'Kieli on mieli'
I am reading ’Henry and June’ by Anaïs Nin. I love the way she writes, with honesty and confidence. She is not held back by the same constraints or fears as I am. I was about to write inhibitions but then I would have to explain that by it I do not mean sexual inhibitions but verbal ones.
I struggle when I write (and similarly often when I speak). It is as if I was writing in the presence of someone who is ready, eagerly so, to correct me, to question me and mostly to mock me for saying things like ‘I feel’. Why do I even say that, ‘I feel that…’ instead of ‘There is…’ or even ‘I think…? ‘You think with your emotions’ was what my father said to us, me, I cannot remember who. We were all present, my little sister, my little brother and I, when he stomped over us all. Again my vocabulary in English is not enough. These events took place in Finnish. With that claim he crushed us, made us unable to defend ourselves, by undermining the very faculty by which we thought. Every time I begin to tell anyone about it, I cannot simply tell but I begin to explain with a terrible feeling that I cannot get the words out, that I don’t know how to describe what happened, that I cannot remember and I won’t be understood. The whole scenario comes to me as one, I feel an absurd pressure to be able to say it all at once and I am unable to. I cannot find the starting point, what happened next, cause and effect, reasons why. It comes to a dizzying end. I have to close my eyes and breathe slowly.
Lately I have been writing more. Notes about what I remember, events, my thoughts and feelings. Not a narrative, not to make anyone understand (although we, my siblings and I, are all burdened by this need in our own ways) but only as those things appear to my consciousness, usually with the first words that come to my mind. I fight against that presence in my mind that demands an explanation. That revelation to not seek the essence or hold an objective statement (which was something that I have tried to extract of myself) as the pure truth came when I read a book called ‘At the existential café’ (by Sarah Bakewell) which touched upon phenomenology several times. Why exactly this was such a turning point I cannot remember. I wouldn’t even be able to claim that I have understood everything. And here I am, on the dock again, being chased by my opponent. It seems to imply that if I cannot give an explanation my thoughts are not valid. I know that I am getting closer when that dizzying feeling hits my forehead and I find it hard to breath. Even now I have exhausted myself and I let it go. One day I will be able to uncover it all and be free.
My friend Tytti said to me that she would see me on the couch of a Parisian psychoanalysist, in a dim room, telling him everything. I would just love it. One of the constant thoughts or day dreams that I have is confining in someone. And one of the things that I have suffered from the most is I have not been able to talk to anyone about some events in my life, mainly because of the consequences of my own reaction to those very events. But I am also reluctant to put myself into that position again, of someone examining my words to such a degree. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that it has been a recurring theme in my life, to get too close to people who take a dominative role in other people’s lives. I have been burned by such people, whom I once have thought as friends as well as figures somehow in a position of power towards me. For example I saw a Christian councillor for a while. She helped in many ways but from the beginning she undermined some of my main concerns. Sometimes when she should have said back what I had just said (standard councillor practice) she changed some words and thus changed the meaning of what I had just said and tried to make me agree with it (a classic trick of manipulation) She also had some persistent views on what shape my life would take, including getting back to church. When I expressed my own thoughts about this she said ‘you are being rebellious’. I ended it soon after.
Writing is my psychiatrist’s couch now. At least for just now. For whatever reason it is important that these notes do not stay with me, unpublished and unseen but are out there, regardless of whether there is just a handful of people who read them or none.
I am tired again and I find it hard to breath. There is so much to write about, they are all connected and at times I am overwhelmed by the task. Other times I find writing such a relief and I look forward to it. The trouble is that this roll of thoughts starts going on in my head quicker than I am able to note anything down and in places where I am unable to do so. Tytti suggested that I carry a recorder with me which is a plausible idea. I might if I frustrated enough. Writing by hand is one the pleasures of my life. Black ink, white paper, the sound and the feel of writing on it, the shape of words. It calms me down, it slows me down. I cannot give it up.
So often when I sit down to write I doubt. I wish I would simply be able to record what I had thought. For some reason it takes an enormous effort for me to construct a sentence which is embarrassing to admit. I look at words, their shape, the way they sound. I am trying to make sense out of a chaos. I consider the grammar, verbs, nouns, pronouns. Does it flow, is the thought clear, is the sentence pleasing? If it is pleasing is it so at the expense of the meaning, of truth? I am aware of my mannerisms and I hate them, although one could say that they are part of one’s style. But style was a dirty word in the Art School and even though I disagree I feel that I am being undermined if someone remarks that I have ‘a style’. I am rarely satisfied and if I am I tend to be slightly tipsy. Most of all I at pains to write in such a precise way that no one – namely the ghost of that presence- can find any other meanings in it. Very often I get stuck, I cannot ‘solve’ the sentences, arrange or link them so that there is logic. I look at what I have written but am paralysed, unable to get out of the chaos. I am haunted by memories of my choice of words being singled out, put in a different light and twisted.
I consider ‘the voice’ I think in when thoughts come to me at an inconvenient time the more authentic one. I tend to lose it when I sit down to write and I don’t like the voice I write in then. But thanks to Anaïs Nin and the little understanding of phenomenology I have acquired I have been able to preserve this more authentic voice for a little longer. I have been writing differently now, more freely but surprisingly it has required more concentration. I am in constant tension between what I think I am expected to say and what I actually think. I wrote a story recently about a day that I spent near the Pyrenees, what I did, saw and thought about, to me in that revolutionary method of describing things, writing down thoughts as they came to my consciousness. Without conclusions or exhaustive explanations, even within in myself. Simplicity and the simple, humble truth. I had to push myself but that writing process healed in me some ways.
There are wounds of which I wonder if they can ever be healed. I try, every day, to live my life to the fullest despite them, despite being robbed of my young years. Today I couldn’t. I was tired, afraid that nothing will change, because I am not able to change. I felt trapped. I resisted the thoughts of killing myself because I have vowed that I will never do it.
I took some photographs of myself again the other day. I don’t know what to write about it. I could write about feminist ideas, the male gaze etc but that although all that is very much the issue it would be beside the point. Feminist theories have opened my eyes but haven’t healed me. I am aware of it all being there, like a Freudian underworld within me, like elements in a video game world, still but ready to play their part at a command.