First, The Breaking. Then The Becoming.

alone-girl-walk-alone-beauty.jpg

“Transformation isn’t sweet and bright. It’s a dark and murky, painful pushing. An unravelling of the untruths you’ve carried in your body. A practice in facing your own demons. A complete uprooting, before becoming.” ~ Victoria Erickson

Here’s the thing about breaking.

You never heal the same.

You can never go back to the person you used to be, nor fit in the spaces you once thought you belonged. There will always be resistance. A defiance in your spirit. A sense of being out of place. A pulling back to your true north.

The breaking can be a lonely time; the healing, even more so. Islands of isolation and seclusion during times you feel too vulnerable to face the world. Feeling lost and homesick; no longer the person you once were, yet not knowing which road will lead you to the person you’re still becoming.

But this I have come to know:

I would rather the loneliness than living a life I no longer align with. I would rather move forward on my own than force myself to fit into places that have become too small for me. I would rather exist as an island living true to my authentic self than compromise who I am becoming just so another can hold me in the spaces they desire me to stay inside of.

The path back to ourselves is not an easy one. It is an unlearning of the people we have been taught to be. A falling away of the lives we have sought to live. It is a letting go. A surrender. A grieving. It is the breaking apart of all we once thought to be true, and real.

But with the breaking comes the healing; eventually the transformation.

And then, the becoming.

Dear Mother Who is Struggling

181031-depression-mn-1030_b9a9760c62bf89faaf1ca3f488b41c00.fit-760w

Dear Mother Who is Struggling,

I know you haven’t been yourself lately.

I see it in the way your eyes no longer carry the light the way they used to, their colour faded. Your frown lines have deepened, outnumbering the lines of laughter that once etched the sides of your face, back when your joyful smile would reach that far, back when your shoulders were straight and the weight of your tiredness didn’t pull you down.

You love your babies, I know you do.

But this is hard. And you are tired. So damn tired.

And maybe this is what adds to the tiredness; the guilt that you shouldn’t feel this way. You wonder if you’re the only mother out there who feels so isolated, so alone, so exhausted. Or do they all have these villages you hear of – support networks of family and friends who share the burden of raising a family, while you wake up each morning and wonder how you will get through another day on your own?

There was a world you used to belong to, and you grieve it. It’s there in front of you, every day, on social media – there, in the radiant faces of other women as they go about their lives, their holidays, gym classes, dates, promotions. You wonder how, in a world so connected, you are left feeling so goddamn disconnected from it all.

Surrounded by little people, noise, clutter, you find yourself lonelier than ever. But it’s not a loneliness from being alone. It’s a loneliness that comes from being so far from yourself, so far from who you once were. You don’t even know who that is anymore. You feel as though you’ve traded your whole identity to be a mother. Sacrificed your entire life to care for those around you. This is all you know now. This is all your life has become.

You miss the woman you once were, and the life you once had.

You long for independence, spontaneity, to be carefree. For road trips and dinner dates and live music and nights out in the city. For beach days and lazy Sundays in bed and to read a book, uninterrupted. Drained, you yearn for the things that bring nurture to your tired body and soul as you force yourself through another day on the remnants of what you have left to give.

I know this is hard. But take heart, dear one.

It won’t always be this way. It won’t always be so hard. Days will get easier. There will be more moments to be still, to breathe, more moments to laugh again. There will be more moments where you can reach inside and find the misplaced pieces of the woman you used to be, and the days will begin to feel less lonely as you journey back to your own heart.

I know you think the way you struggle makes you a failure. That because of this, you fall short and aren’t enough. Don’t believe these lies. Be gentle on your heart, for every day you face the hardest job, alone, and you make it through. No matter how impossible it seems, you don’t give up. You show up, and continue to do the best with what you have.

And some days that may not seem like enough. But every day, you continue to love. And that will always be more than enough. I know this is hard. But for now, this is all you need to know.

This too shall pass.

And when you close your eyes tonight, write those words on the back of your eyelids, and let them fall away toward your heart and kiss it with the hope that will get you through your tomorrows.

You may not feel it today, but I promise you, my love – you’ve got this.

Let Them Throw Stones

Nobody has the right to judge you.

Nobody has the right to hold you prisoner to your mistakes when they don’t know a damn thing about the choices you had to choose from and how hard you fought just to survive.

Nobody has the right to shame you for your humanity. To deny you the right to be human. To deny you the grace of the human condition that sees us all fuck up at times and learn from that and do better.

Nobody has the right to take away your redemption. To take every damn drop of blood poured for your healing, your growth, your change, your becoming, and make it worth nothing.

