strange fate

a man with a past —
how does he live with himself?
— only by striving
never quite to remember,
nor properly to forget

Huge issues here. My dreams were haunted (more than usual) by figures from my past. The reason is clear. Yesterday I told my story of ‘recovery from mental illness’ as part of a Mind in Camden training. I do this often and it can sometimes feel like a performance which lacks authenticity because the traumatic events are so long ago, more than twenty years or as many as forty. I wanted it to be fresher this time, and I succeeded — but at a price. I felt very drained afterwards, because I had gone so deep into myself for it. My ongoing struggles with pornography were at the front of my mind as I wrote the poem. In particular because I dreamed last night of the stripper referred to in my post here (whose name was Stella) and I guess that post was what made me think to myself: ‘I’m a man with a past’. It’s both dangerous and necessary to churn up the past. It’s both dangerous and necessary to insulate oneself from the past. Thinking about the dream and writing the poem made me realise what an impossible choice it is, between remembering or forgetting. You would expect (or I would expect) remembering to be always better, but the more truly you remember, the more precarious you feel.

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