I’m honoured and excited to have had a guest blog published on Rachel Kelly’s website towards the end of November, on the subject of writing, and in particular on how writing poetry has been so significant for my well-being. I’m immensely grateful to Rachel for her support and her kind words, and for her inspiration and motivation to keep going both with self-care and with writing! And I’m grateful for the opportunity she gave me to share this – I hope you enjoy it!
I’m struggling to write.
I’m even struggling to write about the fact that I’m struggling to write. I’m sure there is a name for that. Very struggling – no, not that, that doesn’t even make grammatical sense. See – I’m struggling to write.
I think it’s been getting worse over a period of months. Like a dull ache or pain you really don’t want or can’t be bothered to take to the doctor, it’s now getting to the point where it’s harder to ignore. Though what I’m finding it hard to ignore is the absence of something – of the motivation, the ease of expression, the anticipation, the satisfaction, the catharsis.
It used to be the case that I would feel anticipation during the week as I wondered what I would write about on a Friday or Saturday night. With one therapy session early in the week, it often took a few days of ‘processing’ in the background for an idea to ‘grab me’ and when it did, it was a surprise and it was exciting to sit down and see what transpired when I started typing. At first there was pleasure simply in the writing and in the spontaneity. Later, though the writing was often harder and sometimes there was less spontaneity and more ‘planning’, there was also pleasure in the editing, the ‘crafting’ and in the creation of a narrative.
It threw me a little when I went from one to two therapy sessions a week. The pace changed, and there were no longer a few ‘clear days’ of processing in between a therapy session and writing. My first few months of blogging felt as though they were about getting to grips with BPD and how its symptoms manifested in my life, and about trying to better understand the therapeutic process. Each week the ‘topic’ was different – a different BPD symptom to explore, a different snapshot of therapy. With two sessions a week, deeper work was being done. Work that was harder to write about – more work than it was even possible to write about. Work that often needed to be pondered for much longer than a week, before it could be written about. It felt as though I was writing much more about therapy, or about how BPD manifested within the therapeutic relationship, than about BPD symptoms themselves. Rather than the topic being different every week, it felt as though there was more continuity between what was being written – evidence, perhaps, of me starting to tie things together, to see connections, to link the past to the present. Evidence, perhaps, of starting to use the power of narrative not just in telling a story, but in unfolding and moulding a life.
When I went to three sessions a week last September, things changed again. What was true of the change from one to two sessions, was even more true this time. As time went on, writing captured only a fraction of what was happening in session and in my head. The interweave of thoughts, feelings, ideas, connections to the past, analogies, metaphors, often took weeks if not months to be processed and understood sufficiently to end up on the page. One ‘idea’ for a post would turn into several installments due to the volume of material to write about. But then, as with therapy, something would happen, some event would take place and cut across that train of thought and I would have to leave it, incomplete, until it could be picked up again in future. I have a long long list of posts now, still to be written – some of which are part of what I might have considered a ‘series’, had not other events and emotions intervened.
Over the last few months I have sensed that my writing keeps coming back again and again to many of the same themes. Sometimes it all feels a little repetitive. There are no longer ‘surprises’ in what I might write about – there is simply an overwhelmingly long list of possibilities. And it has always been the case that some of the most precious and personal moments in therapy are not written about at all – they are kept in the closest part of my heart, almost too private and intimate to share. Sometimes, many months later, they feel okay to bring into the light of day – but not always. And the more time has gone on, the more of these moments – or even prolonged episodes – there have been.
Part of me wonders whether my relationship with my writing is simply undergoing the same sad fate that some of my other relationships have suffered. After eighteen months to two years a certain boredom sets in, and a lack of excitement. Maybe I just need to fall in love with writing again. Not an infatuated, obsessional kind of love, but a quieter, more enduring and more truly connected kind (with a complete and healthy disregard for blog statistics – that would be good!). Perhaps progress means the ability to stick with something, and maybe writing and I can find a way to better satisfy each other again, to deepen our relationship, and to re-introduce some spark and spontaneity.
If one is having trouble with one’s relationship, one can go to therapy. Luckily I’m in therapy – and so perhaps I need to talk, in therapy, about this relationship that I have with writing about therapy. And then I can write about it. Maybe. Or write, full stop. Or maybe, stop. Which is right? Who knows?
I’m struggling to write.