Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Self Worth/Love

And now we come to yet another thing that has been mulling around my head for... well... for years!

Self worth, self love, be kind to yourself, body positivity, body acceptance, loving your body for what it does for you, etc. All of that jazz.

I have spent my entire life hating me. Who I am. What I look like. Things I've done. 

I have said things more cruel to myself than I have ever had someone else say to me (and I've had some pretty cruel things shouted at me by strangers). More cruel than I would even say to my worst enemy.


In fact today I lay on the couch thinking about how I am a complete and utter failure and then, just to make myself feel worse, I got up, grabbed a tube of red lipstick and marked all of the bits of my body I don't like. Red lines and dots everywhere. I looked like those diagrams of cows you see in the butcher that tell you where each cut of meat comes from. In fact, I thought that to myself and then I actually said "but no-one wants such a fatty piece of meat".

Really. Really. Really!?

Is this how I am going to spend my whole life?

I lost my job last month. I was working there for almost 8 years. It was welcome in so far as it was really time for me to move on but also it turned out to be unwelcome because not only did I have my confidence trounced on for 90% of the time there but I was effectively told (without actually being told) that my role was unnecessary.

No matter how you dress it up, it hurts. It hurts where I was already hurting. 

Sure I understand that the role was made redundant and not the person... me... but it still smacks.

I've decided to take a little time off to write which is why this blog is slightly more active than it has ever been and I'll properly start the job hunt in January. However, I spend most of my days being afraid that I'm not a good writer so I'm wasting my time and then creeps in the thoughts of "What am I actually good at!?" and then suddenly I'm down the rabbit hole of berating myself for not being good enough.

I try and try and try and yet I'm still sitting here feeling like nothing I have ever done has hit that sweet spot of perfection (Look, I know perfection doesn't exist and yet still we all search for it...).

I'm tired. Really tired. And struggling with dark days/weeks/months. I still get out of bed and hope and try but it is getting harder to see that bright light at the end of the tunnel.

I've taken on the expectations others have for me and elevated them to a level that no one could ever reach. See? The rational side of my brain sees that, acknowledges that and ignores it.

I spend most of my time feeling like I've let people down. Other people. Not myself; although that happens more often that I would like it to. Always fixated on what other people think I should be doing and how I should be doing it. Losing myself in the process...

Then there's the body stuff. I have been above what is considered a "straight" size (that's a phrase I just learned) for most of my life. I have had every insult there is about being bigger from people I know, strangers, and, mostly, from myself.

I have diaries that show how I've bullied myself from the age of 9. Weight was always top of my ranting; ranking even above romance which is shocking!

I settled in relationships where my weight was commented on by my partners. My first ever long term boyfriend even told me that he was breaking up with me because he was less attracted to me because of my weight. Things like that stick with you.

I don't look at other people and see their weight. I see their beauty, their smiles, their eyes, the way they hold themselves. I could write the most beautiful poetry on these things alone.

But when it comes to me. I can't see it.

I joined WeightWatchers in 2012, not long after my daughter was born. I will never forget stepping on
the scales that first day when the "leader" said "Oh! We'll have to take it slowly with you!". Shame. I still cringe when I think of that memory. 

I don't blame her. She was doing what she was paid to do. Over a year and a half I lost weight until I got to the 3rd goal they set me (yeah, they lowered my goal weight twice over that time). That goal felt good. Just as good as it did to feel hungry because I set my mind to the idea of hunger being a good thing. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, they said.

Christmas 2013, an old friend came up to me to tell me he had met up with people we went to college with and told them "Have you seen Shivvy? She got hot!". There it was. Affirmation.

I was running 60-70km a week. I was walking 10km a day. I was eating maximum 900 calories a day. BUT! I was hot! I was noticed! 

Then came what I now know to be an eating disorder. I gained weight because I started to allow myself to live life a little. I freaked on the scales. Morning and evening I was checking. The morning weigh would determine how the day go and the evening weigh would either congratulate me or send me spiralling into starvation or overdosing on laxatives.

