Take me as I am
“We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.” – Ernest Hemingway
I was never a big talker. Big dreamer. Big ponderer. Full of wonder. Absolutely. I was also always plagued by a sense of the fleeting feet of time and our own insignificance as individuals in the grand scheme of things. Those two things drove me to write down my thoughts and record events and the people in my life from a very early age on the journey towards self-awareness, and to seek comfort in letting the written words of others live on in my mind and imagination. As I grew and my parents encouraged me, I found real joy in language, and in fiction – a way in which we can defy the First Law of Thermodynamics and create something out of nothing, sometimes very powerful things that live on beyond us and can change people and influence them in way that far outlive our brief existence.
To form a habit and discipline myself, I started as a teen and documented something every day. A lot of it was very uninteresting, as teenage existence often is, but it helped me to cope with growing up in difficult circumstances, to think and to contemplate memories that I might not have retained if I hadn’t written them down. I continued doing this throughout my years at university and only stopped this mad chronicling in my first real grown-up relationship. At the time it felt like my life had greater meaning and a witness in the person I shared my life with and spoke to every day (granted he was not really a person of substance, but hey…). After that relationship ended and I lived alone again, I found refuge again in putting my thoughts down in writing. They were much deeper now with the waters of life experience that had passed under my bridge during the five-year hiatus. Not everything I wrote was great, but it became a tool again for me to live in a world I felt I didn’t belong in, among people I seldom understood and who understood me even less.
The next time I stopped writing was for a large part of 2015-2016, when my words were with increasing frequency twisted and used against me by a disturbed and severely mentally unstable person I shared my space and time with. Shortly after that chapter came to an end, I was unexpectedly blessed by a kind-hearted and gentle soul entering my world. A thinker, poet, lover of music and dance, and thoroughly enthralled by me in a way I could not fathom. He has taught me so much about myself and helped me to unlock so many parts that had been locked away after the trauma of the previous relationship. I can only imagine where this road might yet take us if we persevere through the ups and downs of life. He loved to read my writings and my attempts at poetry (that he lovingly termed “prosiery”), but the close attention after having my spirit so crushed when my words were used as a destructive force by another, made me extremely self-conscious and afraid. It was a pitiful reason to stop, but the changes of life, moving in together, getting used to sharing space, new responsibilities, new freedoms, all became convenient distractions that hid the real reason.
Writing is incomplete – when expressing a didactic lesson or a particular self-contained event or monologue, that’s one thing, but for it to be used as a ‘complete’ picture of a person can never work, no matter how deep or prolific their work. I have found many say that I am one person face to face and seem to be another in my writings and try as I might I have not found a way to receive understanding of them as two facets of one stone. I used to liken it to an iceberg, where only a part is visible above the water, but this led to the inevitable and unfortunate analogies of shipwrecks, so I am abandoning that as a description from now on. I recently saw a program on television about an autistic savant and, while making no claims of the kind to their abilities, it occurred to me that maybe in some small way that would be a better way to explain it. While on the surface, not a lot seems to be happening or at times they experience things too intensely, underneath a lot of processing is taking place. Those thoughts, feelings and calculations inform what they do and what they say in a very innocent way, i.e. not motivated to manipulate, not an act. The two parts are integrated and function together as a whole. I am not autistic though and it is not a helpful explanation unless you have experience with such individuals, who vary as much as the sun and the moon in the manifestation of their condition and symptoms.
And so, I found a more practical expression of this idea in a custard ball* – the soft, warm centre and the crunchy, sweet and chewy exterior complement each other. The custard makes the dough ball what it is, not just when you bite into it and discover it’s there. They are not two different characters changing masks, they are two aspects or angles of the one whole. It is hard for us to accept that because when we have been hurt before, we expect other people to repeat the patterns and it colours our judgement by default even when we are conscious of it. We have to choose to approach the experience with new eyes and a new heart so that we can thrive.
I have made many mistakes and will probably make many more. I hope that we will continue to learn and grow together and that you can find joy and deeper understanding in this custard ball that life has handed you. I cannot guarantee that it will ever become truly easy, but I believe it will be worth it.
There is much work I need to do in the coming weeks. On my body, my mind and my heart. But for the bigger picture and the one who holds my hand through it all, I approach this task, as every day, with joy.
*Recently discovered at Asami’s Restaurant quite accidentally, not knowing what to expect when I took it off the conveyor belt.