For years at a stretch, I was locked down tight, living at the furthest distance possible from my own creativity, expending all my mental energy just trying to convince myself I was living the life I chose rather than the one that I let choose me.
I would stumble along for long periods of time fooling myself that I was happy; happy with my job, my friends, my girl but it was mostly a con – I was miserable. I always knew when things were coming to a head, though, because I’d start writing again.
That thing I’d suppressed had grown restless in confinement, it wanted out. Words would start to explode out of me like arterial blood from a fatal wound, fatal for my sham life.
It was at such times that my writing became the most honest and the most weaponized. I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone but people did get hurt. It seemed no one could read my words without asking, “is this me? Is this how he sees me?”
I burned a lot of bridges, which isn’t just a cliché; it’s a tactic of war. I guess it was really me I was fighting but Christ, the collateral damage was excessive. In the end, everyone left as I’d always known they would. No one can long love someone who does not care about himself.
And why didn’t I care? The simple answer was years of emotional and verbal abuse doled out by a step who thought love was expressed best by intimidation. I lived under the roof of a man who was the absolute king of the castle and would brook no challenge to his divine right to rule.
He was always toughest on me because I was the smart one, I could see through to the ignorance he tried so hard to hide behind his superior disdain. He never missed an opportunity to let me know how worthless and good for nothing I was. Eventually, I internalised his voice and carried it with me through my life’s endeavours.
Fortunately, by the time I met Jersey girl, I’d dealt with most of that. I still wasn’t living a creative life but I wasn’t living a haunted one either. And then the true miracle happened. I showed her my deepest darkest writings and she just said, “more.”
From that moment on I started writing every day and I haven’t stopped.
Words and image are my own.