Writing Is Therapy
Reflecting back to the past.
I’m sixteen years old in history class. I’m sitting at my desk bored out of mind. My classmates are all talking about Shindler’s List. It’s some type of class discussion. I’m not paying attention. I’m off in my own world day-dreaming. I open my notebook. It’s a blank page. I act like I’m jotting down notes from today’s lessons. I start doodling stars all over my binder. I look at the clock. Time is going by so slow.
I take my pen. I’m scribbling down verses. I’m trying to master poetry. I have no clue what I’m even trying to do. I’m just exhausted. I want class to be over. I’m doodling words as if I’m trying to free verse a rap song. I wish I was a genius like the rapper Eminem. He’s the picture on my locker. He’s my inspiration to get through life. I love listening to Pink’s music. She’s my favourite singer. Their music makes me feel less alone.
I put my emotions into how I feel about myself. I hold back the tears. I write down words. I cross them out. I do this repeatedly. I finally look down at my paper to this:
I never pictured my life this way.
I guess it’s true what they say.
Failures always fall.
I blame myself for it all.
All the misery. All the strife.
All the problems that entered my life.
I wanted to do what was right.
I wanted to fight the fight.
I guess I’m too weak to get inspired.
I guess all my plans just backfired.
My life is too insane.
I’ve caused myself pain.
Inside all I feel is shame.
Is it really me who is to blame?
I tried so hard to gain satisfaction.
I guess I’m taking the wrong action.
I can no longer hide.
I cried and I cried.
I’m no longer strong.
Somewhere I went wrong.
I can’t turn back the clock.
I have to just admit I’m in shock.
I’m a failure. I’m a failure.
I wish I could change.”
I read it over and over again. I hand my paper over to my best friend who sits behind me. She reads it and she says: “Wow, you’re really good at writing.”
I think she’s just being nice because she’s an honour roll student, and I seem to only get D’s. She stayed my friend despite what I was going through because she always let me express myself to her through poetry.
History class is finally over, and were on to English class. Were all supposed to do a speech. The whole class has their speeches prepared but me. I didn’t even know what I was going to speak on. I had not done my home-work. I listened to my class-mates as they all did their speeches. I started to feel afraid. I had nothing.
My friend still sat behind me in the class. I looked at her “I didn’t do my home-work! What do I talk about?”
She said “How do you have nothing? You’ve written a million poems. Use one of them.”
The other students finished, and fear got the best of me. I was nervous.
I heard the teacher “Irene, It’s your turn to do your speech.”
“I have nothing,” I said.
“Do you want me to give you zero? Just get up and speak.” The teacher said.
I looked over my pages. I looked over my marking sheet that the teacher needed to use to mark me. I walked up to the front. I starred at the class in front of me. I was not intelligent in any of their eyes. The only class-mate who believed in me was the honour roll student who stood by me in all hard times.
“Are you ready?” the teacher asked.
“I can’t do this,” I said. I was about to go back to my seat and accept my zero.
“Just make something up. I don’t want to fail you.” the teacher said.
“Okay…” I replied.
I thought about all the poems I had written. I started my speech. I don’t remember what I said exactly but I do remember the basis of my speech.
It went something like this:
“You all look at me. You see a girl who is a failure. I know how it feels to have no friends and nobody to talk to. I may look like I have friends when I skip school. I am really just running from the pain. I’m a victim of rape. It’s hard to wake up every day knowing that nobody understands the things in life you have to heal from.”
I felt the energy in the room and I carried on. I think I brought my class and my teacher to tears and then I just closed. I looked up.
The teacher said, “Irene, come here.” I said, “Okay.”
She said, “After that speech you need a hug.”
Class finished. Everyone went for lunch. The teacher said: “Irene, can you please stay after class?”
I said, “Sure.”
I stayed after class and she opened her marking book. She said, “When you’re here you have 90’s. All these absences are why I have to give you zero’s. You deserve an A in this class. How can I help you get that in the future?”
I said, “I don’t know.”
She said, “I’m going to take a leap of faith, and I’m going to pass you. Go get the A’s you deserve.”
I often kept many journals throughout high-school. It was therapy for me. I didn’t make anything out of it. I didn’t even think about a writing career. I just saw writing as my best friend when I didn’t have a friend.
I always thought I needed to be a doctor with a PHD once I graduated high school to be anybody in the world. I focused on everything that I couldn’t do when preparing for my future instead of on the things I could do.
I always felt like I had to live beneath other people, and I was never good enough. I was constantly treated like a failure and a lost cause. Nobody ever saw the battles I was fighting. I was so good at being outwardly strong.
I often thought about why people want to write. Some people want to write because they enjoyed English in school. I myself enjoyed: “Drama Class.” I remember the days I said:
“I’m going to grow up and become an actress.”
That dream failed. I often let fear run the course of my life. I often fell in love with pain.
