I have always loved words, language and the incredible things it can do. They can build you tall or break you. They can and do change the world. In fact they can take you away to brand new worlds or draw the one we live in into sharp focus.
My love began with my Great Grandmother, Nana; most of my earliest memories are of being read to by her.. She made words come alive for me, filling my imagination with so many stories. What a stack of books we grew! I am sure it could have reached the sky if we added all the library books too! I will always remember listening in wonder about a child in china making a beautiful fish kite and then flying it with many others filling the sky with a colourful shoal: A tree which grew through a house after a seed was dropped through a crack in the floorboards, the family living around and in it; a faraway tree and a winged flying rocking chair and a “naughty” brownie who kept a piece of cloth the Fairy Queen dropped as she passed him by. He needed it to keep him warm but feeling guilty he returned it only to die from the cold that night. Then to awake in heaven, greeted by a lamb, to be warm forever more all because he had done the right thing! How I cried after that and how outraged I felt. Why the Fairy Queen didn’t let him keep the cloth when she didn’t need it and he obviously needed it so much. It felt so unfair, as an adult I can see the religious message it was poorly attempting to teach but as a child it passed over my head and simply left me distraught for days! I think that is when I began to grasp that life is not always (or even often) fair even when you do your best!
Then there was the time I spent with my Grandfather.. This was playtime! He would happily turn his home upside down repurposing the furniture as forts or castles, grabbing ornaments to play parts in our little dramas! Had he still been married I know my granny would not have approved! Day tips, holidays, hanging out at his work and weekend mornings of pure blissful innocence lying in bed together with our arms in the air shadow puppeting grand tales onto the walls and ceiling or we would pretend our hands were spiders and play out spidery stories. This was his way of helping me deal with my fear of spiders; it did not work! No matter how hairy his hands were they didn’t help me deal with the presence of a real one! Saturday night TV dinners were best of all, Oh Yes, Skinny Chips while watching Chips or maybe Battlestar Galactica or Buck Rodgers: maybe Ted Rogers with his Dusty Bin or the fun of The Generation Game: but always The Muppet Show and a Lucky Bag.. sometimes a bowl of Trifle! He always had time for me and what times they were! The photo I have chosen to use on my blog are the shadow me and my shadow granddad: one of the few happy shadows in my life and ones I cling to dearly.. Happier times and all that!
Sound idyllic? It was a lot of the time during my early childhood. The good outweighed the bad back then. The dark crept in slowly at first but gathered speed until a time I found myself in the pitch black. I plan to write about those hard times here; talk about the little things I did to cope without even realising that was what I was doing. I am a survivor: I have strength and love but I struggle with self worth at times. Healing yourself is possible but there are always scars and shadows that will rear up from time to time.
I always planned on making words my life, I wrote all the time from as soon as I was able. I still have a hand written copy my Nana made of a Halloween story I wrote at school when I was seven..
The night I went to see my new house I heard a fire burning. I followed the noise. It led me to a door but the door was locked. Suddenly it got cold and the door flew opened. I saw someone with a black cape then I saw the witch queen’s face. I rushed down the stairs. The door was shut and locked. There was a cat door but I was too big for the cat door. Suddenly I heard foot steps coming down the stairs. I had to try going out the cat door. I only just made it and I rushed home. That night I could not sleep so I went to my mummys room but she was not there. I went looking and soon found I was in a cave. There were four cats and twelve bats and I rushed home and jumped into bed. The next day I found I was in the wrong house. I was in an evil witches house. It had seventeen spiders. I pressed a button and a body and blood fell all over the floor. It was a little girl. I ran and at last I found my mummy looking for me. I was safe now the witch had got the girl. Before we got out it went cold and we heard a noise oooooueee oue oueouoo ooo and we both ran away together.
“Splendidly Horrific” my teacher wrote! Quite macabre for one so young but I was always trying to catch glimpses of the late night horror shows through the seam of light at the edge of the living room door as I’d go for a night time tinkle! The old black and white monster movies enthralled me! Hey I would sing a long with Disney like all the other little girls but strange was exciting; Tales of the Unexpected, The Twilight Zone, Sapphire and Steele and Hammer House of Horror always fired my imagination!
I was always writing stories and reading them to my imaginary friends, a troupe of white mice! Disney’s Cinderella had a lot to do with their existence! As I grew a little older I would watch the news hoping to see the journalist Kate Adie. Oh how I wanted to be her! My friends who mostly wanted to be princesses thought I was very odd. My High School attendance was low, I had health problems and my Mother always had one reason or another to keep me at home. I often felt I was her Nanny and cleaner more than a daughter. These are bitter years for me: The darkest of times. My mother grew increasingly physically and mentally abusive, her mood snapping at the slightest provocation and always far worse when she was drunk. My new step-father used this to his advantage and I was stuck in an awful situation there too. All the people I trusted and relied upon had been pushed out of my life and so I felt all alone. As my sixteenth birthday approached I made plans for escape. I felt like a traitor to my siblings but I knew I would end up dead if I stayed. I had attempted suicide twice, the second time almost succeeding, not cries for help but the only exit I could see. I found myself a place to work as an apprentice journalist on a local newspaper in a town nearby and I found myself a place to live. A few months after my birthday I left home believing everything would work out now. I could not have been more green if I had been Kermit the frog! Things got so much worse.
It’s a long story! It’s not a nice story and it’s going to take time for me to be able to share all of it.
For now I will say that moving into a place of my own without my mother and siblings around me only made it so much easier for my step-father to get at me. After being surrounded by siblings I was crippled by loneliness. I became a wreck of a person as my world fell apart. The newspaper ended up closing down and that was the last time I was ever paid to write. The blows kept falling even as I tried to make things better. I was very far down the rabbit hole and had given up on seeing the light again when my sunbeam shone into my life and everything changed.
I have allowed the voices from my past whisper in my ear for all these years! They threatened my sanity, my self worth and planted fears in my head that took my own words from me. Economics took away writing for profit and I did nothing to chase it but they took away writing for myself. It feels hard to explain, the will to write was gone. Slowly the idea that I might try again has crept up on me but my imagination is still frozen. I think it may be time for truth. I think that perhaps writing my truth might cut the last ties binding me to the shadows. Today I am taking a bold step out into the light, for myself and for those I love, so they can finally see me doing something just for myself that makes me happy. I do hope my grammar isn’t too awful.. I’m a bit rusty you know!