It all began when I started boarding school. I was 12 years old, a long way from the comfort of the farm, in a big city. On the first day, through the blur of tear stained eyes, I said goodbye to my family, and from that moment on, found myself having to navigate the world on my own. In colours it felt as if my life had moved from vibrant green to lifeless grey. I was terribly homesick and felt incredibly alone. The rules of the time, dictated that children and parents were to have limited contact, so that the children could ‘learn to manage’. Consequently at least for the first term, there were no phone calls, no visits and certainly no trips home. Apart from a couple of photos, a few well loved items, and my name sewed onto all of my belongings, I didn’t have much around me to remind me of who I was or where I belonged.
And so the writing began. Once a week on a Sunday, I would sit down at my desk and write to the family. Trying to sound cheerful, my letters became a place to share, my new world of experiences. Equally in return, I would receive weekly letters from my mother and as often my father, telling me the news of the farm, my brothers and how proud they were of me. Sometimes there might be a sprig of blossom from the garden or a newspaper clipping about the local footy team, tucked into the envelope too. All were equally treasured.
Letters became a place of heart-to-heart connection, and as such writing became a place for me to find who I was and where I belonged.
It is only now that I grasp the enormity of the joy and pain of the authentic voice on the page, that comes from this childhood longing to be loved and to be held, that runs deep through my stories told.
And so it is often the way, that not until I sit and write that I realize what is stirring inside of me.
Born from childhood experience, writing has become a place for deep exploration, articulation and sharing of experience.
Think back to your early years, what did you do to help yourself make sense of your experiences and to channel your energy? Was it imaginary play, music, construction, dance, sport or artistic expression…whatever it was, I invite you to consider making space for this part of yourself in your day-to-day life, and just see what springs forth…you may be amazed at the resource that lies within.
(Sarah Sacks works from The Grove Counselling & Therapy in St Kilda East. Often in her work she invites her clients to explore the use of reflective practices, as a tool to assist in their journey towards healing.)
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