We are not held captive to our yesterdays, to the person we once were when we knew no better. We are not bound by our mistakes, to the ways we hurt others when our hearts were hurting so damn much inside our fragile chests. We are not defined by our rock bottom, when nobody knows what it has taken us to claw our way out to become the person we are today.

We are not our past.

We are not our shame.

Nobody has the right to judge the heart they do not know.

Your heart is beautiful; made new with each day you have woken and determined to do better. You are worthy. You are deserving. You are everything they will never be.

Forgiveness, grace, second chances: these are the things we offer other humans when we understand the frailty of our own humanity. When we understand that mercy always triumphs over judgement. This is how we offer love.

There will always be those who throw stones.

Let them.

For their feet will forever be bound by the shore, destined to watch as you, my darling, become the ocean.

The Fear of Abundance

img_5582

You’re so scared of abundance, aren’t you?

You’re so scared to be everything you long to be.

You know it’s there. It burns within you; your purpose, your calling. It burns and you feel it when you’re alone and your soul is connected to the universe and in those moments you are an unstoppable force. In those moments your heart cracks open with the beauty of all you are and it cannot be contained within you and you know this is who you were meant to be.

You long to step into your destiny and make that your home. But when you emerge from the quiet shadow of your solitude, the fire is smothered by a fear you can’t let go of; scared of what they might think of you, what they might say about you, of being misunderstood, ridiculed. And so you shrink yourself, bend yourself, shape yourself, mould yourself into something you think is more palatable to the world.

And then wonder why you feel as though you never fit, why you never find your place, why nowhere feels like home.

You were made for so much more than you allow yourself to be.

You must be brave, beloved. Be fearless in the pursuit of your destiny. Find your place. You will never be too much for this world. Do not fear abundance, but allow the overflow of your life to spill into the world. Allow beauty and creativity and kindness and love to flow mightily.

Let go of the fear you are too much.

Instead, go set the souls of the world alight with the radiance of your all-consuming fire.

Day Five, Six and Seven Featured Artist @ Animal Heart Press

Soooo, I got entirely behind on publishing the second half of my week over at Animal Heart Press, so I’m going to do the last few days here together in a catch up blog.

Day Five saw me have a Fast Five Interview with Managing Editor, the wonderful Amanda McLeod, where we spoke about poetry as catharsis, literacy magic, and the art of the spoken word performance – check out the interview here.

Day Six over there saw two of my recent poems published, On Still Nights and Heat – you can read them here.

Day Seven, my final day there, was finished with a bang with the release of my newest spoken word poem, Ode To The F*ck Boys Who Taught Me How To Love Myself – have a watch of it here, and if you haven’t already subscribed to my YouTube channel, do so while you’re over there!
HUGE thank you to the beautiful people at Animal Heart Press, take some time to look at their website and the stunning array of writing on there, and follow them on social media too, their heart and passion for what they do is extraordinary <3

Day One Featured Artist @ Animal Heart Press

Guys! I am absolutely honoured to be this month’s featured artist over at the incredible Animal Heart Press. I’ll be over there for the next 7 days with various stuff, but to start with, they’ve shared my newest poem, This Dead Bird Belongs To Me – about the legacy of addiction – head over to the link below and take a read, it’s brutally raw and one of the hardest I’ve written x

Animal Heart Press – Featured Artist Kathy Parker – Day One

On Poetry Slam Heats, Cheese and Scarcity

A few of you have asked how the Australian Poetry Slam competition is going, so I thought I’d just post an update here.

First, for those who aren’t familiar with how a poetry slam works, here’s the low down. Twenty contestants per heat, five random judges are chosen from the audience to give scores out of ten, and poets are drawn out of a hat to determine the order of which they’ll compete. That’s the basic gist anyway. In this particular competition, there are five heats — the two highest scorers from each heat go through to the state finals — the two winners from there go on to compete at the national final in Sydney.

The thing I need to point out about random audience judging is firstly, the judges may never have been to a poetry slam in their life — like, they could have literally walked in off the street looking for a Friday night drink and the slam just happened to be at their favourite bar and they know nothing about poetry. Flawed, but consistent across all slams.

Secondly, it’s a well-known fact among slammers that the judging always begins conservatively and gets progressively better throughout the heat; either because judges are saving their best scores in anticipation of what the slam might bring, or because by the end of the slam they’ve had a few more drinks and OMG THIS POEM IS ABOUT CHEESE AND I LOVE CHEESE SO TENS ALL ROUND! So, everyone knows if you’re unlucky enough to be drawn first or second (and probably even third), it’s instant death. You’re not going to get through. You’re just not. At least, I know of not a single person who has been drawn first or second and made it through, ever.

So, with that in mind.