One time in work, someone said to me "OH! Your face!". I stood there confused. "It's so bloated!!" I tried to laugh it off by saying "Haha! I had pizza last night. Maybe that's it." Little did I realise that this seemingly innocent conversation would begin what some colleagues called "Face watch". They would take turns guessing whether I had eaten pizza or not the night before depending on how bloated my face appeared...

That really didn't help things.

The skinniest I've been in the last 3 years was when I was diagnosed with depression. Of course I was skinny, I paced my apartment because I couldn't bear to go outside and the only food I ate were peas... supplemented with laxatives.

Lockdown hasn't helped my body image but I have a little more time to try and take the time to learn to love who I am. It's a work in progress.

I haven't taken anything silly in the last 5 months. My therapist recommended this great book called "The F*ck It Diet" which has helped me deal with realising cravings are ok and cheese is not the devil! But as I said, it is a work in progress. 60% of the time, I'm ok. Then that 40%... Pfft, that 40% is difficult to say the least. 


As I write this, I actually haven't even eaten today. I went for a bath after drawing the lipstick lines all over myself, had a glass of wine, did my make-up and spent 2 hours poking and prodding my rolls in front of the mirror. 

They're me. They're me trying to cope with all of the craziness in the world right now. They're me trying to forget about calories and restriction. They're me celebrating every time I go to the chemist and I don't buy laxatives.

Fuck.

I don't even really know what I'm writing anymore.

But I do know that I'm writing this so that I can get compliments from anyone who may read it. I'm writing this more for the people who think I am insanely confident and have my shit together.

I'm not and I don't.

Life should be for living. And life should be enjoyed. And no matter how tired I get, I will never ever stop trying to get to a point where ok is good enough, where other people's opinions of me don't matter, where I can look in the mirror and thirst myself every single time.

I am me even if I don't know who that is and whether or not I like it, I gotta learn to love imperfect, flawed me.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

First Dates


Yesterday I binge watched various romantic films. Some good. Some horrendous. But whatever, I love terrible movies. Especially terrible romantic holiday films.

I love love. Always have, always will (despite my heart begging me to quit it).

I've had various relationships over the years; long term, short term, "fun" friends. Heck I've even been the unknowing "other" woman. Still, no matter how many times I get hurt, I bounce back up again and hope.

I used to believe that my life would be complete once I met "the one". I dunno if I necessarily believe in "the one" anymore but I do believe in love. And most of all, I believe in first dates.

I am grinning as I write this. 

First dates... My first ever first date was when I was 28. I'd been on dates before but they were always after a stolen kiss in the nightclub (I am writing that to sound way more romantic that the reality).


That first date was wonderful. He was gent who had a great sense of humour. We had some drinks, we played some pool and he kissed me at the end of the evening. A great kiss. We ended up seeing each other for a few months after that and even though it ended, I still think back on that time and smile.

The power of the first date.

The nerves as you get ready.

The fantasies that you try to push back so as not to get your hopes up.

The trying to figure out how not to be the first one there or to be the first one there so you can be set for when they arrive.

The do you hug or kiss on the cheek or maintain a distance.

The opening strains of conversation.

It's all good up to here.

Then obviously the date can go one of two ways. Great or bad (I include meh dates and the "we're better as friends" dates here; you don't date to make friends). 

I'm going to focus on the good because I'm sticking to the positive today.

As I sit here just typing what comes into my head, all of these amazing memories are making me stupidly warm and cuddly.

There was the first date where we went up the Dublin mountains on cold night with flasks of tea to watch the lights of the city.

There was the first date where we went to a Mexican restaurant and I accidentally ordered a whole chicken for dinner and he had to cut my food for me because after I attempted to dice that chicken I sent black beans flying all over the place.

There was the first date where we didn't want the conversation to end so we went back at his place and he sang Damien Rice to me (sounds cringe but I can assure you that if the person is talented, you go with it and you melt).

No matter how these relationships ended, it nice to focus on their beginnings and remember why you were drawn to that person in the first place.


