What if my destiny is to claw my way to greatness?”— Emma-Jane Barlow (From Weeds, Sins & Sunflowers, 2022)
It is the eve of my 29th birthday. Every year I like to reflect on the year that has passed but before I started to write this, I read my last two birthday blog posts for 27 and 28 and I marvel at how different my life has become in only 12 months. This is going to be a long journey to write in such a small space. Maybe I should start at the beginning? That would be a good place to start.
When I turned 27 years old in June 2020, I was unhappy. When I turned 28 years old in June 2021, you guessed it, I was unhappy. You wouldn’t know it from my words but I just didn’t want to admit to myself that the root of the problem was blindingly obvious, something major had to change in my life. I felt stuck, like a weed, anchored to the soil. I dreamt of becoming a sunflower with canary wings, I wanted bliss, I wanted to fly, I wanted to soar, I wanted so much more for myself. Then, a few months after my 28th birthday, October 2021 to be exact, everything in my world changed. The universe shook me like a tambourine until I was forced to admit some harsh truths, I had to peel back the rose coloured lenses and become the person I was always meant to be and it all began with a broken heart.
As the autumn leaves started to change, my 12-year relationship with my “childhood sweetheart” ended. But we didn’t just part ways because we had grown apart, there was no civility and shaking hands, only chaos, betrayal and pain. I never wanted things to end the way they did. It felt like it was happening to someone else. I was disassociated from the world and the people around me for months because I was trying to process the loss of everything I had ever known. I was yanked from the comfortable and familiar life I had been living for 12 years and all of a sudden, I had to start again. Alone. Build myself back up, brick by brick, discover who I was without this other person identifying my existence and purpose.
It has taken many therapy sessions to unveil my past traumas and to fully understand and accept that there was nothing healthy or gratifying about that long-term relationship. There was love there once, there was also growth and respect and honesty, but somewhere along the way, they all withered and it became toxic and I just didn’t see the signs. It has taken a lot of soul searching and shadow work over the past eight months to uncover the truth and understand the wrong choices I have made in the past decade of my life. I let myself grow small. I let myself be abused. I let myself live in someone else’s shade instead of giving myself the space to flourish and thrive as the bold and beautiful flower that I am.
In the hurricane of my heartbreak, I was compelled to write. As autumn faded into winter, emotions poured out of me and onto the page. I filled notebooks with verses of sorrow and I tried to find the reason and rhyme for everything that was happening to me by doing what I do best, write poetry. The end result was Sins & Sunflowers, my brand new poetry book, it is a raw and brazen collection that unearths some of the darkest truths that a broken heart ponders and it also explores the themes of finding new love and most importantly, learning to love yourself. Click on the buttons below to find out more…
So, I was now living in my mum’s box room. Staring at the ashen walls every day trying to figure out what the future would hold for me. I swam through all the different rivers of grief, denying my pain through a unfeigned smile, drinking red wine to numb myself, holding back the waves of anger that overwhelmed me and feeling dizzy from living as the past, present and future versions of myself. I was single for the first time and during those few months I explored my options, I had fun. Flirting, sexting, dating. I found a hidden confidence that I didn’t know was within me. I was finally getting somewhere with one guy that I was attracted to, but eventually, I was ghosted and left feeling used and worthless.
The journey of feeling worthless was how I discovered my worth. I knew then that I didn’t need anyone else to define me. I focused on myself and once I let go and fully embraced this new version of me, I found out something else, something I think deep down I have always known, I’m Autistic. When my therapist confirmed it, everything finally made sense. I’m not going to go into too much detail about my Autism here because this is my birthday post, but it was a blessing to finally understand myself and how I see the world.
Something else happened when I stepped out of the darkness and started to heal my heart. I met someone. An unexpected, beautiful surprise of a man that has shown me that I can fall in love again, learn to trust, fully embrace life and enjoy every moment. I am bursting with gratitude and admiration for him because he has shown me a new direction and a different path that I didn’t imagine my life would take. He is the sunshine I needed in my life and I wake up every day thanking the universe for giving me him and showing me that the love I still had in my heart, despite all its cracks, could find a new place to reside with someone else.
Fast forward to now and I am spinning under the disco ball, enthralled by the wonders that await me in the future. I am loving life again. I am finally breathing in the scent of blossoming hope and believing that I can be truly happy. I thought I knew what happiness was but I didn’t, not until now. I am going into my 29th year with grace and authenticity and carrying wisdom that outshines the grief and anguish I have encountered in the last eight months. The highlights of my 28th year are that I have found myself, found new love, found that change can be exciting and I have found that the strength to be a sunflower with canary wings was in me all along, I always knew how to fly and now I will soar towards 29 and be thankful because every day is a gift. The future for me is bright and I am going to dance beneath the sun, knowing that this happy poet has everything she needs to start living the life she has always wanted.