Contrition and Catharsis

Manic Street Preachers at the O2, December 2011

Manic Street Preachers at the O2, December 2011 – a cathartic, celebratory night

This week, I had an argument with one of my closest friends. At its peak, a really tempestuous argument which involved slamming doors and shouting like a fishwife, which is something I don’t do very often but am actually quite good at! Later, we managed to have a good talk and get a lot of our emotions and the issues which had been simmering around under the surface out in the open.

It’s important to move on from these times, and perhaps they are needed – big arguments are a pretty rare occurrence in my life but are always significant. There are things I’ve got to look at

I’d been burbling on about the plans for the launch of my new writing business, as I’ve just booked the dates for the first taster course I’m delivering. This is all very exciting, but very scary! I’ve just come up with a new business name too. As soon as I’ve got everything sorted, I’ll let you know!

Therefore, my excitement was tempered with anxiety and insecurity. After a long day at work, moonlighting occasionally to scribble my own ideas and to book the venue for my taster courses, I was bursting to tell my friend. I hadn’t stopped to reflect all day. At the moment, I’m compelled to spend every second when I’m not sleeping or working in my day job, planning, writing and doing things to get my new life started, step-by-step. My life needs to stay afloat, and keep afloat when I finish work in a few weeks.

I appreciate that I’ve been irritable and have “snapped” at my closest friends and family, when they are just trying to make sensible suggestions or give me advice. This is partly a reflection of my own fears and doubts. I’m glad I’ve been “pulled up” about this. I’ve still got a lot to learn about myself, not least that I need to keep focussed on positive things. I’ve got to embrace my emotions as they come along, rather than pretend that everything’s great but I shouldn’t expect my friends and family to validate every idea I have – otherwise, I probably wouldn’t do anything! I need to listen to them and respect them though.

The same can’t be said for the “top dog”, otherwise known collectively as the “shitty committee”* that lives in my head and feeds me negative thoughts, just like those school bullies when I was thirteen who treated me like a freak, when, I realise now, that I was just a normal teenage girl who wanted to be an individual. The trouble is, for a while, I believed those voices, real and imaginary. I know I keep going on about this but the lovely world of Free Range Humans finally helped me to understand that I’m not mad, but that EVERYONE has these voices. In fact, you probably wouldn’t be “normal” be if you didn’t have them! The trick is kicking them into touch as soon as they arise. I’m not sure why I’m using a rugby metaphor here because I have absolutely no understanding of rugby, but that’s what you’ve got to do – jump up and down on the heads of the shitty committee until they realise that you’re just not taking their shit anymore!

On my long drive to work the next morning, I was still feeling chastened, but calmer. I felt the urge to listen to something dark and loud, to meet any negativity I was still feeling head-on. So I blasted ‘The Holy Bible’ by Manic Street Preachers down the M1 to Derby, singing along to the lyrics I’ve managed to decipher. For a while, I thought “So damn easy to cave in, man kills everything” from Faster was “so damn easy to Kevin”! It’s a notoriously bleak album, but I always find it very cathartic.

At work later that morning, I sneakily checked Facebook on my phone and Download Festival had posted that it was the 19th anniversary of Kurth Cobain’s death. I was 17 when Kurt Cobain died, and a big Nirvana fan. Nirvana are another band that can make you feel better if you play their music. Millions of teenagers from my generation onwards have felt the therapeutic effect of jumping up and down and crashing into each other to Smells Like Teen Spirit. Negative music can often have a happy effect. It’s s shame that it doesn’t always have a positive effect on its creators and Richey Edwards and Kurt Cobain are still very much missed.

Anyway, now I’ve cheered you up and brought you down again, here’s an article about an academic research project that proved that goths “grown old gracefully”, although I’d dispute what he says about people growing out of punk and rave from my direct experience. The journalist has clearly not been to Beautiful Days festival.

*I got the term “shitty committee” when I went to see Dudley Sutton at Beautiful Days festival last year, AKA Tinker from antique / detective show from the 90s, Lovejoy! He is absolutely amazing and guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Watch this. He is a legend!

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