I am a dreamer. I dream often and regularly remember bits, if not all, of the fantastical tales and crazy adventures I have during slumber. The weird and wonderful worlds I inhabit whilst sleeping can be a rich source of inspiration for my writing whilst awake, and I keep a note book beside my bed to jot down anything I want to hold on to. Sometimes when I look back at them my night-time scribblings make no sense at all, but once in a while when I check my notebook I am amazed at the insight or poeticism I find there.
A few days ago I had an unusual dream, even for me. Instead of being in the dream, playing ny part, I was an observer. And as the scene played out before me it wasn’t live action it was a black and white cartoon, all rough drawn and jiggling. I can only remember a very small part of it but it was such a striking visual images that it inspired a poem.
I can see myself in the corner In a small stark patch of light All couched and folded inwards In a world of black and white
The darkness that surrounds me Is slowly pressing in The fear of it constricts my chest I feel it chill my skin
But flickering, and glorious A white light comes to shine And rages ‘gainst the darkness In this corner small of mine
So sensing something easing I dare to lift my head And see the light expanding And catch a glimpse of red
I can see me in the corner In a growing patch of light All couched, but less uncertain In a world of colours bright.
Although I have been writing for decades, it is only more recently that I have had the courage to share my writing. It started with a writing group my husband got me to join. It was, thankfully, a small group but still when it came to reading what I had written it was painful. My heart would thump, my mouth would dry and I struggled to concentrate listening to the work of other group members, as I swung between desperately wanting my turn to be over so I could listen and enjoy the others, and hoping we would run out of time before I had to read mine. The fact that they actually seemed to like what I wrote was unexpected, and such a relief, but I didn’t quite believe it. Since the group ended, I haven’t read anything to anyone, so when I was asked if I would write and perform a poem for a Christmas concert this year I was as surprised as anyone when the “yes” came out of my mouth. I was still really nervous, but my self confidence has grown hugely and I knew that I could do this.
The first hurdle I had to overcome was actually writing the poem. It’s strange how poetry can come so naturally at times, yet now I just didn’t know where to start. I had plenty of notice, but that really just meant more discarded first lines and more time spent fretting. Eventually I sat down a week before the concert and looking back at all the ideas and abandoned phrases from previous attempts to write, I realised I had essentially written a poem in pieces. All I needed to do was put them together in the right places and I had something that summed up what I wanted to say. However, it was now time to panic about actually performing it.
I love reading to my children, although now they are older it is not something I get to do so much anymore. I put on voices, and try to ‘express’ what I am reading in a way that is fun for me as well as enjoyable/informative for them. But dramatic reading to my kids is a far cry from a poetry reading in front of a group of mostly strangers. I tried many times, when alone, to recite it with the right expressive emphasis but it just sounded insincere (to me anyway).And then I made the mistake of recording myself on my phone, my voice sounds so strange outside of my head that it really dented my confidence.
I did it though.
I stood up with a microphone in my unsteady hand and looked around at the faces looking at me while I said the words I had written. I didn’t rush, I didn’t stumble over my words, and when I finished I heard applause! I walked off stage elated. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not about to rush off into the world of performance poetry, but I achieved something that Saturday evening. I did something that a previous me could never have done, and at the same time proved to myself that I am not a small insignificant voice that no-one wants to hear.
One night. A night like any other A night like none before, like none ever again
The night came like each before; The sun descended at the end of the day Making room for the moon and the stars Little did the sun know it would rise to shine on a world forever changed
A star A star unlike any other A star like none before, like none ever again
The star appeared so brightly shining It traversed the sky, piercing the night, A herald of hope that surely proclaims Love has come, the Divine love has been born for all
A Baby Born in humility Born in a place obscure and un-renowned
His a birth like many others, a mothers labouring Long and painful, but oh so worthwhile when a tiny cry is heard. Yet here was straw and dirt and animals in a borrowed room Little did the cattle know, that the baby warmed by their breath was the child Christ.
How well do we hide this story? Deck it out in tinsel and holly Obscure it’s truth with feasting and merriment Smother this grace with excess and greed
We no longer see the radical love that started it all We have turned from the Glory of the God who reigns on high, Yet deigns to stoop and envelop us in his unconditional love.