That first kiss. The one where you're trying to suss out whether or not they want to kiss you. Should you let them make the move? Should you make the move?

And then before you know it, they have placed their hands on the sides of your face, hooked them under your ears, looked into your eyes, and leaned in...

I really, really miss good first dates...

Anyway, I could go on but it would turn into the most ridiculous romantic drivel so I'll stop there and hope that you can look back on some of your first dates and smile.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Use a different excuse to not date me

I have a million things I need to be doing right now but I just had to sit and write about something that's been on my mind a lot lately.

How would you feel about dating a person who had a child with someone else?

I had my daughter when I was 25. I was in a long term relationship that ended when she was 2 and since then I had one other serious relationship.


I've dated. A lot. TV shows depicting singletons make it look a heck of a lot more fun than it actually is.

I've been upfront about having a kid and been ghosted. I have hidden that I had a kid and been ghosted. I've not talked about my kid and been told I don't mention her enough. I've also talked about my kid and had the subject quickly changed.


There is no win. You never know how a potential partner may feel when confronted with the extremely obvious evidence that you have in fact copulated with another individual.

When myself and my daughter's dad broke up I remember convincing myself that I was damaged goods and that no-one would ever want to be with me because I'm a mom. And as you know, when you have a child THAT DEFINES YOU. 

Everything about you is that child. 

YOU ARE A PARENT. 

YOU HAVE NOTHING ELSE GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE APART FROM PARENTING.

Yeah. This was only further affirmed by a (ex) friend of mine sending me a flurry of 4am texts after a night out telling me how he was "flattered" that I had shown interest in him romantically ("Did I?" was my first thought) but that he wasn't ready to be a father (ignoring the fact that my kid has a perfectly good father present in her life) and that I'm a "great girl who will make someone very happy someday" (ehhhh... splendid?) so, essentially, "thanks but no thanks".

I'm paraphrasing. I could go and look for the messages but I'd rather not pick at that particular scab.

That guy hit every single sensitivity I had around being a single mom who would like to meet someone.

It hurt.

Still kinda does if I'm being honest.

Looking back, I do think the real shock of this whole scenario was that he had made up his mind that I was into him... Bit of a stretch considering I was trying to get stuck into an ex.

Meh.

That chap is married now and has a baby. Good for him. 

It took a while for me to tease out all of those insecurities, deal with them head on and finally realise that if someone doesn't want to be with me, then they don't want to be with me. My kid has nothing to do with it. No matter what, if the person is right... well, then the timing and conditions will be right.

I remember being at a friend's wedding a couple of years ago. I had gone to chill out for a few minutes in a locked toilet cubicle when a group of ladies came in. They were chatting about dating and one of them mentioned that she had gone on a few dates with a guy but called it off because he had a kid and she just wasn't ready for that sort of commitment and she didn't know how she felt about him having a child with someone else. I stepped out of the cubicle. There was no disguising the shock on their faces. Quick apologies were flying at me because they "meant no disrespect".

I didn't feel disrespected. I wasn't upset. I actually thought "fair play" to the woman who was saying she broke it off because she wasn't sure how she felt. To me, I would rather that than go through months of dating, "catching feelings" and then finding out. The heartbreak is so much worse.

A quick rip of that band-aid rather than the crushing soul-destroying "I'll be alone forever" heartache.

Oh I have eaten so very much ice-cream in a fruitless bid to numb the pain of a good aul dumping.

Anyway, I'm kind of just landing this on the page as I think and I have to go and collect my child from school.

It's just something that creeps into my head.

Yeah. I have a kid. I'm 35. We ALL have something going on by the time we hit our mid 30s and if you don't, have you really even lived!?!

Date me or don't. I'm cool with it. Just don't make it all about my kid because I have so much more wrong with me that you could use as an excuse!

Anyhow, I'm getting cats.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

"We need your bio"

As soon as I hear or read these words, my mind melts and I feel like I am the biggest imposter/failure/brag artist ever.

