*trigger warning: mention of suicide.

I’ve used writing as a tool to explore my feelings for as long as I can remember.

I wrote my first poem when I was around the age of seven. I had been living out in the countryside with a huge garden and a cow pasture in my backyard. I wandered the fields, listened to echo of my giggles in culvet under the road, and walked to gas station to buy my dad his cigarettes (from the age of 5). When I was told we were moving to London, Ontario: the BIG city, this was my reaction:

We are moving today
In a house far away
By the city
What a pity
I don’t want to move today.

I would continue to write my feelings this way throughout my childhood and into my teens. There were short stories and poetry that seemed to get darker and darker the older I got (ah, teenage angst). I loved my English classes and learning new ways to use words and read. I went on to study linguistics.

Then, in my 20s, I stopped writing. I did not want to examine or understand what I was feeling. I lived at surface level on a one-way street. I was miserable.

At the age of 32, I left a relationship and moved out on my own with my kids who were the ages of 2 and 4. At night when they went to sleep, I could suddenly hear myself think and I suddenly wanted to hear my own voice. So, I wrote my very first and only song. It’s not particularly good and the guitar playing is weak, at best, but it came from a powerful force inside of me and it was the catalyst to my healing from the previous 13 years of swallowed silence.

I went on to write numerous blog posts about my life as a single parent, my travels, my love of Canadian Indie music, and I also wrote a lot of really, really dark poetry. I was healing. My scars were still tender yet they had hardened enough to block my way out of the darkness I was flailing around within. But every time I put my pen to paper, I saw pinpoints of light. Each poem or blog post completed, resulted in swooshing of relief.

Her Gift

He was desperate for a cure which he was certain had been hidden inside her.

His eyes begged her to save him; only she could save him.

His teeth shone as he flashed her his flattery.

He placed her on a pedestal.

Full of life.

Full of energy.

Full of everything he lacked.

Just one taste, he whispered.

But of course she gave more.

The air at this lonely height was thin and made her dizzy.

He grew impatient by her weakness.

They started to doubt her.

She started to doubt herself too.

He started to blame her.

She started to blame herself too.

He ate the guilt that spilled from her like candy.

But still, it crushed her soul and made her choke.

Stumbling to the edge,

she stepped into a swan-dive,

and sank,

into his darkness.

Crumpled on the ground, she lay before his outstretched body.

Her veins were stripped and her wrists rested on his.

Dry your eyes, you tried.

Close your eyes, you can rest now.

Dark, right? But you know what? I could not have made it to the other side of that darkness without writing about it. I needed to move through all of my pain and grief in order heal.

Then, after six years of living apart and co-parenting, without any warning despite all the red flags, my ex and father of my children took his life. Our lives, in addition to every life his had touched, instantly changed forever. And overnight, my writing had changed. I no longer wallowed in dark poetry. I looked at my life with new eyes. I began writing about him and our lives without him. The first real piece I wrote, went a little bit viral. It’s raw and true. Here it is.

Read: Dear Jerk

I kept writing about him and our journey through this new kind of healing until one day I looked around and decided that this was not the story I wanted to own. I did not want to be defined as that person whose ex took his life and who is now raising their kids on her own. My kids were older and their own experiences were deeply personal; not for me to share with the world. Also, I was constantly tiptoeing around the fact that I didn’t particularly like him; that my life with him had been so incredibly hard. I was filled with complicated edges of grief and was only really expressing one side of that. I was still swallowing my silence.

It was in my early 40s that all of my swallowing took over my body and it just crashed. I was in constant physical pain. As I searched for answers, it became clear that the only way I could heal my physical body, was to start with what was happening inside of me. Once more, I had heal. And once more, my healing started by picking up my pen. I wrote the story of a Pixie who swallowed a bunch of angry bees who now lived inside of her.

Pixie and the Bees is my first published book. I wrote it to help me heal, and I am honoured that so many others have found healing powers within it.

These days, I have a practice of journaling every morning along with my coffee. Those words stay in my journals though sometimes they prompt inspiration of thoughts to share with the world.

I’m also writing a novel, which has continued to bring healing. Stay tuned for more.

These days, in addition to writing, I work hard at bringing my own lessons and experiences of healing through the written word to others. That is why I created Open Sky Stories. Words connect us. Words heal us. Words matter. Your words matter.