could happen when I let go. When I trusted that things would work out, and gave it the space to do so.

Anxiety – and a bit of a crazy upbringing – will teach you that everything in life is deathly serious. Especially when you develop it to cope with uncertainty it can be a blessing to convince yourself you have the power to change a situation that scares you, but just like a warm blanket, when the summer comes you might die of overheating. It’s good for the season but folding it and packing it away doesn’t mean that you don’t love and value the fact of its warmth. I had to accept that the time had come to pack away the baby blanket, to climb out of the carapace that had turned from protection to prison, too small to hold all of the growth I had been edging towards for months. To wake up to the chill of each morning and know, trust, that the sun would come.

The principles of this new phase I’m still wriggling into are trust and release. In absolutely everything. I said to a group of friends yesterday that too often, in life and in love, we take our pain with us into the next phase and not the lesson the painful experience taught us. We cannot grow from pain – it will always be agony, backward-looking, fearful, and destructive.  It will always seek control as a means of self-protection.

I speak from personal experience. Control is the absence of trust. So since the rupture last year, I’ve replaced it with being upfront with many of the people in my life about difficult things, with trusting people to be good (rather than expecting them not to be) and focusing instead on being, and treating others, to the best version of myself – the girl who walked into that room that day and made a group of powerful people laugh.

It isn’t easy. Most days I’m at 50-60% of that girl (still as clumsy though). But knowing she was still in there – still breathing and badass underneath years of me drowning her voice with the toxic fumes of fear and self-doubt – gave me the kick I needed to dig her out.

I’ve also started gardening, so the metaphor is apt. We grow best from lessons and being open to the wisdom they bring – giving opportunities and good times space to manifest, to grow organically, with a little bit of light and understanding. And when you accept every new experience as the offering of a moment of growth, you learn to recognise that good always comes. It always, always does.

Baby steps

With mental health, it’s the small wins that are often the most significant.

Thats because it takes a lot to make those wins. It takes one comment from a loving relative, one joke at a dinner table – ‘Be careful, you need to fit into a bridesmaid’s dress!’ – to set what was a slowing spiral back on its breakneck course. You go back to measuring yourself daily, weighing food portions, and working so hard your appetite is gone by the time you get home. You can’t bring it up though, because then you get labeled oversensitive.

The gaming starts up slowly again.

Recovery is about daily victories. Sometimes it’s a spoonful, sometimes a bowl, other days, if you’re really lucky, a feast. One day of eating like a normal (middle class normal anyway) human being is not going to make you balloon, but it’s hard explaining that to a brain preoccupied with the minutiae.

I never started this blog as a recovery blog; writer’s block set in again when I tasked my brain with keeping my body alive. It’s been trying to kill me for so long, and I can finally admit that without feeling the need to add a caveat that I’m not insane. I am, a little. How can I not be when I speak to my matryoshka mental health problems as naughty younger siblings? But I keep writing here because sometimes the process of becoming isn’t beautiful, or beautifully phrased. Sometimes it’s a crock of shit, and I have to be honest about that too.

I was 10 when an uncle passed a comment about the thickness of my thighs, and that’s when I realised my body wasn’t like my other cousins’.

I was 12 when I asked for seconds at dinner and my stepfather responded I should look in the mirror before asking for more.

I was 14 when my stepsister asked me to stretch her jeans. My older sisters treated me like their chubby project to fix. I have a cousin who says my legs are stumpy. I had friends who didn’t hit early puberty like me, and so found my new body probably weirder than I did. My mother would take me shopping and I would cry in fitting rooms, pull my own hair out, and scratch myself, never being able to find clothes that fit my hips, seeing a troll in the mirror that I was sure everyone laughed at constantly. Even our family nanny constantly comments on my weight loss or gain. My body is everyone’s property but mine.

I never noticed when my weight started dropping, in fact I’ve never been able to notice. I cannot see myself. I can only tell by the fit of my clothes. And yet, despite all this self hate and harm, I find fat shaming repugnant, and hate seeing others go through what I went through. My hate is self directed, and I’ve long realised the issue wasn’t about weight – at least, not entirely.

As I’ve said before, the root is always in other people and their opinions of me, and the right so many people in my life think they have to comment on every detail of my being. I spent most of university covered in baggy pants and skirts and jackets to hide myself away (and to avoid changing rooms). I used to enjoy deciding what to wear in the morning, choosing my daily armor, but mostly these days it’s a fight to make it out the door without having a total meltdown. I check the mirror five times before I leave. I measure almost every day now, at least until the spiral slows again. And every time a man passes a salacious comment in the street I have to fight the urge to burst into angry tears. I do not want to be seen.

I do not want to be a body, I have only been a body. I was a body to my rapist, I was a body to mocking friends, I was a body to trashy boys with hormones for brains who thought treating me as a conquest was a way to cultivate mutual respect. I was a body to the guy who would throw a blanket over me and force his hands into my underwear with his friends in the room, thinking his violence made him a big man. My body has only ever been the source of my humiliation.