I get the same feelings when I think about updating my CV. So I don't. I send my crappy draft to friends and get them to write down just how fricking amazing I am (Sorry, friends!).

I know I'm not alone in this.

Most of us find it difficult to receive compliments and to talk about our achievements, especially after the excitement of the achievement has passed.

When people see my dire CV or my attempts at writing a bio they always have to remind me of the many good things I've done and then I end up all like "Ah yeah, but that was ages ago!". 

We spend so much time telling ourselves to "let go of the past" and "live in the now" while "working toward a better future"; so much so that the holes in the sieves that are our minds expand and everything goes. The bad stuff goes (sometimes but that stuff seems to stick like limescale to the element of a kettle... can you tell I'm facing my kitchen?) but also so does the good stuff!

We have great memories when it comes to tragedy and trauma. It's not only kept in our minds but the body knows the score and all that jazz. I just wish I could retain the amazing things just as clearly.

Again, I know I'm not alone in this so this is not some earth-shattering "Oh my god, me too!" moment. I promised myself I would get used to blogging again and this is what came into my head... Because I have to write a bio...

So I sit here writing this in yet another bid to avoid writing the bio. Earlier distractions included knitting a pair of legwarmers, cleaning my oven, and dancing about to my burlesque playlist. I mean I do avoidance really well but that's not something which I think would win me points on my bio/CV.

It doesn't help that my confidence has taken quite bashing over the last 6 months. Furlough bled into redundancy. My brain knows that redundancy is the position and not the person but, bloody hell, as break ups go, this was a toughie. I mean, now I sit here wondering what I'm actually good for, what should I do next, how do I pay rent... BLAH DI BLAH BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. (Just bit of frustration there)

I have decided to take some time off to work on some creative projects (which I have loads of) and therefore am calling myself a writer.

I told my kid not to tell people I am unemployed; tell them I am a writer. 

She has taken this request too far and now whenever anyone even mentions me to her she says "Mom's fine. She's a writer.", "Mom will send in a note. She's a writer.",  "Mom cut my hair. She's a writer.", and "The toilet is broken in our apartment. Mom is a writer."

Yeah... Need to have a chat with her about how the mom being writer thing should only come up if someone asks her what I do for a living.

So here I sit. With free time. A laptop. And many pens.

A writer who cannot write a bio. A writer who feels like she needs to keep her light under her bushel so as not to seem full of herself. A writer who is wasting your time just as much as her own by writing this.

But hey! It's writing!

Fine. I am awesome. I shall write the sodding bio... After I clean my windows.

(I'm sure I'll get better at this...)

Monday, 16 November 2020

Step One...

It's been a long time since I considered myself a blogger... Probably about 9 years which is a bit insane. I used to blog about everything and anything and now as I sit here trying to flex those writing muscles, I'm finding it so very difficult.

Over the last few years I've focused mainly on poetry and only writing when something huge is happening in my life and now... I feel blank for the first time.

It's not that there's nothing going on. It's me and if you know me, there is always something going on. 

I should start this renewed blogging attempt by mentioning that I finished up in my job last week. I worked there for nearly 8 years. I made so many friends, I learned a lot. At this point in time, there is no need to go over the negatives. There were a LOT of negatives but I guess it turns out I'm pretty resilient and therefore just got on with things. Anyway, I'd rather look back with rose-tinted glasses than feel a frustration that I can do nothing about.

When I knew my time in the company was coming to an end, I decided to take some time off to chase dreams for a little while. That sounds silly I'm sure but if there is one thing I don't want to regret when I'm on my deathbed, it's that I didn't even try.

I listened to all of the rational and realistic advice and so my back-up plan became my life. I didn't even try to chase the dreams of theatre and words but they were always there, at the back of my head. Calling me. Making the corporate world all the more difficult for me to fit into.

Hey, I'm not saying that I will succeed in giving this life a go but at least I will have tried.

I've given myself a deadline to see how far I get and what I manage to accomplish and then I'll re-calibrate and go from there.