The first slam I ever competed in a couple of years ago now, I was drawn first. I’d never even been to a slam, let alone competed in one. I had no idea how they even worked or what was really expected of me, and yet, there I was. First on stage trying not to toss my cookies. Initiation at its finest. Also, apparently, the foretelling of my destiny.

Because I kid you not when I say EVERY. SINGLE. SLAM I have competed in since, I have been drawn first or second. Like, to the point it’s actually become a running joke. Like, to the point where I think there is actually no fucking way I could be drawn first again — only to sure enough, be drawn first again.

So you can imagine the devastation when having competed in two heats in the last two weeks, this exact thing has happened. It happened at the first heat. Disappointed, I turned up to the second heat this weekend thinking I just couldn’t be drawn at the start again — like, surely there are just no odds that atrocious. And yet. AND YET.

I was drawn first.

It would almost be laughable, if it weren’t so absolutely heartbreaking.

I have to say, it nearly crushed me this time, to the point I could have easily just walked out and not bothered with my performance. I can’t even explain how it feels to drive 800km to compete in a heat you know is over before it’s even begun. There was a moment of having to dig exceptionally deep and get on stage in spite of how I was feeling; where I literally had to remind myself of these words as I walked on stage:

“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” ~ Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird

So I saw it through and performed the best I could (although I struggled this time, I’ll admit), then sat back in my seat and wondered whether I would even bother staying for the rest of the heat. It would have been easy to justify leaving at that point, knowing I was already out of the competition. No-one else has driven 800km to be here. No-one else has a four hour drive home. No-one else won’t get home until 9pm to see their kids for the first time this weekend. No-one else here was drawn first.

And sure, all that was probably true. But I also knew every other person there had worked just as hard as me to be there. Every other person had poured all they had into their poem and performance; they had all shown just as much courage and vulnerability and determination. They were all sitting there, hearts thumping in their chest, nerves on edge, holding their breath with fear and anticipation waiting for their name to be drawn. They were all there, with a hope and a dream, just as I was.

And to me, that’s what it’s about.

It’s a competition, yes. But more than that, it’s a community. It’s a room full of like-minded people coming together to share an experience. And I can either be threatened, jealous and competitive of others, or I can show encouragement, support, and the willingness to uphold those around me knowing we’re all striving toward the same destination. We won’t all make it there together. But what a community we build when we can put aside our own pride and ego and cheer for those who get there before us.

In saying that, I can’t say I wasn’t completely gutted to have been drawn first again; I was. And I’m not for one second saying if I wasn’t drawn first then I’d have received one of the highest scores or made it through or whatever. There’s no predictability or guarantee of outcome at all with these events; the entire thing is subjective to so many different factors. But there is a devastation in being drawn first (or second) every time and never knowing if you could’ve made it through, given a fairer chance. It’s hard not to grapple with the what-if’s and if-only’s and would-it-have-made-any-difference-if’s.

There are still three more heats to go, but I’m not sure if I’ll continue at this point. Whilst I have put everything aside for the last six weeks and worked exceptionally hard on my pieces, there’s a point where I have to be realistic about what time, energy and money I can pour into what is essentially just a competition. 800km is a long way to drive each week just to get drawn first each time. Which you’d think would be unlikely. I walk in every time thinking there’s no way it could happen again. But it turns out it can, and does. At least, for me. Maybe the universe just knows best on this one.

There’s some grief in considering not going back for another heat; already today I feel lost not knowing what to do with myself after investing so much into this to now walk away from it. But I know it’s not over, as such. There’s always next year. There’s always another slam. There’s always another open mic and festival and competition. We get so caught in fomo thinking these days — that feeling of HAVING TO BE DOING THE THING HERE AND NOW OR WE WILL MISS OUT AND DISAPPEAR INTO AN OBLIVION OF INVISIBILITY FOREVER.

It’s a scarcity thing; the fear there isn’t enough room for us all and we have to fight for our position and hustle to be seen and prove we are worthy of the space we inhabit. Like, feeling if I don’t get through to the state finals this year, I’ve failed. I’m insignificant. There won’t be another chance. I’ll get left behind. If I don’t make it through now I never will. Etc etc.

But sometimes our best laid plans don’t work out as we hope. Surrendering to that is a quiet rebellion against that mindset of scarcity; not forcing things to happen in our time and having to strive and hustle for fear of being left behind, but just embracing the surrender and letting our ideals go and accepting things will unfold as they do. Our season may not be now, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come at all.

So, I’m taking some days to regroup and refocus and decide if I’ll continue competing this year, or not. It isn’t defeat if I don’t. It’s surrender and acceptance of an outcome; it’s knowing the world hasn’t seen the best of me yet but by god, it sure as hell will. Sometime. Maybe. One elusive day when I don’t get drawn first.

There’s still plenty of time ahead for me yet.