When I was a little girl I used to say, “I want to love the world better.” But it’s a job I cannot do. Sometimes I can’t even love myself.
16 years ago I got clean. I was using heroin and crack, introduced to them by an ex-partner. Even then I wrote every day, journals and diaries and books of all descriptions. Sometimes it was almost illegible. I did the cold turkey myself, writing every terrible day. My dad would say, “This is the book that will help the world, this will be how you love the world better. The story of how you healed.”
When you come off heroin, your body is all pain. You stretch and you bend and you twist, you twitch your legs, they call it Riding the Bike. Couldn’t sleep, I’d be pacing, I’d be looking at the sky. In the middle of the night I’d be looking out for that chink of light at the darkest time, just before the daybreak. When it finally came I’d think I’ve done another day, I’ve been clean.
I wrote about it every day, every detail. A whole book. Then one day I burned it all. Maybe the weight of those pages was too heavy.
Maybe you know that book too.
WHISPER TO ME ALONE gathers experiences of people who have experienced homelessness — and the experiences of many other vulnerable people — in Manchester during lockdown. We’re using journals of writing, art, songs, phone conversations and embroidery.
Photo above: Featured embroidery, by Marylyn MacLennan for the quilt, Here Comes the Sun.
WHISPER TO ME ALONE is supported by Arts Council England. Partners include The Booth Centre, Back on Track, Bury Art Museum and With One Voice arts and homeless sector global network.
During the first lockdown the Booth Centre ran an advice drop-in and accommodated people under the Everyone In scheme. At 11am every day they ran a Facebook activity session to combat isolation, which included the arthur+martha WHISPER TO ME ALONE 2-minute poetry videos.