Lost and Found

29 Oct

This is a story of words.

I began as a word. I grew into a sentence, that formed into a paragraph, that turned into a story, that turned into a  life

You know how I said last week that I was putting a story about creativity aside  for the sake of Edwina’s tale. Well now’s the time for me to tell  the other story, the story I could have told you last week and chose not to. But the time feels right now. My blinds are drawn, my computer a-glowing and my fingers are itching. It’s a tale about the power of words  found, lost, destroyed and found again.

1967-1970

Once upon a time there was a little girl. She lived in a slightly scruffy terraced house in a University town- what could only be described as middle class suberbia. She had a mother and a father (luckily) and a cat. She was shy, drippingly shy. At school  in the lunch hour she would sit each day on a red-cracked bench in the playground and imagine all sorts of amazing things in her head. She would use her imagination like a shield.  Behind the shield she would shape images into words and let them grow into stories.

She used her imagination to create spider-web connections, connections she did not have with other people of her age. She felt distanced, removed, not normal. You see when she was born, her scream did not come when it should. Just not quickly enough. The oxygen molecules did not go to her brain fast enough, and there was brain damage- the-cerebral-palsy-physical- brain- damage kind-  a wonky gait, a spasming hand, a limp left side. But it wasn’t ‘that’ bad she could pass for ‘normal’. But she never did feel normal: never felt normal inside.  She felt-o-so- different;  and the words,  sentences and paragraphs she formed helped her address her difference.

The words were like a thick syrup or tincture to her;  they helped her cope with the sadness that had started to fill her up inside.  The sadness of who she thought she was. A sadness that set up residence and of which she became afraid. She became afraid of the world and the darkness began to seep into her very core and slip-showed in her little brown eyes.

As she grew the words became more and more important to her. They would sit in her mind for hours and want to burst forth. They needed an outlet and as she got older she found she could put them down on paper. The words could take a form and exist outside of her mind. This was quite often the only time she felt at peace.

1980:

She continued to write – through her  parent’s divorce, through broken friendships and through an increasing darkness that had started to manifest itself within her. (O the mind, mind has mountains, cliffs of fall/Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed*) Her words started to get darker and nastier. Teenage-hood beckoned and the gloom nestled deep within. She began to offer her words up to the gloom. A supplication. Her words, rather than taking her away, began to validate all that she thought was bad within her and all that was different.  She wrote about glass and shards and sunsets. The words became dead to her even though she was letting them live on the page. The girl, then the young woman, was getting depressed.

Drip. Drap. Drop. 

The big black-drop sheet came down. And the words and the darkness began to save her: BUT THEY WERE THE WRONG WORDS. 

Words used in the wrong way. If you take my meaning.

The words continued to form but as quickly as she put them on to paper they began to zip themselves up again. They settled back in her head and rested there pulsing, waiting for an outlet. Slowly they began to dry up. She lost her voice.

The hurt grew.

She told no-one about this, and she hid it all behind a huge grin and a mass of curly hair. She became the person everybody wanted her to be, and she began to vanish, just like her words.

She lost herself. O.

But then, as the late 1990’s beckoned and she made the decision to study another energy started to emerge- it was exciting, fierce, disinhibiting and unique. She began to be filled with a sparky force, something kinetic, and she found she could write again. In fact words poured forth from her like water from a out-of-control hose. They pressured out, and her sentences and paragraphs were extremely articulate, praised, and she started to succeed. This feeling she loved, and it helped her fight against the darkness. But inside she always knew, something uncomfortable was happening. But she couldn’t put her finger on it, and the burning light that she had become, grew and grew, and GREW. She became the light, and she didn’t give a damn.

Her output was extraordinary. It was easy: the plays, the magazines, the essays. For the first time she felt like a star in the cosmos. A big burning, beligerant star. Like she could. So far away from little red-cracked-sad-eyes-bench- girl. It was fantastic. But she kept on crashing. Up and Down. Down and Up. Then there were only downs.

NO more light. No more words. At all.