Recovery is a process. I am learning that to recover from this destructive relationship with myself I have to recognize its relationship to a host of other traumas I consistently assume I’m ‘over’, despite my own family or friends not even knowing about them. I’m open about my mental health because I think I should be; people make the dangerous assumption that you cannot equally be a mess and seem to have it all figured out. For example, anyone who’s been hangry knows what havoc it wreaks on your mood. Imagine that amplified, constantly having mood swings and feeling like your reactions to things are irrational and not being able to explain why to people because you feel like you’re making excuses. That kind of cycle of blame would make a steel turbine crack.

I am trying day by day, fork by fork, meltdown by meltdown, to rebuild – as hard, selfish, messy, and slow as that can be. I want to rebuild because I cannot let my own destruction be an excuse for hurting others. And I remove myself when I think that may be the case. You have to get up, you have to get up off the mat and call it in and fight back even if fighting back is a glass of water and three hours of staring into space. You have to. And I have to. I’m going to be someone’s mother one day – I know I will be – and I have to learn to be strong now, and to fight the world’s cruelty now, because one day I won’t just be doing it for myself.

I will invite neither criticism nor vanity into my child’s body image. I will not deny food for bad behaviour and dress fittings, or teach them that their body is not enough for play, for thought, for love. I will not allow strangers or loved ones to criticize them or even comment on their bodies, and for every schoolyard bully and trashy lover with a toxic mouth and violent words I will remind them that their wellbeing, their joy in beautiful things, their appreciation and respect for self and other, matters so much goddamn more than the needle edge of a scale.

Teach your children that they are transient, and transcendent, and more than the clumsy composition of flesh and clay that carries them through this plane of existence. Tell them, and teach them, only this: ‘Your soul is weightless, my love, and it can soar.’

Kindlings, 5

Let me confess something I’ve been telling myself all my life:

I’m really not a great person.

I would like to be, in my heart of hearts, but I know I’m not. I have a lot of issues and beyond that I have so many survival mechanisms and defenses that I terrify my own self. The khepri is a little beetle and symbolically it pushes the sun towards the dawn. The real beetle it represents is much less statuesque – it rolls a ball of shit, quite literally.

My lessons post-Kindlings 3 have been multiple and difficult but I’ve been thankful for them daily. The one lesson that’s stuck with me is something a lovely human being once said to me: ‘You’ve always been good to me, and I’ve always been good to you, and that’s why it’s never hard seeing you after time has passed, even if we aren’t best mates’.

I am guilty of being selfish, demanding, intense and immature. These are things I know about myself and have been trying to improve since I saw what was there. The one difficulty – though really a blessing – I have is that once I’ve seen the worst of myself I can’t go back there. That’s how I rebuild every single time, from the desire to be ten times better. Change or die.

My other big flaw is not that I act the victim, or centre my own experience, though I am guilty of that too. My big flaw is giving people way too much authority over my happiness, and seeking their validation for how I feel and think. That is unhealthy and after a while it becomes self-harming.

In my world, I am always the one in the wrong, and the people I love know this to be true. I would sooner pin something on myself than on someone else, and when I’m angry at someone I dedicate an immense amount of energy to gaslighting myself out of my anger and confirming with myself that I have, in fact, overreacted.

That was the first thing I started burning to the ground when I decided the time was ripe for a change. I’ve spent my life being convinced by the people I loved that my instincts were false, that what I saw wasn’t true, and that my interpretation of what I saw was heavy-handed or wholly inaccurate – this when I know myself to be a rational, logical, almost too coldly analytical human being (NB: another flaw – computing emotion is a massive challenge, and causes total combustion). After a while you stop trusting yourself; you stop believing that you have a good measure of a situation, and you start conceding your power to people who you think know best. You stop seeing that people may be good but that they can only receive you as far as their own experience allows.

That isn’t a mistake I will make again in a hurry. You have to see yourself as a person of worth before you can be good to others. A lot of the goodness I’ve tried to show people came from seeing all my flaws (and I can list them for you if you want) and all my hang-ups, and wanting to offer people what they needed because I didn’t know how to give it to myself. But that’s the shift I started feeling in myself this year – that rather than give people from my own place of pain, fear and insecurity, I would fill my own bucket first, rather than die of thirst trying to quench everyone else.

And that meant letting a few people down, and cutting a few out completely. Because I am not a great person, but every day I try to be kinder, and nicer, more fair, less hardened. I can’t fix any of my mistakes but I can make sure I don’t knock my head in the same way twice. It works some days and others it’s hard, but I never get out bed wishing anyone harm, and I don’t go to sleep counting off my kill list anymore (I’m actually Jon Snow and about as much of a stubborn pain in the ass); when I’ve hurt people I realise it first and act to rectify it, immediately if possible, but in time if I think that’s what they need more from me at that moment. It’s treading a balance between loving yourself and being honest about who ‘yourself’ really is – your triggers, defences, and capacity for utter shittiness.

