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A voice in the wilderness

I need to speak out, communicate, own my voice.

Writing has always been a passion. I was lucky enough to have a short story published in 2013 by Lazy Gramophone. I also used to write an artist’s blog for I found both of these opportunities hugely rewarding because each one reinforced my belief that having a voice matters. The feedback was very positive. People let me know that they had felt touched by my words. I also used to write letters to my Grannnie when she was alive. And on her death bed, literally, she made a plea to me to never stop writing. So how can I honour her request? The challenge is fitting writing into my expanding creative practice. No, that’s not true. The challenge is being well enough to keep up with my aspirations. I write all the time. My Iphone is absolutely packed with notes which are poems, thought meanderings and ideas. I’m never short of ideas. But I’ve been short of fuel, equilibrium, and self-belief.

There are particular individuals I’ve yearned to have a dialogue with. Relationships that were touched by fire. I’m of the firm believe that talking helps. That when we are faced with challenges, we can come together by expressing our fears and longings. It’s all about love for me, not necessarily the romantic kind, but love nevertheless. Love involves vulnerability, and has this very same quality in common with honest communication. And vulnerability is something I know a lot about. It’s scary exposing my vulnerable side. I can’t control people’s reactions. I fear judgement. But there is a voice inside telling me that these are hurdles I would benefit from facing. And more-so, a hope that by sharing my experiences and reflections, I may be of benefit to others.

I notice all sorts of doubts and disconcerting feelings. Is this purely self-serving? Can I really offer something valuable to others? How much of myself am I willing to expose? So that’s there, and that’s as good a starting point as any, I suppose. Those of you already familiar me will know that I am a jewellery designer turned artist, and that I have another role within the field of mental health. I train public service staff about personality disorder, from a trauma informed perspective. When people ask how I got into this, I cower inside. The reason for this is that by explaining how and why, I must expose myself. I fear the reactions I may get, even though, to date, they’ve always been positive. Nevertheless, I fear the exposure because it feels like there’s nowhere to hide. But maybe I don’t have to. In introducing my work, I need to bring my very self into the conversation. I have a diagnosis of emotionally unstable personality disorder. I am an expert by experience, apparently. Of course, this doesn’t sum up the whole picture. It’s also true that I’ve always had a huge interest in psychology and how it impacts behaviour. And I love how neuroscience alongside an increasing knowledge of the nervous system add fascinating insights into this menagerie of mind. I can get pretty geeky, because I have a sense that we can use these tools to change our lives for the better. And that starts by making a difference to the lives of individuals who really struggle with feeling safe. Because not feeling safe leads to all sorts of problems in our relationships and in society as a whole. And here in lies the paradox: in order to show up and share our vulnerability we must feel reasonably safe. And that involves nurturing our relationship to fear. None of this works in isolation. We must work together to achieve these goals. I’m up for it, are you? Let’s see where this could lead…

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© Zoe Catherine Kendall 2020