Facing Truth

Abi Underwood-Green blends genres in this creative and poetic essay exploring reasons to write evoking themes of trauma and the quotidian.

There will always be reasons not to write.

The window pulls my attention; the lightly swaying branches stripped naked by the autumn
breezes. The time; reminding me of how little daylight we have left, the waste I am
permitting by sitting here in my own climate instead of out there. ‘It might be raining!’ An
excited child tugs at my dressing gown and asks me why it’s not a raincoat. ‘I need to write’,
I tell them. They take control of my hands, put the pencil down and try to close the

Then I drift away thinking about the food I haven’t eaten for breakfast. A large display light
shaped as an arrow pops up to distract me, to show me where the food is. ‘You should eat!’
It blinks in bright LEDs.

Everyday used to be a gift. Excitement ushered in every fresh morning. Now, each day feels
like an obligation, a blank page asking to be written on in a pen I cannot find. Why don’t you
want me write? When did these silent shackles bind me? I look around for answers. There is
no one here. No one to shout at me, no one to degrade me, no one to take my ideas and rip
them up, tell me everything I believed was fundamentally wrong, immoral, and then go on a
two-hour stoner rant crying defensively that I’m trying to silence them when I ask for peace
and quiet.

I do need to eat. I skirt around the edges of true therapeutic engagement with writing,
instead allowing the stories and strains of streams of consciousness to pull forth instead.
Perhaps this is what I need, so silenced have they been for years that they are now piled up
and jumbled, leaking and distracting me. I cannot know myself if I do not know these
stories. They’re shouting because they’re unheard. They have been for years; a cacophony
of unmet needs.

I touch near the truth – my hands try to close the pages again. ‘Nope, not today’ they cry,
‘we don’t want change today’. ‘It’s not change,’ I reply, ‘it’s space. There’s nothing to be
frightened of. There is no monster in your dark recesses.’

I picked up my phone. Why did I pick up my phone?

I remember being fearless, driven by an impulse fuelled with enthusiasm and curiosity. I
used to be the owner of so many questions, each answer piling on more questions. These
days, I am left sequestered by an unknown entity. Something non-specific. Vague shadows
on the peripheral. What is it? Am I afraid to lose myself completely into something, some
transcendental activity that removes the boundaries of space and time? A fear to be pulled
out? A fear that it will be over, eventually, and I’ll have to come back… to this? A fear that
the produce I’ve harvested will rot from the inside out, be taken to the depths of hell and
branded unconscionable?

I see you, Fear.

And I defy you. You are a wolf in sheep’s clothing, dressed as a healer. Harold Shipman.
What suffering are you trying to ease? Nothing inside me is dangerous.
I am not dangerous. I am kind, and sweet and loved with an intensity that burns your hatred
away into ashes.

Oh, look, words.