He is here now, waiting for each of us To clear away the wrapping To free ourselves from festive distractions And once again gaze in awe At the majestic humility of the babe in the hay. Almighty God with us.
I have soared through cerulean skies Catching my breath on the peaks of mountains With the warmth of the day on my face I have watched the clouds unfurl their stories before my greedy eyes. I have inclined my ear to the music of ravenous thunder My feet have danced to the beat of the rain. I have tumbled in the arms of the ocean as it rolled out it’s lofty promises to dry in the midday sun. And when skies grew inky cold I set my course by the whims of the wind And hung my hopes on the shining stars
In a world that abounds with infinite possibilities You Are my truth.
Occasionally, when I am in the midst of a bout of depression there come odd bursts of anger. Sometimes these are nothing more than the irritability that many experience as one of the symptoms of depression, or a result of the lack of proper sleep, another all too common symptom. Sometimes they are outbursts of cathartic rage against the injustice of mental illness. On rare occasions they are my brains way of saying “Enough’s enough! No more! No more hiding, no more apologizing, no more feeling sorry for myself. It is these outbursts that act as a catalyst, pushing me one more step along a journey of change, of better self understanding, and hopefully a step towards freeing myself from depressions’ grip.
I have had enough of cowering cowardice Of having so much to hide Of clutching my mysteries so tightly I have almost engulfed them in my very flesh And have shrunk with the weight of them. But no more curling my defences around my core As you creep advancing. I will open up, I will Unfurl and stand tall. I will lift my head high and Throw wide my treacherous arms. And as I grow taller with each breath I will let all who would see all. For through exposure I am Emboldened Enlarged Empowered And when I stand full free – Tall as the sky and naked as a babe You will have hold of me no longer. And I will smite you.
One of the strange things about depression is the effect it has on my relationship with my reflection. How I feel inside is often not obvious in how I look on the outside. Sometimes when I look in the mirror and see someone who looks like they’ve got it all together, someone who is doing life successfully, I am amused at how well camouflaged the truth is. But other times it catches me off guard, I catch a glimpse of my reflection and think ‘who the hell is that?, that’s not who I feel like today!’ On the worst days it scares me, I look in the mirror and know that it is not me that is staring back, and i feel lost. Like the real me is invisible, is disappearing. Thankfully those times are usually short lived and I reconnect with my reflection pretty quickly. I think it’s so important to remember than you really cannot judge a book by it’s cover. There is absolutely no way of knowing what is going on inside someone by looking at them, and the most confident, together looking person could be crumbling and fearful inside.
Who is this person before me now?
A familiar face worn by a stranger.
Tell me if you know her, for to me she is an imposter.
She hides the truth and assumes what she is not.
Her smile is a lie and the curve of her cheek a deceit
I cannot escape her for she is my reality.
Tell her to leave,
Command her retreat.
She is not welcome!
She makes a mockery of my pain.
She belies the truth of my self doubt.
How dare she confront me with the truth I would not hear!
Leave me to struggle with the demons of my choosing,
But for pity’s sake,
Take her away!
For years I was something of a chameleon. Not having the self confidence to just be myself I tried too hard to fit in. Depending on where I was going and in particular who I would see, I would adapt. I would wear different clothing, act differently, talk about different things. I could even enjoy things in one situation that I would then ridicule in another. I was simultaneously a goth, a rock chick and a Brossette! In the morning I could spend hours staring into the wardrobe choosing what to wear while I worried about who I would see that day, and if there was any likelihood of me bumping into someone who knew me as someone else. Gradually I became so used to camourflaging myself that I forgot who the real me was, I just knew that I was not quite comfortable being me. It’s been hard work finding myself again, and I am still not quite there, but for now I am content to be on the right path to my true self.
I am not who you think I am I do not intend to be Whatever you may think of this I will be true to me. I have to find the truth myself Of who I really am Or face the consequence of always Feeling I'm a sham. The truth of me has gotten lost Through the passing of the years But now it’s time to seek it out No more useless tears. I know it is no easy task that I have set my soul And yet it is essential now So I may become whole. Too much time and energy I've wasted on this scheme I am, I can, I will be So much more than I ever dreamed.