Tag Archives: prose

the losing goal

I can’t believe it. My stomach sinks and I feel sick. My body is exhausted from the last 45 minutes of play. I truly gave it my all, pulled every bit of strength from my legs and pushed my brain to focus on our strategies and my eyes to notice every move the other side made. My body has given everything, but it wasn’t enough.

The other team is cheering and slapping each other’s backs, but I don’t even want to look at my teammates. I feel disappointed, frustrated that they didn’t do more to just get the ball back into our possession or to keep it away from our goalie.

Part of me knows that isn’t fair; they gave their all just as much as I did, we were just outplayed by a team who were that little bit swifter on their feet or cleverer in their feints and plays. I know that later we will watch back the footage and pick our performances apart, and that it will strengthen our teamwork next game. But for now I am shattered into pieces on the grass, crushed under cleats into wet mud, angry with myself and exhausted.


This week we were challenged to think about perspective. We were challenged to look at the same photo of a goal and to imagine that moment at the end of a match, either as someone on the winning side or as somebody just defeated. I was given the losers, which felt apt as I’m certain I’ve never scored a goal in my life! I managed to play ultimate frisbee for a year and never scored a single point, but still got a lot out of it.

I found it challenging to imagine the state of mind of a player at this point. I think it was hard to connect to because of my own discomfort with emotions like anger and disappointment. These frequently lead to dissociation when they come up because of how unsafe they feel to me. I don’t feel as though I could control them if I really let myself feel them and I cannot predict what it would be like.

It was valuable to have the opportunity to explore these feelings, even just for a short time, through the writing exercise. It was in an environment where I felt safe and in control, where I could choose when to dip in and out of those feelings. I can see a lot of potential for creative writing to help me with “touching” some of the feelings that usually feel so overwhelming that I simply dissociate.


Photo by Chaos Soccer Gear on Unsplash

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a change of purrspective

I am woken up by a noise outside. My ears are sensitive and I need them like that to keep myself safe, but it has broken many a slumber. I decide that the sound came from outdoors, a bird maybe. I’m comfortable where I am, curled on the soft sofa, so I choose to ignore the chirp and drift back into sleep.

A little later, I wake naturally as the room brightens. I can tell even with my eyes closed that the day is here. I take one last breath before I blink my eyes open. I stand up and stretch the sleep from my body, pushing my front feet down to elongate my legs and curve my spine. I walk around on the spot just to loosen my joints, then stand still to take stock.

I can tell that the house is still at rest. No feet patter across floors and I can hear snores from the other room on this floor. Why aren’t they here to give me attention? The day is here, folks! I want them to come and pet my back and fill my bowl. Ooh! Speaking of that, I’m hungry. So I hop down off the sofa and make my way down the stairs. I stop to peer out of the cat flap. It is light outside, but I can feel the cold air that drifts in around the door and I decide not to go out yet. It’s warm in here. I vaguely remember hearing the click and whirr of the heating coming to life. I pad onwards to the kitchen.

The tiles are cold on my pink toes so I quickly crunch some biscuits until the centre of the bowl has none in it (this means that it is empty). I go and lap up some water and feel small drops still on my chin as I turn around to leave the kitchen. I walk past my bowl and wonder why the people haven’t come to refill it yet. That won’t do!

So I climb the stairs and call out for them, “Me – ow?”

There is no response. Come on, people. Surely someone will pay attention to me? I continue my cry as I walk down the landing to the second set of stairs. I try for the smaller person, who is more likely to respond to me.

“Meee – yow!”

Aha! I hear movement upstairs! Footsteps! A door nudged open!

So I push up the final steps, running to the room now open to me. There is Anna. She looks sleepy, I think.

Hmm… I could go for a sleep too, I reckon.

She has already turned around and climbed back into the bed. So I walk over, push with my back legs until I am up and on the squishiness of her duvet. I walk up to her head. Her eyes are closed. And she isn’t stroking me? This won’t do!

I paw at her face to show her how to do it, in case she’s forgotten. She sticks one warm hand out of the duvet, eyes still shut, and strokes the top of my head.

I start to purr. Oh, this is lovely!


This week we were asked to write from a different perspective. It should be someone that we know well, and we could either write about their day or about ourselves from their point of view. The goal was to look at things from a different point of view to our own. I thought about the person I feel I know best and if I’m honest, the person I spend most time with is my cat. So naturally his little routine of starting the day came to mind for me, and I thought it would be fun to explore it.

I ran out of time a bit during the group and would liked to have taken it further, but I think I managed to close it well with what I had. I haven’t come back to it since to complete it but maybe I will one day. Still, this is what I have for now.

I’m very grateful to my cat for his gentle company and his energy. He has been such a good friend to me the last few years while I have been unwell and at home.


