girl on fire

creativity, radical self-care, feminism, recovery.

Others May Idle In A Retrogressive Groove

Words are not coming at the great speed they used to, and I don’t like it. 
Write about what you know, they say.
All I really know at the moment is writer’s block. Nobody’s written anything new and original about writer’s block in, oh, a couple of centuries maybe? But that’s okay. Tonight it is enough to tap at the keyboard and see something, anything, appear on the screen. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It doesn’t even have to be finished. I just need to make something. I need something to show you all that I am here, that I still exist. No editing, no backspacing – well, okay, a little bit of backspacing – but no compulsive filtering this time. Just me, here, tapa-tapa-tapping. 

Pennies have been dropping all around me in the last twenty-four hours. That I really am doing okay – nowhere near as bad as I think. I have not been neglecting as many things as I think. I am really good at saying “I am not working or growing or moving or learning”. But let me tell you something: pain is growth. Pain is learning. I’ve had periods in my life where I felt spiritually and emotionally invincible and I learnt jack shit. I learn when my back is against the ropes and I have no other options but changing and growing and adapting. Keeping still is not an option. But here’s what is an option: keeping it in the now. Staying present. Being aware that this call in work that feels eternal will not last forever. Understanding that fear moves through my brain like storm clouds speeding across the night sky: in a few hours, nobody would ever guess what had occurred. It’s okay to be in pain: pain spurs me into action. If I am unhappy I must accept it or change it, and I am not too great at acceptance. So I change. 

Today in work I took my feet out of my shoes and pressed my bare soles to the wet grass outside and thought yes – I am with this earth and of this earth and in this beautiful ‘now’ place.

Tonight I put my hand on my friend’s shoulder and willed all the heat and love and energy in my body to pass through my palm straight to her heart. 

I don’t have to filter anymore, I can be real and raw and show up here, because realness and rawness are engaging and beautiful and scary in a way that makes me want to chase that feeling. So here I am: I am not a ‘great blog post’ machine and I never will be, but just for now, just right here tonight, it’s okay just to give my unfiltered thoughts. I can go back to expecting too much of myself anytime I like but tonight I am happy to be me. 

A Little Snippet

I used to get so drunk I could not feel anything: I did not even feel the glass cutting my feet when I took my shoes off in clubs. To a girl who has always felt like she wears her nerve endings outside her skin, that’s really something. I drank so much that I could wear dresses made mostly of zips and underwires and bare my shoulders to December air and never feel the tightness or the cold. I did funny things, sexy things, stupid things, shameful things, but I never felt any different. I never felt anything. I laughed and shed tears and shouted and kissed and sang but it was all the same to me. The mornings, dear God, in the mornings I felt everything, but the nights? They were mine. Making friends didn’t feel like anything; neither did losing them. All I felt was thirst. Get another round in, make mine a double, I used to want to drink enough to wipe the slate clean. I called it ‘clearing out the cobwebs’, though how that many cobwebs could build up in two days since my clear out remains a mystery to me. I experimented for a while with the best way to get to that clean serene state. The softly-softly approach of large glasses of wine just to cushion myself from harm, then suddenly the third bottle smacking me headlong into oblivion. I remember the gassy sicky feeling of trying to only drink beer because I wanted to be good, and feeling too aware of the fullness of my belly and shouting ohfuckit and buying shots. Spirits were the express route. Playing bartender and pouring the drinks for the girls coming round, swigging out of the bottle in the kitchen with my back turned and lighting a cigarette to cover my vodka breath, all the while making sure my glass held twice as much as theirs. Never overthinking it, just doing it. Days were for thinking, nights were for drinking.

Prompt Me 4: Barefaced.

This week’s prompt was a beautiful quote from Gabourey Sidibe. Iy inspired me to film a video with no makeup, which as you will tell from watching the video I found a fairly difficult experience. Go check out Elloa’s beautiful contribution at http://elloaatkinson.wordpress.com

Prompt Me 3: Thriving

So today is the day when our new Prompt Me videos go live. Between me starting a new job, and Christmas, this has taken a little longer than it usually would. I actually recorded this video on 15.12.2013. I was going to re-record it today but when I watched it I felt that the vulnerability and nerves and unguarded honesty is what makes Prompt Me good, so I figured I would stick with it. This video is basically a tribute to the gorgeous people who have supported me, but it is too short to really thank everyone.