It was that teacher in grade 10 who left the biggest mark on me. I went on to grade 11 and 12 and got the marks she said I was capable of. I worked so hard for them. I really struggled through Shakespeare. I had to work ten times harder than everyone else just to understand it. I didn’t even understand it when we watched the movies. I somehow got A’s in my grade 11 and 12 essays. I was shocked when I started getting them.
I remember a question on one of my papers. It said:
“What did you struggle with well studying Shakespeare?”
I remember writing:
“I didn’t understand it. I had to study it a lot.”
I remember the teacher writing:
“I had no clue you had that much trouble with it.”
I look back to my old pieces sometimes to see how much I’ve grown. It amazes me. It’s a process to progress. I wrote this after finally succeeding at Shakespeare.
It’s just another reminder of why you’re not here.
Lear’s blindness like that of a fool.
Breaking and breaking his own rule.
Cordelia’s grace shining through like that of an angel.
Yet the closeness makes them all face betrayal.
The plays never end happy.
They just remind you of your own misery.
Shakespeare’s always got a way of making humans face their flaws.
Cutting us up like a tiger with sharp claws.
Even if you’ve only made one mistake.
You learn to accept everyone around you is fake.
Look at Lear, his own daughters turned on him.
Left him out in the storm, where the light was dim.
Goneril and Regan were just cruel.
Made Lear realize royalty is corrupt, and now he’s a fool.
He had to go through sorrow, lost hope for tomorrow.
Went mad, denial, rage, and isolation,
in sending Cordelia away, he faced such devastation.
He was lost without her, like I feel lost without you.
But to my heart, I must be true…
I’m going to get over you…It’s what I need to do.
All the hurt makes people become someone else.
I know I’m hurting but I still want to be myself.
Not like Lear….instead I’m going to cry my tear.
What happened to the world of fun, so much work undone.
Just like in all Shakespeare’s plays, nobody won!!
He teaches us about death,
forgiveness, and rebellion, because today we could take our last breath.
In shakespeares plays someone always has to die…
Sometimes I ask myself WHY?
It means another teardrop, another cry…
The saddest word in life becomes GOODBYE!!
You eventually realize you’re all alone,
Facing this world on your own..
Do you become a stranger? Do you become stronger?
When you feel you’ve lost and can’t carry on any longer?
How do you go from reaching the bottom, to finding your way to the top?
It’s like you’ve hit a red light, the worlds telling you STOP.
Shakespeare makes you see reality.
It lets you know this world is not a fantasy.
It lets you know people decieve…
No matter how much blessings you think you recieve.
It shows you your best friend might be your enemy…
The truth it makes you see…
Shakespeare makes me face the truth and why you’re not here.
It makes me realize I’m living in fear!!!
I think my Shakespeare poem has a lot to do with the process we all go through when were trying to fight for our writing dreams or any dream that people claim is impossible. No matter how many people tell me:
“Irene, you’re a great writer.”
There are several other people who tell me:
“You’ll never make it!”
There are so many people who’ve told me to write a book. There are so many others who told me it’s a far-fetched dream. Each time I started the dream. I was criticized. I was told:
“Come help me over here or come help me over there.”
I became a background girl who taught all my friends in leadership positions how to shine by all the books I read from “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” by Robert T. Kiyosaki to “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napolean Hill. I gave people tips that I learned in the books and all I remained was a servant girl. They basically got successful and left me to drown once their life went forwards and mine went backwards. They had post secondary degrees, and I didn’t.
I was reminded that I was just the girl in high-school that was constantly treated like a failure. I learned the same people you help are always the same people who betray you and hurt you. Once they climb up the success ladder. They’re too ashamed to say they knew you. I felt the hate. It was real.
I remember taking all my years of journals and my notes and throwing them out. I never wanted to look at them again. I told myself:
“Maybe they’re right? I’m a nobody and I’m a nothing. I’m a lost cause. Look at them. Look at me.”
I knew I didn’t have the image to gain the respect that they did and nobody would ever believe me I was the girl who helped them. I knew I was just a girl with an image full of failures, imperfections, and mistakes. I gave these people power over me. I gave these people power over my life. I gave these people power over everything about me. I lived in my weaknesses and I failed to see my strengths.
I passed up opportunities. I gave into other peoples dreams and I forgot about mine. I made my dreams so impossible for me to reach. I held on to that thought that I need to be a doctor. We all know doctors are highly respected and so they should be. That drained my energy to exhaustion. I became a perfectionist of sorts.
I didn’t see it coming again when I tried so hard to get life right and my world started crumbling a part because I wasn’t happy. I was making everybody else happy but myself. You can only keep up with the facade for so long.
The day finally came when I took my power back and I said:
“I’m going to do this.”
A lot of my friends I once knew started to hate me. I felt like a rope being tugged into my future but pulled back into my past. Do you know how it feels to feel like you’re that rope? You want to please the crowd but you know the crowd ain’t ever had your back like you always had theirs.
I think all those let downs in my life. I think all that rejection in my life. I think it all made me want to write even more.