I’m writing this the morning after as it was to much to do it yesterday.
In fairness yesterday was easier.
Day two was crazy, I think I’m fit and strong but I wasn’t sure I would make it.
I have loads of reflections that I think are easier in bullet points, I’m wary of sounding like an arty farty, badly written, attempting too many metaphors type
I woke last night to find Viv crying, she was distressed and needed to get out of the tent. It was hard for me to watch and feel helpless. I also feel angry. Fuck you you fuckers. How dare you have done this to my beautiful friend.
This walk isn’t easy; physically or emotionally; it’s beautiful and we are here for each other but it’s challenging and thinking about / living with abuse is never far from our minds
Today we walked 20 miles carrying full camping kit in a landscape the coast path info describes as a rollercoaster. They’re not joking. Some of the hills were so steep Sarah was crawling on her hands and feet and I was taking micro-rests every 10-15 steps
My reflections on resilience include:
A. When something is overwhelming it serves me well to only think about the next step
B. Trying to work out how to do anything but A is impossible
C. Feeling overwhelmed and worrying about what’s coming next takes up more energy than is available
D. Pushing through hurts - my feet ache like never before.
E. Listening to myself and taking rests whenever I need to - even if I need to embarrassingly often - helps
F. When you get to where you want to be it’s satisfying
G. I like the feeling of pushing myself beyond what I think I can do and finding out I’ve got more in the tank than I thought
H. Friends are good
I am too tired to write more or post this until the morning
Words fail me
My title says it all.
We walked 20 miles today
I crawled some of it, the hills were vertical at points and my rucksack was very heavy.
We ate oatcakes and a tin of squid for lunch with some cucumber that we bought from the campsite this morning.
Quinta walked with us today.
I’m really excited about working with her, we found out we have mutual friends in the arts and she is/ was super cool.
She has left me her roll mat so tonight I won’t be sleeping on a hard floor with a deflated roll mat.
The coast line is stunning.
Sometimes it’s hard to see that when you’re so weighed down with your baggage.
We’re camping in the garden of Lulworth YHA.
We are so tired we couldn’t even face walking to the pub and ate a packet mix risotto. (it was tasty).
I thought a lot about resilience today as the hills kept coming.
At a hard point today I found out that an application that I have been making for a project has received its funding. It’s the fourth time I have made the application.
I can be resilient.
I have found today hard on many levels, the walking/ weight and ultimately thinking about abuse stories.
Viv’s, the people that we have started to meet and talk to and my own experiences of working with/ living with these stories. Personally and professionally.
The sun shone today, my boots are protecting my feet and my shoulders are pretty strong.
The sky and sea are stunning but I am going to bed tonight aching.
So Day 1
We walked from Poole to Worth Matravers
Legs aching and knackered so will be brief
Struck by us being here on this mission surrounded by holidaymakers and day trippers who are here to relax and have fun
We are having fun too but with this bigger purpose. Restless is about visibility - we are wearing our project t shirts and starting conversations about childhood abuse and domestic violence.
Here (as in life) those conversations are incredibly hard to start - as a survivor it is always hard to speak up - I do it all the time - probably everyday - but it never comes out of my mouth without a moment of thought, of hesitation. The taboo and stigma, the silencing, secrecy and shame, the coercion and actual real threats made by perpetrators are still very much something I have to consciously overcome .
Let’s face it the subject of abuse is still very much what I call “a downer at the dinner party”. Something we all know is happening but find it hard to engage with.
So the question with me today is - when is the right time to talk about abuse? And why do I as a survivor have to carry the burden of worry of spoiling the holiday/dinner party/day out?
Camping next to some slightly rowdy young men ( I just was a little firm with them)
We walked 16 miles
Funny mix of holiday makers/ nudists (many penises) within the first hour
Glad I bought proper boots and shoes
Rucksack hurting my shoulders a lot
Cried in the car on the way
Hard/ big/ brave conversations with Viv
Ideas for show
I was Stroppy at the end
Pint and a pie for supper
(my roll mat has a hole in it, it’s bloody self inflating and new)
Thank god Carl packed some gaffer- will it last the night?
A bit scared for tomorrow
Quinta has arrived
She’s super nice and super cool
Her tent looks like a tomb
Our tent appears to be designed for small children
What if I need a wee in the night
Glad for my down sleeping bag and thank god I brought a head torch
Viv’s legs ache
Please let the gaffer hold for the night and my mat not deflate
I have written a heavier blog which needs more thinking
Tonight I can only do facts
No blisters today
Good night world
Viv and I have been friends since we were 11, we did amateur dramatics together, my dad was our head of 6th form and I am now her producer. I didn’t know that Viv was an abuse survivor until we were both in our 30s. In hindsight it makes sense, certain behaviours over the years, triggers, anger, what I sometimes thought was weird shit in our theatre studies A level class.
As a theatre maker I have always made work about tricky subjects, injustice and have often been drawn to telling womens stories. In this process I have seen myself as an ally but as the walk approaches I have started to consider whether we all sit on the spectrum as survivors, in differernt ways . In no way do I want to claim my story as a survivor, or be seen to be jumping on the band wagon but as a 47 year old woman I too of course have my own baggage, history and scars.
For me the idea of a walk has always felt very primal, a protest, a walk out of our lives because the shit has got so bad that the only thing that we have left to do is walk, walk out, drop everything and go.
In 2014 I remember reading a news story of two indian girls who had been gang raped and then hung in their village. At the time I was working on a large scale domestic violence project in Gloucestershire. I felt so outraged at the scale of this global violence against women that I felt compelled to walk out of my life and walk to India. To invite people to walk with me, walk out of their lives as a protest against this continous violence against women. My son pointed out that my geography was so bad I would never make it, he was of course right and of course I didn’t do it. But the urge to walk out in protest against violence and abuse has not gone away.
So here I am, two nights before we leave, wearing my new walking boots around the house and having just walked 5 miles with a 12 kg rucksack as a practise. The baggage is heavy and without sounding like a wanker of course I have started to feel what it is like to carry baggage, really heavy baggage and it hurts!
It’s hard and I feel that the week is going to be hard but I’m also excited as it feels like a week where we can start to think about what walking out means. What carrying your own baggage up and down hills feels like and what walking on the edge is. I’m curious to sit with my own stories of baggage, abuse and family history and what conversations Viv and I will have with each other and the artists and participants that join us.
welcome to my blog
I'll be posting my personal reflections on creating work as an artist with mental health needs, my work with the wider sector and interesting developments in arts and mental health.