Eventually the darkness encased her and she retreated to her bedroom and never came out. She sat for hours and played miserable music and thought deathly thoughts. She stopped communicating and her mouth sealed up. Tombed in. Zipped right up. Then, then because she had nothing left to turn to, she started to write again. The words came back,  and she would hurtle towards her keyboard and her fingers could not move quickly enough to capture the anguish and stricture of her thoughts. The words began to run rampant.

They poured out, the words- into poetry (for poetry often can articulate the soul more than prose) and into free form;  and then she would wash herself clean, submerge herself,  because the words felt dirty, not hers but her mind’s. In the silence of the water, in the bath-depths below, everything would stop. And each day the words saved her, even though they were ill. They were her only hook on life. All she had-page upon page, letter upon letter.

2004

They said, ‘We have come to the conclusion, that you have bi-polar affective disorder, the sort that gives you increasingly worse depressions’

Bish. Bash. Bosh. Scoop these up: Lithium Carbonate. Sodium Valproate.

The words disappeared once more, and really for good she felt. Irrevocably gone. Sealed up. Diminished. Self-Eradicated. Zombified . The little lost girl again, but this time with no shield. Periodically she would try to write and no words came. So she started to paint. Still expressing but it was still not the same.

2004-2011

It took her 8 years of hard’ talk-talk work’ to see the light again. Words not paged but spoken. In-between times trying to write and create, and just getting frustrated at how she couldn’t. It came out in music and staves , but the elusive words; well, they were always just..out..there…….

*

I/NOW

Here,  Now.  I can honestly say that when I started this blog-site  my words truly came back. They flowed. I truly became creative again. It started off for my group but it’s now also become about you. And the words that I’m writing now are the right words. They feel right. They’re not formed to feed an illness; they are not a shield. They come from a healthy need to express and to share. There’s no sadness there. No need to use and abuse words. It’s just there in me beacuse I am me and I like to create.

This is a poem about my writing that I wrote at the time:

Bi-polar makes you think that life is black and white. It makes you think your creativity is black and white, so if it goes as it does when you’re ill (or the words turn into something shard-like and destructive) you think they wont come back, that the creativity is gone for good.  But as I’ve moved from darkness into light and into health I’ve come to realise that creativity isn’t constant. There is an ebb and flow to it. It’s not always there, and it comes when you are inspired, and  when you act upon it and share it, like for this blog each week.

Now ‘I am a Landscape’. I don’t need to hide behind my words or fear that they will vanish, even though I worry nothing will come out each time I think what I’m going to write about for you. It’s a matter of a growing trust in myself and my words. I don’t have to fear the act of creation because I can hold strong like a mountain  or  be soft like snow. Now my creativity is in me and given. Like my orange intent above. There is no illness-indulgence attached. It’s all there I’m lost and I’m found. My words were lost and are now found. And now I have only more words and creations to gain. I am a Landscape, and long may it continue!

‘Aren’t autobiographies born in a question we ask ourselves-how did I get to this point? Don’t we look back over this path and tell ourselves a story? This is how it happened. This is who I am. ‘ Friedrick Weisel

If you have ever experienced the loss of your creativity, I’d be interested to hear your story too….

Thanks once again for your interest!  All the very best.

n.b.

ARTIPEEPS CATCH-UP:

  • Hoo-Hooo! Watch-Out, Watch-Out ARTIPEEPS HALLOWEEN HOTCHPOTCH is about this Wednesday. Our first multi-collaborator Halloween-themed post will be unleashed into the world. Look at it if you dare………
  • Our Visitor Peep, Susan O’Reilly, has another 4 poems up. She is really keen for some feedback, so (if you do have time) do take a look and respond.
  • Flash Fortnightly Starts from the 7th, your dose of short fiction every other week from Laura Besley
  • And we’re shortly starting up a FabFiction Page, so if anybody would like to share their prose and/ or poetry  do let me know via the comment box or @ArtiPeep
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2 Responses to “Lost and Found”

  1. orwell531 October 30, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    This is a very moving, honest life story told with courage you so beautifully own and also bravely share. Thank you for this good work.

    • ArtiPeep October 31, 2012 at 5:38 am #

      Thank you Orwell351. It’s a story I’ve wanted to tell and share for a long time with the intention of trying to communicate the ebb and flow of creativity and how it does come back (unless , of course you’re EM Forster) :).

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