Mum, Dad, Ceri, Claire Barlow, Jemma Barka, Clare Campbell, Elloa Atkinson, Jacquie & Chase Johnston-Lynch, Carla Hennessey, Billy & Mandi RIley, Kim Eaton, Mich, Yvonne Thwaite, Alison Havery, Alex Kershaw, Alex Dale, Sue Gillies, Sue Scullion, Shona Carmen Paisley, Raddy, Simon Dunwoodie, Terry McCoy, Hema Patel, Rhys Owens, Clare Donnelly, Ali Hodson, Linda Lewis, Kitty McRobert, Kate Russell, James West, Rebecca Odman Stonehouse, Emma Craven, Sara, Julia D’Arcy, Sian Witheridge, Karen, Stu Robinson, Maria Gornell, Cheryl Kirk, David Ryan, Jade Kenny, Catherine Mather.

Prompt Me: Walking as Authorship

Elloa Atkinson (http://elloaatkinson.wordpress.com) and I have started a vlogging project where we use a prompt to inspire a weekly conversation between us as loving friends separated by geography. This week’s is about the quote “Writing is one way of making the world our own, and walking is another.” by Geoff Nicholson, from “The Lost Art Of Walking”. I did a video about how I authored my recovery from depression and anxiety by trudging through the city centre of Liverpool feeling generally pretty confused.

Elloa made this beautiful video of the South Downs and her experiences of making the world her own: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iicyCa7u–g

Please watch, like, comment, subscribe and share your thoughts on this week’s prompt.

I’m already excited for next week!

Prompt Me: “Everybody needs a place”

Elloa and I are doing a new project where we make videos responding to prompts. This is my first one. I’m going to let this video speak for itself because I am scared..!

http://elloaatkinson.wordpress.com

more to come

If I am fertile ground
Then every time I write
I use up
All the nourishment I have absorbed

After every piece is done
I need to lie fallow
Wait a while
For inspiration to grow in me again

This is long, slow, sore
I feel stretched, distended
By the work
Of consuming the universe

If I am just a vessel
Then every time I write
I empty
Myself of all beauty

Wait for it again
To come without warning
Take me away
Give me words I haven’t earned.

me reading from my manifesto of healing

Make It Magnificent

Happy Birthday Jon
13th September 1988 – 1st October 2008
I love you x

Every Body

Author’s note: I am usually of the school of thought that unfiltered expression is a great thing. Anything good I’ve ever written is usually a product of tapping thoughtlessly away at my keyboard half-concentrating on something else. And I have never, ever edited anything. However, I wrote something the other night which was angry. It was okay writing, sure, but I wasn’t happy enough with it to post it straight away. So I left it for a little while. Here is my first ever second draft. Anger removed and replaced with pure love, because pure love is what I want. I am tired of anger. 

Here is a revolutionary statement: I am in love with my body.

I am in love with the marks and lines I have, that map out a life of rebelling against society’s ideals.

I am in love with the way you can touch my tummy for hours, and it will still surprise you.

I am in love with the way I give the best hugs in the world because I have strong arms and great padding.

I am in love with the way some girls really are just bigger than others.

I am in love with the fact that you will NEVER be ready for this jelly.

I am in love with my thunder thighs that look so good in a short skirt.

I am SO in love with the way my big old boots make a satisfying stomp every time I strut down the street feeling fierce in my plus size dungarees.

I am in love with the way my body carries me to my friends when they need help.

I am in love with the way my body gives love.

I am in love with the way I am the best lover I will ever have.

I am in love with the way my hands can touch-type and smoke a cigarette at the same time.

I am in love with my tiny little nose.

I am in love with my body hair for sprouting tiny rebellions all over me.

I am in love with my scars and my stretch marks and the messy artwork they pattern across my stomach.

I am in love with my cake shelf (it’s where I keep my cake)

I am just truly, madly, deeply in love with the whole of my fine-ass curvy equal parts Miss Piggy and Beth Ditto self.

And if I lose weight, well, that’s cool, but it’ll always be riots not diets with me.

(Despite the irony of me being unable to find that tshirt in my size)

Here are some more revolutionary statements:

Every body is a good body.

My body is nothing more and nothing less than the place where I store the important stuff. This body contains my head and my heart, and yeah, probably a few dozen doughnuts too.

Nobody who really matters will ever really care about my fat rolls when my hands write words that inspire people and my tongue speaks love bilingually.

Nobody will be counting calories when I’m sharing my experience, strength and hope.

I am in love with your body too. And yours. And yours. And Clare’s. And Elloa’s. And Jacquie’s. And Jemma’s. And my mum’s. And every body I have ever seen, met, touched, kissed, loved or just passed on the street. They’re all perfect, whether your abs are wobbly or washboard.

The scars and stretch marks on my stomach are interchangeable now, from when I used to cut my stomach because it was the focus of all my hatred. I would never let anyone touch my stomach then. I was ashamed that I had added to my own ugliness. But now, I let my friends rub my belly for luck. I place my hand on it to centre myself because it’s where my soul resides. I see the scars and stretch marks and rolls as part of me and I love them like I would if they belonged to someone else. Every body is a good body.