It's terrifying. It's exciting. I feel alive.

My first step is to give this blogging lark a go again.

Step one taken-ish...

This was a non post but it is a post nonetheless... 


*ahem*

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

My Story

I'm sitting here at my laptop trying to get my thoughts into some sort of order so that I can write about things which I wasn't even able to write in my diarys.

Over the years I've mentioned some of things which happened in my life, whether it was blatently or hidden in the riddles of poems and prose but for the first time ever I feel like I can actually put it out there and get it off my chest.

Last Friday, Twitter was flooded with the various stories of the abuse some women have gone through. It started off with a certain person and then the floodgates opened and women were speaking up about their experience all round.

My phone had been off so I missed it when it all started to come through but friends had sent me links I received once I was back online. Messages because I knew one of the people being outted. Luckily, nothing happened with this person but enough to make me feel sick. I had looked into the eyes of a monster, I had invited them into my home, I had offered my hand in friendship because I thought them deserving.

I was wrong.

While I am mainly unscathed by this particular person, I can't help but go back over some of abuse (the first time I'm calling it that) that I endured.

I spent the last few days in a complete tailspin. Not knowing what to say or do with myself. Do I just put back on the mask I always do and pretend like I'm not hurting? Do I fall back into old habits of re-playing the instances over and over again so I can see exactly where I went wrong? Do I just hide away from the world until it all inevitably quietens down again?

These were the things I have spent the last 18 years doing and they didn't help those times so why would they help now?

No.

This time I am going to look at my stories dead on and tell them for what they were. Abuse. Abuse which left mental scars that, while faded, are still there to this day...

I never had much confidence. I was always worried about my weight, would people like the real me, would anyone ever fall in love with me?

Love. That little four letter word ruled my life.

I had my first kiss when I was 16 and I felt grateful for this boy wanting to kiss me. There is an extensive extremely romantisised diary entry about this...

I lost my virginity to my first boyfriend in a less than romantic setting. He dumped me a week later.

Fleeting teen romances for which I was all too grateful for. Someone actually wanted me, even if it was for a short time.

I had Charles in the background (that's a whole other story) always telling me I was perfect but then when he was gone, I'd lost my biggest cheerleader. Someone who always gave me hope.


****


The Summer before I turned 17, I went out with a friend. Determined to get into a nightclub, we lashed on the make up, dressed like "grown ups" and hit the town.

We did not get in anywhere.

While planning our next move, these two guys came up to us and started to tell us about a house party that they were on the way to. Myself and my friend were not about to give up on our night so we tagged along.

There were beers, there was weed, there were games, it was fun. I remember laughing and joking... and I remember one of the guys looking into my eyes before he kissed me.

I'm not quite sure how but we ended up in another part of the house and we had sex. It was fine from what I can recall. Fully consentual. And over very, very quickly.

We went back into the main room to re-join the party and after a few minutes one of the other guys said (and I'm still burning with shame when I type this) "Wanna see yourself on TV?"

I was confused. "I've seen that before. Thanks"

"Not having sex you haven't."

I'm sitting here right now feeling exactly how I felt back then. Physically sick.

Myself and my friend left the party then. I don't remember us talking about. We probably did but I have this thing where when I'm in a hugely emotional state I can't remember conversations. I've lost a lot of memories to this. Something to work on.

All I remember is feeling ashamed, dirty, and like this had now changed any path I wanted to take in life at the time. All of the 'what ifs'  became centered around that video.

I tried so hard to put it out of my head. The memory though would come crashing back every time I thought about being an actor or a published writer, my dreams. I couldn't follow them now because that video was out there. This made it all the easier to go straight to the back-up plan my family always said I needed.

I managed to move on somewhat though and began to be able to walk around that town with my head up again... Until April 2004 when I was studying in the library there.

A group of guys were at the table across from my friend and I and we had gotten chatting. After a few hours, one of them said...

"I knew I recognised you! You're the girl from that video!"

I might as well have been right back in the moment of the previous Summer. I couldn't escape it.