Pictures my own

orangutans

Now I imagine being an orangutan in the rainforests of Borneo. I love those animals – their dark orange fur and their oblong faces. I would like to be able to climb up a tree and hang from its branches like a furry russet fruit. And then to begin to shift, to swing myself into momentum and movement and then monkey-bar my way across the canopy to a tree with branches bowing under the weight of its fruit. I would pick one, ripe and fresh, and bring it to my sharp teeth. Tear into its flesh and lick the sweet juice from my lips as I do. I can eat my fill. And then perhaps it would begin to rain, thick drops plummeting down onto the forest, beating on the canopy. I shelter in a tree with floppy leaves that divert the water away from me. If I get wet, I know I will dry off again once the sun chases the clouds away. And then I might go down to the river and play with the babies, splash cold water and teach them how to climb up the banks.


I had finished writing the previous post‘s piece and I thought that I hadn’t really filled the brief of writing about being another person for a day. So I thought I would try again to consider what person I would like to be for a day.

But yet again, I found it hard to pick a person! I know I find decisions hard but I was also still lacking the energy to enjoy any new life. I acknowledged that, and reminded myself that this was only a writing exercise. I didn’t have to make a perfect, permanent decision. I could just explore an idea. And my mind went to an animal I love, the orangutan. I decided to spend some time exploring the idea of being one. I was able to let go of the sense of striving and perfectionism, and needing to exactly fulfil the brief, and chose to just do the writing and see where it went.

In reading I’ve done while writing this section, I’ve learnt that most orangutans actually avoid the water due to the danger of drowning or of animals that may be lurking in it. So that ending isn’t particularly factually correct, but such is the joy of fiction!


It was pointed out to me that both of the scenarios I imagined had a sense of simplicity, of ease, and of just having to exist without any other expectations. I can see why I might be yearning for that. And I’m grateful to have had the chance to discover that it is something I want.

I also find it interesting that in both pieces, I told a narrative that involved the rain coming and then passing. This is the natural cycle of the weather but the idea can be extended much further.

For me, a big part of learning to cope with difficult emotions has been developing an awareness that feelings come and go, that they won’t last forever no matter how horrible I feel. I don’t know how good I am at recognising this in the moment but I like that on some level my brain is able to see the seasonality of things.

I am also working at improving my ability to accept emotions as they come without judging them as “good” or “bad”. It feels comforting to me to write about going through hard things and coming out the other side. I can see the value in challenging emotions just as I can see the necessity of the rain for the forest and its animals.


One more orangutan pic because how cute are they!!


Pictures by herbert2512 and RinMuna on Pixabay, and Carel van Vugt and Dimitry B on Unsplash

being a plant

I feel so tired. I wish that I could take in the sun’s light like a plant. I could grow and reach up to the sky. I could burst forth with flowers on my limbs and feel the gentle tickle of bee and butterfly legs on my petals. I could feel anchored to ground by my thick roots and grow deeper, more firm and steady in my place. I could feel the rain and not need to run from it. The drops would slide down my leaves and leave me shiny as they reach the soil and hydrate the parched tendrils of roots. The smell of wet earth would surround me and intermingle with the scent of my blossoms. And then the clouds would be blown onwards and I would once again be drenched in warmth and sunlight. I imagine I would feel the water evaporating from my leaves, perhaps as a tingle or an itch that is soothed by the breeze. A spider might climb me and hang its silken threads between my limbs, and now I am a home for more than myself. I have nothing to do but grow as I turn my head into the sun’s warm caress.


We were set the task of thinking about who we would pick if we could be another person for a day and then imagining what that would be like. I found it really challenging. I think the idea of being someone else doesn’t feel that appealing to me while my energy is still so low. I wouldn’t be able to explore the place they are in or the new opportunities available to me. I thought about how tired I felt, and then started imagining how I would change that. I imagined the sun shining on me, filling me with warmth, energy and vitality. And that led me to thinking about what does actually benefit from that even more than I do – the plant!


Photos taken by me

kindness

When I think of kindness, I think of the poem “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye. I can’t remember when I first read it, but it really spoke to me. In it she talks about how to “know kindness… you must know sorrow“. She describes ways people may suffer and how that can lead to such a darkness and hopelessness. Then she says that, through having been to that place, we all can be kind because we know so well what an absence of kindness can look like (“how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness“). That having been there, we almost have no choice but to be kind because the alternative is too horrible to consider, too painful to us even if we are not the one in that place.

I liked the poem so much that I printed it out, folded it up, and put it in my purse. I carry it with me when I go out and it feels like both a tether and a reminder of what I can hope for, even in moments when I feel at my lowest. It makes me feel connected to other people and hopeful. You could say that I carry the poem with me “like a shadow or a friend“.


I can remember being on the bus at university. I had just had a horrible meeting – or rather, a meeting that left me feeling horrible. Often the meetings were meant to be supportive but the whole situation was so difficult and I felt so alone that I would leave feeling awful. I remember thinking there were not enough private places to go to cry on the university site. Yet I couldn’t control my tears or hold in the sorrow that consumed me. I walked to the bus stop, just wanting to get home and curl myself up and hide from the world and everything that felt so painful.

