Words have floated in my mind, scattered and avoided, for years. ‘Sin’ ‘Coercion’ ‘Blame’ ‘Damaged’ ‘Why?’ After suffering various negative experiences from my teenage years through to my early twenties, I found myself unable to speak my truths and desperate to block out any and all memories that could even slightly be related to certain events. Keeping those secrets had my brain ready to burst at any moment with all that it held. Secrets that had been locked away in the depths of my mind, some so far that they were suppressed altogether, waiting for their moment to reemerge and devastate all over again. Secrets that grew larger with each ignorant remark or ‘innocent’ joke. Secrets that became smothered in shame. Despite the thousand bolts and thick barriers, I could still hear them banging against the door, threatening to break through, screaming to be confronted.
At twenty-four, I found an old, untouched journal at the bottom of a drawer and poured my whole being into it. At first, the thoughts fell onto the page as broken, scribbled phrases and doodles for the things I couldn’t figure out how to word. I then stumbled into poetry. An unplanned journey into the art form that changed my life. Crafting thoughts into poems gave me a sense of control that I never thought possible. I took those scattered words, fragmented memories, and confused timelines, and pieced them together. I developed the strength to explore the unthinkable, to summon specific memories and portray them with words while having the escape route of searching for synonyms or focusing on technical elements when I needed to step back emotionally. Poetry has given me the outlet to express myself that I desperately needed.
Now, going into therapy with my experiences already explored and expressed in a way that makes sense to me helps me discuss those issues and feel confident that I can articulate what I mean, for fear of saying something wrong had been a deterrent with which I struggled, and still struggle with to this day. I can brainstorm metaphors, explore different imagery, rewrite lines until the thought becomes as clear in my head as on the page. Some poems will remain within the confines of the therapist’s office. Some poems will never be known to anyone other than myself. Some poems I share with the world.
Publishing my debut chapbook this year gave me an opportunity to say ‘this is me, this is who I am,’ and for once not feel ashamed. It gave me freedom. Relief. Pride. It made me realize that I am strong and courageous and I will not be beaten by the things that have happened to me. I have plans for two more collections to be published this year and I am truly looking forward to those poems to be out there in the world, for others to read and relate to. Within poetry, I have been able to document my journey of healing, to look back on how far I have come, and have faith that my future is soft and worth staying for. Poetry saved my life.
Elfie is a writer and poet, mainly of LGBTQ+ and mental health themed works, from Derbyshire, England. She has a Master of Arts in publishing and dreams of owning her own press. Her poetry has been published by Constellate Literary Journal and Royal Rose Magazine, among others, and her debut poetry chapbook Will You Still Love Me if I Love Her? was published in February 2019. When she isn’t consumed by words, she plays the piano and watches horror films with her grandparents. Find Elfie on Twitter @elfieinbloom