I wrote a poem this week and I received an unexpected response. Two people asked, one directly and one indirectly, “Was that about me?”. Such vanity I’m thinking!
First let me deal with the questions. No, it was not about you so, rest easy and know you both are still in my good graces. The poem arose from the reading and thinking I’ve been doing lately, about mental health and was particularly inspired by the number of victims I’ve read about. Victims, often, of narcissistic behaviour by another who should be acting as a carer or partner. So that’s that. Sorted. Go and sin no more, as the man said.
But the questions got me thinking some more and I’d like to offer that possibly “Yes” the poem was about you both. In fact let’s not hold back, “Yes” it most certainly was about you. Confused Pogue? Well let me elaborate.
Where does the authority lay when a text is written and offered to the world? Is it with the writer, or does the text take on a life of its own? Certainly the writer was trying to communicate and say something that was on her mind, had touched her life. But when it went out into the world it was read by people who read it with their own thoughts and experiences, thoughts and experiences the writer never had or even considered when creating. They probably had never spent time examining issues of mental health so did not have the original context that the poem spoke to.
And amongst those who read the poem maybe there were the people I was reading about. Those who cause the pain. The abusers. The manipulators. The bullies. And depending on their own mental state the words may have seemed very focused on them. So, maybe the authority lay not with the writer, or in the text, but with the reader.
Then maybe some were the victim in a relationship, an abusive bullying relationship, and the words written spoke to them in a manner different from the way they spoke to an abusing bullying reader (and any other reader for that matter). The words said, it’s OK to live the life you want. A normal life where you experience kindness and love. The words came with a little bit of hope. And yes, stick it to that person who is holding you down and causing you pain. The person who denies you kindness and seems incapable of love. As I so eloquently put it in the poem, go tell them “Fuck You” for today I take my life back. The thought makes me smile. I hate bullies in whatever shape or guise they appear.
All that said, I am hoping you have read the poem, Pogue, and have some context for what I am saying? If not, why not? You think I write these things for my own entertainment? If you have read it you’ll understand if I moderate my answer to the enquiry that prompted this letter and say, “Was it meant for you? Don’t flatter yourself, but if you find yourself asking the question, then yes, it’s absolutely meant for you”.
Don’t you just love the power of words, even when you didn’t meaningfully give it to them?
Pogue, go, live free and inspire anyone who reads this to do the same. And remember kindness is the currency we trade in.
Yours, feeling a little rebellious,