It's been 2 weeks now since I got home from the Restless walk along the West Somerset coast from Steart to County Gate - a stretch that soon takes you past Hinkley Point Power Station - a blot in the beautiful wildness that works for me as a metaphor for abuse experiences. On the first day I wrote in my blog:
“It seems fitting to start - as my life did - with a big, ugly, toxic scar in the landscape. The rest of our journey will be leaving that behind, walking away from it albeit somewhat in its shadow.”
Walking past Hinkley is no picnic - it's a vast intimidating site that vibrates with a constant audible hum. The path here is diverted away from the sea but - rightly or wrongly - me and my companion decided to ignore that and walk along the beach. This made our experience a bit furtive tapping into familiar hyper-vigilant mind states. We skirted the high wall looming over the beach, picked our way gingerly over stepping stones to avoid the waste water spewing out and genuinely wondered if we might be cut off by the tide unable, as we were, to see our way back to the path. These feelings resonate strongly for me - we often talk about trauma so casually that we forget how consuming fear is, that overwhelming feeling that we might not make it out alive. We’re called survivors for a reason - we don’t all make it.
The rest of the walk made distance between us and Hinkley but it remained present both physically and as an idea. To start with every time we looked back there it was. Then the path started to undulate, the landscape became soft and beautiful and Hinkley was hidden from view. My body was lulled by the gentle up and down, the steady left right left of my feet on the path, the sounds of the sea and the gulls and the scent of blackberries on the breeze. All the ugliness was forgotten until I turned at the top of a cliff and there it was again, a shock of metal reaching arrogantly into the sea and sky. This experience was repeated throughout the walk - sometimes visible, sometimes hidden but somehow constant, permeating everything.
And so it is that abuse permeates my life - I’m not thinking about it all the time but it's always there - it has shaped so much of how I am in the world - it pops its ugly head up at unexpected times and casts its shadow. I think my work is a way for me to not be cowed by it, to look it in the eye, to vote with my feet and decide how I position myself in relation to it. It's a reclamation of my body and its autonomy and of my voice and its truth. As a child I was catatonic with trauma, unable to walk or talk until I was 3. Now every step is a victory - and the poetry and songs that emerge from my body in this landscape is my rallying cry for change.
welcome to my blog
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.