But that was that town. The internet wasn't quite what it is today.

So I had another town. A town where the video didn't exist.

A town where I had friends and I was safe... Until I wasn't.

It was May 2004 and we were all going out for a friends birthday. I was the only 18 year old of the girls and the night is blurry.

I remember getting into the club. I remember kissing the friend of a friend's boyfriend. I remember that he was staying in the same place as me that night. I remember walking with him back to the house.

Then... I remember waking up while we were having sex.

I remember saying "no" over and over again.

He said "Fuck" and finished.

I remember telling friends what happened.

I remember going home the next day with a t-shirt in my underwear because I was bleeding so much.

I remember crying myself to sleep that night and many nights after.

All was calm for a few weeks until I realised no-one was talking to me. I had texted the guy of a friend and kissed him and it all came out. I did a bad thing. I shouldn't have done that. It must have come out.

It did.

But a girl from my class pulled me aside before we broke up for the Leaving Cert to tell me what was being said.

Apparently I was raped and deserved it because of what I was wearing.

I was raped. I deserved it.

Because I was wearing a strapless top and a pencil skirt that had a slit up the side to my thigh.

I deserved it.

No one else told me what was happening and I'll always be grateful to that girl for telling me what was said.

I did my leaving cert and I left that school.

It was Summer and I didn't have to worry about ever needing to go back there. I called for my Leaving Cert results rather than go back there to collect them.

August 2004.

The Fleadh Cheoil had come to the other town. The town I avoided unless I was working (in the worst cafe ever!).

I was scheduled to work for that whole weekend and rather than have my Grandpa come collect me after my shifts finished, I opted to stay with a friend.

The Friday night was wonderful. I kissed a girl for the first time and we laughed. I kissed the boy who I will always and forever remember as the one who got away. We sat by the Suir and drank poitin with hippies and fell a little bit into heaven that night. I actually can't stop smiling as I think back.

On Saturday, a group of us met for drinks when my work shift finished. I hadn't drank that much but I think it was about 2am when I was on my way back to my friend's apartment.

I decided to take a shortcut behind a church.

I turned a corner and a guy came out of his house and told me to stay still.

I froze.

I was terrified.

He walked toward me and I couldn't move.

He grabbed my hand and brought me back into the shadows of the building. Where no one could see.

He turned me against the wall and pulled down my trousers.

There was something in the way he was that made me realise that it was let this happen or die.

I let it happen.

He hit me. Over and over again.

And finished. Walked away. Left me to fix myself.

I adjusted my clothes and made my way back to my friends apartment.

I was numb. My friend didn't notice. She went to bed and left me on the couch.

The next morning I opened up to her and told her what had just happened.

Her response?

"You shouldn't have walked home that way."

I went home and didn't speak of it.

The next month I left Tipperary vowing to never live there again.


****


I never reported anything that happened to me. Why would I? People I had trusted crushed me. Maybe I was in the wrong. Maybe I had asked for it. Maybe I deserved it. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

I spent years trying to figure it all out in my head. Not quite understanding the anger others felt when I told them. It was my fault afterall. I was the one in the wrong.

Only over the last few years have I realised that I didn't deserve these things happening to me. I learned that sex can be intimate and wonderful and not something taken or given by way of a bribe to 'like' me.

I am lucky that I have surrounded myself with amazing people who get me, understand me, and have taught me that what happened wasn't ok. It was far from ok.

This is me writing my story so that anyone who may read this who has had similar things happen to them can know that they are not alone.

I did not ask for any of this.


****


I never reported any of this stuff. I was so broken by the words of others and the society that will live in. I didn't even know there were places to go and people to talk to.


****


I'm stopping now because I've finished writing what I set out to write.

To those women who are speaking up and out, thank you. You give me and so many others strength.

Your voices are not alone.
I sing your song.
I sing out loud.

And I refuse to stop.


