I’d always wanted to be a writer but never imagined becoming one would be the result of putting the shattered pieces of myself back together.

I was dropping my best pal Linda home after work, sitting outside her house in the car, when I finally lost control and broke down. I couldn’t hide the tears any more as they stung my eyes and started to roll down my face. I hadn’t slept in days, I was utterly exhausted and felt physically sick. I hated myself for not being able to do the job they’d given me to do. Choking back the tears and sobbing, I told Linda about the informal warning I’d just received from my boss. Hardly the behaviour you’d expect of a Senior Manager in a Global Telecommunications Corporation but, in that moment, I had ceased to be that person. Though I didn’t know it then, I’d never be that person again.

I would describe the four months which followed as ‘the crisis stage’. In that time, I was barely able to do anything for myself and needed the constant help of a network of people around me. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and was prescribed medication to help with this. I had signed off work sick and eventually my position became redundant. The first positive, independent thing I did to help myself was to write a poem on Burns Day 2020 stating the value of living in the present. I had started to emerge from my dark cloud and realized I wanted to be a writer. Just didn’t know what to write.

Original poem from 2020
It's Time

It's time to stop worrying about who you were
or who you're not
or what you might be in the future.

Just look inside your heart.
Right here.
Right now.
In this moment.

This is who you are.
And it's ok to think you're amazing.

I started to read to help me write. It was while working through the logic of Ant Middleton’s book ‘The Fear Bubble’ that I came across another heart breaking moment of self awareness as I realized just how much self hate I was nurturing. In The Fear Bubble, Ant describes the notion of being stuck in a corridor, trapped by our fear and surrounded by doors which could take us off in a different direction. In true SAS style, we are encouraged to kick these doors in and set off on the new life waiting behind them. I’d been kicking those doors in for years. Every time I saw a sad, tearful version of me on the other side. I’d slam the door in my face and storm off down the corridor looking for something better. I wrote a poem describing my emotions.

The Guy Behind The Door

I walked off down a corridor and tried to find the door
to take me somewhere else cos I can't stay here anymore.
I'd kick it in or blow it out and storm the room inside
and anything against me would have nowhere left to hide.

At last I saw an open door and someone clear in view,
I knew at once to take him out was not the thing to do.
He stood across the threshold of the very door I sought,
reminded me of many things against which I had fought.

He wasn't like a warrior, was getting on in years,
was carrying a lot of weight. His eyes were full of tears.
In them I saw the fear and sadness deep within my heart.
He maybe wasn't playing it well but he was playing his part.

He'd stood before me many times, I'd always slammed the door
and stormed off down the corridor in search of something more
but now, at last, I realize, acceptance is the key.
The guy behind that open door for all his flaws is me.

The process of self acceptance was not an easy one. In fact I needed several counselling sessions with a psychologist. In every session, she opened a door to a part of me such as my vulnerabilities, fears or self loathing. Each time a door was opened, my heart broke. Finally I started to realize that I am not different from everyone else, that I have no need to hate myself and that it’s good that people love me. They are not deluded and I am not conning them.

For all the darkness in my life, I generate a lot of light and laughter as much as I can. I started to finally see the value in myself when I realized the value of the smiles people always seemed to have when they were around me. I wrote the darkness and the priceless value of the people who help into a song.

The Power Of Your Smile
The Power Of Your Smile

A dozen things to do but I just sit here.
Try to raise a smile but I shed a tear.
Sitting in the shadow of the darkest hour I know.
Need to run away but where to go.

I keep my feelings locked up deep inside.
It's best that way. Just easier to hide.
And if you get to close well I'll protect them with a smile
even though I'm hurting all the while.

But it only takes some simple things to force myself to do
to start to turn this lonely world around
and I think I might just make it every time I think of you
cos you always keep my feet square on the ground

and you always seem to smile when I'm around.

Yes it only takes some simple things to force myself to do
to start to turn this lonely world around
and I think I might just make it every time I think of you
cos you always keep my feet square on the ground

and you always seem to smile when I'm around.
You always seem to smile when I'm around.
You always seem to smile when I'm around.

These poems and songs and the messages within them mapped out the road home for me. Back to a place where I can believe in myself and even enjoy the world around me. It’s not all been easy. We’ve all struggled through the Covid Pandemic. Though not through Covid, I lost my Mother. But, having come to terms with the good and bad of who I am, I made it through. I never did get back into Telecommunications or Corporate Management. I now have a rapidly increasing portfolio of published articles and love my life as a writer. I was still very much in the crisis phase of my illness when I first told my mother I wanted to be a writer. She told me to sit down and get writing and that’s what I did. Of course I now dedicate all my writing to her memory and her light.

My Mother, Valerie Clements 1945 to 2020

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