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We Are What We Overcome – episode 22 – Putting the Past in the Picture

Intimate Podcast Recording

This was a super-weird episode of our podcast to record. Not all of us were available this month to have a proper chinwag, so a handful of us instead gathered in our new library (the mystery room we had constructed during lockdown) – anyway, I’m plainly prevaricating – a strong and lasting theme. Since it was going to be a little different, I offered the suggestion that we might go through some of my counselling diary that I maintained a decade ago. It felt like a logical extension of the clearing through junk and stuff that I’ve hoarded over the years. And it feels the same to me too: we accumulate physical and emotional detritus, and a lot of it is a drift of half-remembered memories and feelings packed down on itself. It’s a natural expression of how memory works, that we only really remember the last time we recalled a thing, and the next time it’s that second/third/nth recollection that we remember. I’m really glad that I maintained these accounts after my counselling sessions, because it’s a direct link to my mental state and the me of ten years ago. I don’t remember being this me of ten years ago, because I’m the me of now, but in reading these entries I find myself talking to an earlier version of myself. These are I guess my second hand accounts of my teenage years (vaguely treating this as an A-Level historian…). I also have all my dream diaries – agonised hand-scrawled entries of my late teenage years, and should I feel brave enough to dive back into them, I’d find myself looking at the me of 16. Very weird, but very useful. 

I definitely work myself up to reading tougher entries – and content warnings should abound here! I’m watching the episode while I write this post and still getting flashes of stress and horror, even at this now third-hand account. I think I seem pretty calm and collected. There are things that surprise me in these readings – I hadn’t thought I would name my abuser, but I did, and talked about the letters I’ve still got. Their physical reality is oddly shocking, despite knowing they exist.

Progress?

As podcast recordings go, We Are What We Overcome is always a little emotionally challenging because we’re talking about ourselves and that can be hard work. This one’s a little deeper for me than usual, but I think it’s valuable. Partly, it’s good to share the experience of what counselling and getting help can be like – we have many preconceptions and fears, and it’s OK to be scared of going back into this stuff. The past isn’t always a grand place to visit, but it’s how we got where we are. I don’t want to live there, but if I forget that I’ve ever lived there, then I’m forgetting a big part of how I’ve ended up who I am (whoever, and whatever that transient cloud of wants and hates I am right now). Stressful to record, and left me kinda frazzled for a week, but I think a lot of that was nerves about how I was going to feel afterward, and how I might feel about other people listening to it. That’s faded, and what I can take best from rewatching the recording of it below is that the emotional intensity of re-remembering these entries has greatly diminished. The parts that hurt are the repetition of his name – fascinating that just a single syllable still makes my heart shudder. But in general I can see and feel how far I’ve come from this. I wonder if I’ll put myself through more of this later. Oof, interesting!

Stuff I read in this episode: Self-Revelation | Putting the Past Into the Picture | Letters from the Past |

Listen to the podcast episode right here

Or if you’d rather watch my face as I read…

(I mean, why not…) this is the whole thing, including us chatting to warm up into the readings and conversation:

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We Are What We Overcome

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