****


https://www.womensaid.ie/
https://www.rcni.ie/
https://www.pieta.ie/





Sunday, 26 January 2020

'Voices'

Last year I set myself the goal of writing a poem every day, even just a line. Some days I missed, some days I wrote a lot more than I had intended and so 2019 ended with a small suitcase full of my scribbles.

I once read that "poetry is when you stop thinking and just feel" and that felt more true than ever when I attempted my challenge.

There were those days where all I could write was "Breathe" because I needed the reminder but there were the times where I needed to let my heart lead my pen.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that I know all about poetry. I don't. There are so many different styles, far more than what you learn in school. Don't get me wrong, Seamus Heaney is great but what about Leonard Cohen and Jim Morrison? And heck, I've just fallen in love with Scroobius Pip and Kate Tempest. Poetry is so more than what we were taught. There are more meanings than teachers lead us to believe, we just have to be that little bit more open to it and toss aside how we were told to think in school.

Anyway, I am really going off topic here!

The whole purpose of me writing this post is that last October I pieced together some monologues and poems I had written over 18 months and submitted them as a script to Smock Alley Theatre's Scene + Heard Festival. It was a long shot but, as they say, if you're not in, you can't win.

As silly as it sounds, I don't think I'll ever forget the evening I got the acceptance email. I love to write but I don't have my faith in my content or my abilities. It's only recently that I've even started putting my name to poems rather than posting them anonymously on a separate Instagram account. But my writing got in. I may (read as totally did) scream when the email came through.

The thrill of an audition, of the stage... nothing has compared to the feeling I felt when I read that my
writing was going to be performed on the Smock Alley stage. It was validation, something I've been trying to train my mind to not need. I am a writer. I do read and enjoy poetry. I am a poet. It feels so wonderful to not feel embarrassed saying that out loud.

So... what's my play about?

I struggle to describe it to people who aren't directly involved with the production. I've been leaning on my assistant director, Ciaran, to explain what I seem to be unable to do. He's all sorts of amazing and has been my rock since November. Putting up with me and my neurosis is not an easy task.

It's not that I don't know. It's that... well... it's made up of my stories. Like, literally my stories. The poems and monologues are all based on different times in my life, different people in my life; some good, some really awful. One of the things I firmly believe about writing is that you should always write about what you know and I have spent the last two years trying to figure out who I am so I may as well be brave enough to share my findings. Essentially what is going on that stage is my heart.

It is terrifying. Beyond terrifying actually. However, my stories aren't just my stories. They are the stories of so very many women out there. We keep our secrets so that we can stay shiny in the eyes of society. Secrets that could break us but yet, somehow, we still get up every morning (or try to at least), put on that face, and brave the out. Through various conversations with women who I have encountered over the years, I know I'm not alone and there is a comfort in that... But we shouldn't have to enjoy this camaraderie in the shadows. Actually we shouldn't have so many of these stories in common in the first place.

I won't go into the content because I want you to come see the show and if I reveal too much then what's the point of that?

I am so very lucky in the cast of people who have agreed to give my words their voices. Louise Dunne, Charlotte Keating, Kate Cosgrave, Rahul Dewan and Megan Carter, thank you for agreeing to come on board and for putting up with my abundance of emotions after every single rehearsal. I will always be grateful to you.

Michelle ni Fhaircheallaigh (I'm finally able to spell your name without having to look it up), you have the voice of an angel and we all promise to not keep quiet anymore.

My brother and my daughter. Singer and artist.

Terry Kenny, you took a blurry photo and made something beautiful.

My father. He gave me the gift of words and being able to use some of his writing in this piece fills my heart. So far away but I keep him close.

Gah... This is becoming some dodgy Oscars speech or something so I should stop now.

I wrote this because I need to get used to explaining what my show is without either pawning people off on poor Ciaran or downing a glass of wine for courage.

I do hope that you can make the show and I would accept any and all feedback because I intend to develop into something much bigger.

If you've read this far, thank you! I'll stop now.

'Voices'
The Boys' School, Smock Alley Theatre
21.30, February 12th & 13th
Tickets can be purchased here