Voted as your favorite contributor to the the 1st edition, Write To Tell has censored this blog post with the writer’s permission.
Well here goes…no, that’s not right.
Once upon a time…hang on, wrong genre.
Dear Reader…oh for f*ck’s sake.
Editor’s note: (because that sounds all officially like I’m a proper published poet even though I obviously edited this because otherwise there’d just be a blank page with “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do” printed in teeny tiny letters at the bottom because no editor with any self respect would be able to “work with this sh*t”. There’d also be a pair of googly eyes that I added because, well, they left so I’m running this show now!) I swear a bit. Ok, a lot. Basically if you don’t like swearing for emphasis (god knows how you emphasise anything, I mean it’s not like your voice has italics and caps lock modes)1, you’re not going to like me (which to be honest would fit nicely with the deduction my brain has already made as I am “a terrible, terrible person”). And if you don’t like parentheses or footnotes, then quite frankly, you’re f*cked. You should probably just skip to the poems.2 Maybe just skip to the poems anyway.
Ok, ok – I got this (brain: you definitely haven’t “got this”. The last time you’d “got this” it took us close to an hour to pick those damn rice krispies out of your slippers).
Editor’s note: Please excuse my client for a moment, she’s just having a panic attack. No no – it’s fine. Just don’t look her in the eye for a moment.
So this is my first ever blog. I know, you’d never tell, right? I’ve made it look so easy. What can I say? I’m clearly a natural….
Ok, evidently that’s not true. To be honest, I’ve never been a natural at anything. Unless we’re talking deep self-loathing, dropping / breaking / losing things, putting my foot in it to unfathomable levels of “Sh*t, please tell me she DID NOT just say that”, destructive (quite frankly erring on the side of sadistic) behaviour, or finding things to put googly eyes on. In which case, MOVE ASIDE: I’ll take these. I have a strong panic attack game too.3 All the good stuff, of course.
Awkward, self-deprecating jokes aside, although likely only temporarily as awkward-self-deprecating-humour-in-a-desperate-attempt-to-disguise-genuine-self-hatred has long been my overarching secret strategy for survival. I mean, it was until I f*cking publicly busted myself and will now have to come up with a new one…some weird crystal sh*t4 maybe, or animal whispering?5
I’ve always seemed to find life harder than other people appear to. I guess words have been my way to make some sort of sense of the overwhelming emotions I’m gripped with for no real reason6; this relentless voice in my head telling me I’m worth nothing. Worst than nothing, that I’m toxic. That the world would be better off without me. Safer, kinder; just better, really. There is nothing as cruel as your own mind if it decides it’s against you.
I’ll spare you the life story (I know, rather f*cking relieved about that, right?), but at my lowest moments I’ve always found that words are the only thing I have to hold on to. From hospital bedside notes and towering paper cut verse installations, insomnia-fueled musings and Twitter (which, if you follow me, you’ll see provides a wonderfully human-contact free place for me to document my somehow synonymously banal + downright weird inner monologue), to writing the opening paragraph of “that book I would definitely write if I had anything worthwhile to say and anyone would actually want to read my sh*t” every 6 months. Too many words, if I’m honest. Spilling out of me. Which in itself is emotionally exhausting, but with no filter, no logical control over when and where and how and who to say them too, it’s f*cking difficult to live in (a terrifyingly populated, semi-functional) society. My inability to conduct small talk, to know when to hold back, to know what is appropriate – well that, coupled with crippling social anxiety and an intense fear of the judgement of other human beings7 – has done a rather effective job of branding me (much of the time in the most humiliating and heinously awkward ways) as “probably best-suited to isolation”.
I can’t count the number times I’ve brought up death as the subject of conversation simply because my brain can think of8 – most likely because when faced with the presence of another human person and the need to vocally interact with them my brain literally wants me to jump out the window (or ideally self-combust in silence without leaving any smouldering residue so as not to “make a scene”) – nothing else in the world that would be more appropriate to discuss at that time. Procrastination monkey, panic monster9 and some sort of headless chicken that still manages to speak even though the panic monster cut it off “to avoid situations just like this when we’re all going to die and yet again it’s your f*cking fault Brian!”.