When the bus came, I got out my money to pay for my ticket. I was lucky – as a student, I could buy a one pound ticket that let me go all over the city for a day. So it should have been simple to hand over a pound coin and get back a thin, ghost-like paper ticket. Tears were still falling from my face, and I pulled out a pound from my purse and handed it over but managed to spill some other coins at the same time. That was it: they were gone to me. What use or need did I have for that when what I was was so awful? Inside I felt a sinking that seemed like it would go on forever. I was rushed away in the tide of that cold darkness and I wasn’t really on that bus any more. I was embarrassed to be crying like this in public and I didn’t care, couldn’t care about those coins. I just wanted to get home, so I tore off my ticket and sat down.

And a gentleman on that bus saw what had happened. He saw me, crying and feeling empty and scared and sad, and he saw the two silver coins glinting on the floor. And he picked them up with gentle hands and said, “These are yours.”

I had already given up on them; the twenty pence or whatever they were worth meant nothing against my own worthlessness. But that kind man saw them and, more importantly, saw me, and his actions said to me that, even feeling at my worst, I was still a person and it was okay for me to be there and to not just give up on things that I lost.


This was written at my creative writing group where the prompt was the word “kindness”. The poem I am talking about is Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye. Do give it a read – it expresses so beautifully the importance of kindness, how vital it is.


Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

eye contact

Do soulmates exist?

It’s hard to say. I don’t know. But what I do know is the first time I laid eyes on them, I felt drawn to them. And of all the people I met that day, theirs was the name that stuck in my mind. Theirs was the face I recognised when I returned months later once the summer sun had dimmed behind reddening leaves. Theirs was the leg mine brushed against as I thought, “is this what people talk about?” and theirs was the hand I held bravely in mine. Theirs were the lips that pressed to my cheek and hatched butterflies in my stomach, and later tenderly met my own. Their face was what beamed at me, frowned at me, cried with me until the rainbows melted down our faces. And I haven’t seen it in years but I can’t forget that first meeting and how, somehow, some part of me – my head? my heart? – knew that this was a person who would be important to me.

What was the question again?


For this piece we were given the prompt of eye contact, specifically imagining two people seeing each other for the first time. I have been at home so much lately with the lockdowns etc. and I realise I’ve really missed seeing brown eyes. They are so warm and beautiful and nobody in my house has them.


Photo by fotografierende on Pixabay

teddy bear

Your black eyes blink open. You are in a cave. It feels cold against your furry back and legs. There is a window, large and round. The light it lets in glints within the cavernous space, reflecting off the ceiling in sparks that could be stars if they weren’t so menacing.

The inside of a washing machine drum, shiny and silver

You push up, barely enough room to stand, and step towards the window. You push against it with all your might and the world outside looks blown out as if seen through a fish-eye. But there is no movement of the pane. You see something looming outside, coming closer, and you fall back onto the ice-cold floor. Has it got even colder? You don’t want to be seen.

Then the floor begins to rumble. You hear running water – at first a trickle, but then suddenly the floodgates open and you are drenched in a deluge of cold water. It fills up the cave from the bottom. You do not know what is going on here.

You try to stay upright but the water catches you, lifts you clean off the floor. You feel cold to your bones . Could this get any worse?

Yes, it can. The rumbling turns to a rocking, turns to a rushing, and now the floor is up and the ceiling is down and you are caught, caught in phantom currents that seem to have come from nowhere. You screw your eyes shut, not from the sting of the water but to try to take yourself away, anywhere that isn’t here. The crashing continues and you are thrown every which way, into the walls and up against the window. You can’t face the fright you feel here – so you start to think of something else, something kinder.

You think of being dragged along the floor, riding the bumpy landscape of the living room. Which changed to dare-dangling centimetres off the ground, being flung along without care and yet feeling cared for. Being clutched tight to someone’s chest, crushed in a way that could crumple your bones. And you feel held, and you feel safe.

And then, the tumult stops. You crash to the floor and the cave drains as fast as it had filled.

What was that?!

You lie, exhausted, and then freeze as the window is pulled away by some phantom means. Fresh air rushes in, revives you as you are grabbed round the ankle by fingers small enough to comfort. You are rudely hoisted out, and stolen away, even as you here Mum’s voice call out.

“You can’t take Bear back yet! He’s still wet!”

But you are carried up and to the bedroom. To a calm place. You are with your child, and you are safe.


This is the piece I wrote at the first Mind group I attended, based on a prompt of a teddy bear brought in. I haven’t really edited it but I still feel proud for writing and sharing it.


Photos by Marina Shatskih &  Alex Blăjan on Unsplash and Viktor Hanacek on PicJumbo