Ow ow ow - everything hurts! But most of all my poor little left toe looks like it’s been in an explosion - I am lying in bed with plasters and paracetamol. Today has been really challenging - it started beautifully with the Bantham Ferry then I walked up the cliffs outside Bigbury-on-Sea as the wind gathered pace. It was sooo strong. I stopped to ask the RNLI if people ever get blown off cliffs - they said that wasn’t something they’d ever had to deal with so reassured I pressed on.
I made it about 2 more miles along the coast - it was exhilarating but then having been blown over 3 times and every single step being a struggle I decided to head inland before the Erme Estuary. I’m glad I did because I’m safe but it involved a lot of walking on lanes which is more tiring than lovely footpaths and the landscape was beautiful but nowhere near as inspiring (particularly as it was often hidden by high hedgerows). I got lost twice, phoned my husband and had a little cry, nearly gave up but persevered. I’ve walked 23 exhausting, toe-crushing miles and climbed 900 metres.
I thought about a lot of things that resonated with my journey as a survivor. It’s really hard when life is a struggle - hard to feel ok, hard to keep going, hard to be positive. Why should we be positive - it's shit being in so much pain - it's enough just to be.
I also noticed how much I buzz on excitement and adrenaline - it makes everything very present moment - there’s no space to think about difficult feelings or painful memories. I tend to seek out heightened experiences and have to be careful how I channel that - I can easily veer towards addiction. I honestly couldn’t have been happier than when I was nearly being blown away and then I felt bored, petulant and frustrated when I took the safer option.
I don’t really believe in recovery. I think we just learn to live with our stories and I do think we can get better at doing that, get to know ourselves better and learn to treat ourselves with the love we deserve - at least some of the time. I think being able to have a word with my inner adrenaline junkie and choosing to not be blown off a cliff was the more adult self loving option, but then I had to be very nice to the childlike bits of me that felt disappointed, cheated out of an adventure and missed my wild friend the sea.
When I did catch sight of her again, at dusk in Wembury, my heart did a little leap. I wanted to shout “I’m coming to play tomorrow” but I was in a little housing estate and felt uncharacteristically self conscious. The wind is still blowing up a hooley out there and the forecast is for strong winds into tomorrow but I have everything crossed (except my ouchy toe) to be back on that path in the morning.
You can find out more about Restless here: https://www.vivgordon.com/restless
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I'll be posting my personal reflections on creating work as an artist and survivor of childhood sexual abuse, my work with the wider sector and interesting developments in arts and mental health.