Many people who are emotionally suffering, struggling to keep going (or who have in the past and understand the complexity, the violently destructive emotional impact and isolation it causes) find it cathartic to write about. There are countless amazing writers of deeply moving, (necessarily) brutally honest and incredibly helpful articles, blogs and books about depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bi-polar, PTSD, recovering from abuse, trauma, tragedy, grief, and for these I am personally grateful as damn have I devoured a lot of their sh*t to help pull me out of the latest scarily dark place I’ve found myself in. I’ve just never been able to write in any shape or form that could be shared, or would be worthwhile sharing. That would resonate. All these emotions, all these words, just no way to use the latter to make any sense of the former. So instead they’ve sat heavy in my head (or scrawled on scraps of paper, hung hidden and indistinguishable as prose from art gallery ceilings, been repurposed into 280-character observational ramblings): my mind using them to rinse me of any last hope held of one day being freed from its inexplicably cruel voice. But in spite of that, having them there has still somehow calmed me; stopped me going under (words: 1 drugs: 0 on that one Mr GP)…the undulating shapes of calligraphy type, the soft beat of alliterative verse, the visceral transportation of beautifully crafted descriptive prose. And the facts. The information. The data. F*ck I’m such an emotional contradiction. So I’ve made sure I spend every moment I can out of my own mind, in the words of others: reading, or listening to a podcast, or doing a crossword. Or often doing all three at once because my mind is ridiculously loud and it often takes multiple things to distract the voices.10
Until this totally random, utterly uneventful (but for some reason seriously dark and emotional) Tuesday last year…11 I don’t remember much, other than that I just broke. On the train. On the way back from work. Four stops from my station. That the poor chap next to me looked on near traumatised and helpless and desperately scrambled for a tissue to give to this wailing stranger who had just started sobbing uncontrollably with no apparent trigger in a completely packed train of horrified commuters. That when he gave me said tissue it was all I could do not to collapse into his arms and bawl and shake like a frightened animal12. That when I got off the train it was raining. That this hot, salty mix of tears and pollution-infused rain was running down my face, taking my makeup with it in film-worthy dramatic style. The f*cking laughable mise-en-scene of it all. And that the words just poured out of me. Like they were falling out of the sky. And I just fell in love with poetry. And with words, all over again.
So now all these memories, all these thoughts, all these emotions, have sort of found their place. They sort of suddenly fit. All the voices of all these “yous”. The “you” who left me. The “you I let go. The “you” who failed me. The “you” who gave up. The “you” I breathe for. The “you” I’ll never know. All my “yous”. And this is them. Some of them, anyway.
Rather poignant ending after all that self-indulgent anxiety sh*t, no?
bare the weight
of my soul
#poet, from #allmyyous
- I’ve attempted yelling at the top of my voice to address the latter, but it’s acted more as deterrent – not an entirely bad result for an introvert with a paralysing fear of humanity (we’ll come to this later) if I’m honest – than accentuating feature.
- Although to be honest if you’ve made it this far you’re almost certainly one of my relatives / long-suffering friends – hey, you three! / dog sitter / poor colleagues with a decent Twitter following that I’ve guilted (brain: “See, I told you you were a terrible person”) into reading this, in which case might I suggest scan-reading for key phrases you can then confidently reference when I interrogate you to demand you tell me “Was it ok? It was ok; right? Of course it wasn’t ok. It was terrible wasn’t it? Oh god it was terrible and I was all me and sweary and you didn’t laugh once did you? Did you laugh? Was it funny? It wasn’t funny was it. Oh god it was terrible and I’m terrible and now everyone knows just how terr – erm, hello? Are you still there?” approximately 13.5 seconds after I’ve calculated that you’ve probably finished reading and had “plenty of time to take it all in”.
- I would love to say that Editor’s note was included for dramatic effect, but no – it actually happened.
- Quick note to caveat that hey, if the crystal sh*t works for you, I’m totally on board. Whatever the f*ck works for you. If it works, that’s awesome. I would just lose the crystals and invariably end up putting a curse on myself before I’d even bought the handbook. Which I would have lost anyway.
- See above note on crystal healing. All animals (and their whisperers) welcome.
- The good news is that I’ve recently found out that it’s not just me that feels like this whilst at the same time adding a 4th mental illness – with a proven therapy programme that might actually help better than the current pick n mix of drugs that I’ve taken for the past 13 years in the hope that it might, if nothing else, “at least calm [me] down a bit” – to my repertoire. Result!
- *Oh and also cats, but that’s for another blog (brain: “what the actual f*ck?! DO NOT commit yourself to putting us through this AGAIN!!!”)…
- I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise specifically to the poor chap who came in to interview at my company and (having just been asked to help him set up with his presentation) ended up having to listen to a solid 4 minutes of my telling him why being covered head to toe in just-microwaved porridge would be a FAR worse way to go than being burned alive. Apparently he didn’t get the job because he “didn’t have a presentation prepared”. I’m still not sure that was true. Sorry dude. I don’t think I ever got you that water you asked for either…
- By the way if you don’t get this Tim Urban reference, you NEED to check him out. You’re welcome, Tim. – @waitbutwhy
- Probably one of the reasons I love footnotes and parentheses so much to be honest. They’re like the double-shot Americanos of content.
- I genuinely wish it hadn’t happened like this. It’s totally lame. But it’s what happened. And it’s also totally in keeping with that synonymous banality and downright weirdness of my brain I mentioned.
- To that random guy on the train that Tuesday. I’m so, so sorry, and so, so, grateful You will forever be the nicest person I’ll ever sit beside on a train. And I’m glad I didn’t actually do the whole collapse-and-bawl thing to you as that would most likely have scarred both of us for life.