I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about poetry. As previously mentioned, I just completed a chapbook of poems about chronic illness, and I am now awaiting feedback from my trusted sources. In the meantime, I am looking into different publishing options and considering leaving my house to go to a poetry reading. That might not seem like anything, but trust me when I tell you it would be a big leap for me.
I have also been reading and rereading my chapbook, and I found that I have a common theme in many of my poems, and that is ghosts. I’d like to expand on that.
There are many kinds of ghosts in my life, ranging from those I create to those that are real. As far as real ghosts go, I have always believed in them, likely because of my imaginary community that was a little too specific for even a child’s make-believe games. Then there was the time K saw the faceless man in my attic, and I later learned that a guy shot himself up there. So yes, I believe in ghosts. You may think that’s ridiculous…whatever.
But I’m not here to write about real ghosts. Instead I am thinking of the ghosts from my poems, the ones that nip at my heels and haunt my mind. These ghosts are much scarier than the real thing, in my opinion. A real ghost can’t hurt you. The ghosts in your brain can do damage.
I have bad feelings related to certain times in my life. Once, when my grandmother died, and I found her in her last moments, and watched as my mother desperately tried to save her. This broke my small self, and according to my psychiatrist caused my first instance of PTSD. Later, came high school. I loved high school as much as I hated it. It reminds me of smoking cigarettes. I love smoking, but I hate my addiction to it. While high school was by no means an addiction, it is where I was at my worst, emotionally. I was undiagnosed and unmedicated, and I was a train wreck human being.
In my twenties, I suffered another setback. Through a series of events, I lost faith in many things I had once believed in. My response was to act out in small ways-drinking too much, smoking weed, staying out all night. I wanted to forget that I was in pain. I felt like I didn’t deserve to feel my feelings. That I couldn’t be angry, because who was I? In the grand scheme of things, in Gods great universe that I believed in at the time, who the hell was I?
So, there’s the ghosts. There’s the Gram ghost, the high school ghost, and the faith ghost. Now, the Gram thing doesn’t affect me on a day to day basis anymore, which is an absolute delight. From her death stems my anxities, however. For instance, if I care about you, you can guarantee I’m worried about you. So, I suppose in that way it has affected my life, but I feel like that’s a benefit more than a burden, really. Yes, I worry about you, but that’s how I express my love.
The high school thing likes to sneak up on me. I’ll be minding my own business, acting like a normal 36-year-old, and then something will happen or come up in conversation and I will be hurdled back twenty years. I particularly identify this time with my budding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I slid into my obsessions easily and frequently-sometimes it would be so bad I would actually wish I had the hand-washing kind of OCD, just so I could focus on something outside of my fantasy world. It took a lot of time for me to come to terms with my high school experience. I like to focus on the good things, though, when this particular ghost comes calling. Specifically, my friends. They were really the only good part. Well, and the building was nice, I suppose.
Finally, there’s the ghost of mid-20s past. This is the tricky one. This is the one that my therapist likes to bring up every so often to blindside me with: “So Brigid, let’s talk about the year you spent questioning everything you believed in…” This one is still a battle. This is the ghost that features most prominently in my chapbook, though all of them reside there.
Poetry is personal, in my opinion. You are sharing your observations and feelings, through the lens of your own perception. When I read poetry, I do the same thing; I look at it though my own frame of context. Sometimes, it will touch my soul, and she will scream out “Me, too!” and I will feel like I just made a new friend between the pages of a book.
I carry these ghosts around in my head, and I know I will never let them go, but that’s okay. They make up little parts of me, the parts that feel the deepest. They are the wellsprings from which I draw my words. My chapbook would not exist without them. My writing would not exist. So, I live with this haunted mind in hopes that one day someone will read my words and say, hey…me too.