So if someone decides i’m not great, and doesn’t think I deserve a chance to prove them wrong, then it’s farewell with great love. I used to try to explain myself to people who’d already made up their minds about me. That right there is madness, and I’m trying to prove to myself these days that my brand of mad is more quirky than self-destructive. It isn’t fair to keep a scorecard of who hurt you when you aren’t keeping track of who you’re hurting; it isn’t fair to keep score of how much you do for others as a defence against seeing yourself clearly, and your own weaknesses. Letting go was always hard for me but thanks to a few lessons I’ve become a professional of late.

No one is responsible for your self-esteem, for your validation, for your self-respect, and if you give people that much power over you, you have to realise that doing that is an exercise in agency that only you can put a stop to. We are only responsible for ourselves. We cannot control other people – what they think, how they react, what their context is. We have to respect it though and realise that whatever hurt we feel, and whatever retribution we think we’re owed, we might never get our absolution, our moment of reckoning. And who needs it anyway? Shake the dust. Burn it to the ground. Build something new and beautiful from the ruins of a life, a love, a friendship that maybe wasn’t for you, or isn’t for you anymore. It’s okay to walk with shaky legs and cling to trees in the cruel winds of other people’s opinions. But in the end let their winds fuel your fire. You are far too radiant and magnificent to let it blow dust in your eyes.

Kindlings, 4, or ‘running’

The day comes when you stop running.

You’ve told yourself for years that that’s not what you were doing. You weren’t running from the foundations that shifted, quicksand like, under your feet. You weren’t running from the person you were told not to be.

You ran, though. And when those things weren’t in view anymore it started looking like you were running towards something more.

Then you stop. Something or someone brings everything to a halt, and the world hits you in a haze of headlights and night air and frenetic sounds building to a crescendo around you in the street. You see everything flash before your eyes: your weakness, your pride; your fear. The mechanisms you’ve used to bury these primal feelings under newer, prettier insecurities.

In that moment you have a choice.

You can flick away the noise and get in the car, take two pills and wake up tomorrow to carry on as usual. Or you leave the spectre of your running self to die in that street, die there with her hollow eyes and hollow bones you could light a fire inside. Leave her there – leave the jacket you forgot in the cloakroom – leave it all. You will never return to live in that skin again.

I’ve faced these choices on a few occasions in my life. In the past I’ve sometimes made the mistake of choosing the former, only to end up there again. It’s the easier, softer path; it’s cushioned in excuses and blame. It’s when you choose the latter that you choose the harder road, the one that involves waking up every morning learning to know yourself anew. Who is this girl I’ve lived with my whole life, and never recognised? When did she lose her faith in people? When did she stop blowing bubbles on street corners and handing out cupcakes to strangers?

When did feeling pain become her only source of feeling? And how do we make it stop?

Old ghosts follow and encircle us. I have never feared them. But the dead remnants of your soul are a little different; a little more powerful, a little less forgiving. Healing is cauterising, is fire and sacrifice. It is the ash that fertilises new ground for life. The soul cannot move forward in light, in newness, without picking out its scabs and sores and burning away the pestilence that holds it back. Break down the walls you hid behind and use them as your foundation.

You stop running. You look at who you’ve become, who you are. What you’re worth. What you could be worth. What you want, who you want in your life. There are no more excuses. There is no one left to blame. You survey the destruction, the smoke and bone and blackened feet. You gather the ashes to plough into the tree sunken into your spine after all these years carrying other people. It’s just you, now. There’s no place for failing. Upright and strong, you begin to walk again, slowly, tenderly, intentionally. You will bloom when the time comes. You will bloom better, brighter. You will never return to that girl again.

Metric – A Tribute (2012)

Today is Thursday! So let’s have a throwback to a poem I wrote way back when I was 19 and very, very naive (isn’t naivete beautiful?). If you were a follower of my old blog ‘Insomnia&Sexytime’ you may remember it.

This poem is inspired by the chorus of the song Black Sheep by Metric. If you haven’t heard it before, give it a listen, because it’s really cool. If you’ve seen Scott Pilgrim you’ll know it anyway 🙂

 

Sending you my love on a wire
Like two shadow robins meandering along treacherous barbs
Black and art house the way arty can be
For me
The dancing light echoing off your wire palms

My love, on a wire
I balance myself
And it bends in the middle
So I’ll do what I can
Sending my love
Through heart-shaped wires running up burning telephone poles
To reach you and kiss your forehead
Because chaste is what we are
Through distant pathways and laugh lines encircling the same silver moon

Wiring myself to your faraway love
My love
I send you beauty in the form of impassioned arguments and crashing bursts of anger
A mischievous laugh echoed by a shaking head
Moulding myself to the contours of an imaginary heartbeat
Imagined because it has been an age since I’ve heard it
So, my love, I will love you with
Laughter
And the occasional tasteless joke
With thoughts of your crystallised eyes and sensitive hands
Maybe you’ll remember me
Just today

Because we never forget.

My love, I send you my love
Through this bitter wire in this bitter world
Knowing only that you
Are true
In your own confused, headbanging-against-the-wall way
And you will catch my blown kisses with the fluttering of your lashes
The wire becoming a thousand tingling bubbles on your sleeping, loving face.

I send you my love
On this wire.
Always.