Hello lovely humans, I’m assuming you are lovely as part of your whole! To those of you having a tough day sending love and gentleness your way. Its been a humbling time for me this Summer and here is a blog post I wrote some months ago and wasn't ready to share until now. I’ve been challenged to face the realities of the social system and my difficulties coping within it head on. My DLA was ending and I realised that I was in mounting debt with no source of income. As I moved further away a mounting sense of anxiety and disconnection was growing in me. A familiar sense of chaotic energy pulling me into the abyss. Since then I've also lost my closest friend Mally the canine and so it's been and continues to be a really testing time and a call for intense transformation...
In my plans to travel and sell it became clear that at some level I was operating from a place of disconnection and fear. I came to a point on my journey and I could hear within me a small voice saying over and over again ‘I want to go home.’ As someone who never had a stable base growing up and who was sent away to school at the age of 11 the idea of home brings with it many complex emotions and in particular grief. A grief beyond my own lifetime held in my genetic inheritance. I have dismissed the ‘I want to go home.’ as an impossibility, a confusion, an unbearable, unfillable void.
Any thought of safety felt like a loss waiting to happen or a trap. This harshness was a way of coping as a child and continued to be for me as an adult. Not being able to locate home, in my body, in my family, or in community the only way I was able to sense belonging was in my relationship to my wider environment.
I love Calderdale and I grew up by the sea. In my heart the ache for salt on my skin and the breath of the tides continues however in Cornwall and Guernsey I was not able to find the human love and intimacy and acceptance that I needed to grow and begin to develop a sense that I was a part of the human world as well. Very slowly with the wisdom, patience and shared trauma and healing of many people I have begun to feel a sense of welcome and safety in this place. The woods, valleys and hills while foreign to me gave me a sense of shelter, seasonality and of a stillness and shadow that was different to the endless horizons and wild waves and winds and exposure of my coastal experience.
When I wrote this I was moored at Psalterhebble and walking by the Calder at Copley. I encountered Druid’ Saddle, lots of raspberries and saw a kingfisher peeping its way down the river. In these small moments such bliss, a peace and expansiveness and a love of this life. Part of me is still very confused as the hypervigilance and running away become less effective coping strategies. I listened to the voice that said I wanted to go home. I turned my boat around and headed back to face my financial crisis and fill in the forms for my PIP application but I don't know how to do it another way yet. This realisation of not knowing how to do 'it', is becoming deeply liberating, with comes a sense of openness and curiosity and vulnerability and a need for connection and support that are quite natural but also very rare in our disconnected culture that seems to revere, isolation and competition.
Knowing that ‘home’ is not a simple concept. It is a feeling in the body. A sense of rightness. For a long time running away from myself felt like home, felt familiar and somehow gave me a sense of agency. It also caused me to feel like my spirit was a kite on the end of a very long, very tight string and that disembodiment which still happens creates incredible pain and tension.
I realise that in staying I can no longer perform and hide if I am to avoid disassociation and pain. I must deepen my commitment to myself, my values and my authenticity and that means letting my vulnerability and difference be seen. It also means committing to my chosen family and trusting that there is space to come and go and grow together in that unconditional loving. It means being willing to be disliked, to say no. To say yes! To be available, to ask for help… etc! It’s not easy for me to contain my competence and my vulnerability. I struggle to cook for myself safely to organise my thoughts and interact with social systems. Lots of basic social interactions cause me crippling anxiety. As long as I can remember I have had suicidal thoughts and confusing and attacking voices, nightmares and other strange experiences. Over the years I have unpacked a lot of this stuff and now I am able to relate to it with a level of compassion and resilience and even find power and magic underneath all the pain. This is a miracle.
I don’t usually talk about this stuff in detail because I have internalised a lot of shame and stigma about trauma, disability and what is called ‘mental illness’. I grew up in a family that was deeply disconnected and traumatised. In school and at home people punished me/ attempted to fix me for the way that I moved and talked and shamed me for my difference, emotionality and sensuality and abused me in my openness and my unusual expressions. I have had to move out and let go of that original experience of what it is to be a human and become another person. This means letting go of the past again at a deeper level and of the idea of myself as a robot or a person already dead. To let go of fantasies of death or running as as escape when things get tough. Now I find a lot of joy and excitement in my body and in my difference and I am going to get strong so I can create space for differently able people and people who do not fit white supremacy’s false ideals.
I realise I have unwittingly created a sense of safety that has partly been possible by telling myself I wouldn’t be staying alive much longer and certainly wouldn’t be in Calderdale for long. I still don’t know whether the valley is my place in the long term but right now my people are here and my body is held here and that feels like a kindness to allow myself to have that and to develop the work and offerings that I have to give back to this community and land and to sustain myself.
Living on a boat allows the part of me that doesn’t understand humans or socialising some safety. I can still come and go (with help ;) ) as I learn to let people in and I have a container where I can shut the door and hide away. Whoever I am going to be, the abused, lost, abandoned part of me can’t be in charge anymore and it can’t be shut out either. I don’t know how to do this next level of staying and yet I feel I am being allowed to stay with all of me and that I am ready to offer my gifts to this network of human and non human connections as I grow in awareness, stability and capacity to let go of rigid internal structures and let life guide me.
I locate much of this as inherited trauma which needs holding and working through and that work is rich in it's potential to help us reopen to a heartfelt connection where we slow down, hear marginalised voices and work to envision a more equitable and just human system.
One breath at a time folks! I’ll be offering a Samhain Celebration with my beautiful and talented musical friends Jamie and Sophie from Slow Town Clock and Sailor/Ghost. I’m also offering opportunities to work with me one to one over the next few months.