2019 was both a momentous and horrendous year for me. On paper, a lot was achieved; but paper can be screwed up and cast aside – paper can be burnt on the wood burner to be released from the chimney flue in plumes of blue-grey toxicity. Paper counts for nothing when the mood and mind are a vacuum of self-loathing and cycle with questions and vindication. When the mind is set up like this, with every piece of positivity comes along a niggling and doubting voice that undoes all that was good in the initial moment; hence my opening gambit.
I loved writing Bird Therapy. The process gave me purpose and focus, and helped me to find an identity which is something that I explored in the book itself. Sadly, that identity consumed me and I began to become so engrossed in being Bird Therapy that I started to lose a grip on reality, especially in my much-explored battles with social media usage, mainly Twitter. In giving so much to writing Bird Therapy and sharing what I chose to within its pages, when it was published, I lost a part of me and went through a process of grief, which I wrote about here and to be honest, I don’t think I have got over that.I loved being on Twitter but on December 28th the Bird Therapy account disappeared forever. I sold myself out in there – using it as a replacement for the real world – seeking solace and friendship that although real in some ways, was never actually real when I needed it most. I also learnt the hard way that people who claim to want to help you, or be your friend almost always have their own agenda and when you need them or their help, they’re not there for you either. Someone who has been helping me through all of this said something to me recently which has helped me keep perspective on this: “People are usually disappointing. Assume that they will be and you’ll sometimes be pleasantly surprised.”
Many people disappointed me during the process of publishing Bird Therapy. If only I’d had that nugget of wisdom to reflect on. I learnt that no matter the persona that someone presents online, the majority of people of prominence, whether in my case – other writers or celebrities – have their own image and agenda to push. For example, several high profile writers feigned support of the book, gusting about real voices and true stories, but when it came down to it. Silence. To quote myself in the book and in several subsequent features: “birds are consistent in a way that people rarely are.” And so I continue to learn and to grieve for those pieces of me that I’ve lost and those pseudo-relationships that never were. I feel for those who as we shift further into the digital way of living, feel the innate need to please others in social constructs of limited characters and expression. I loathe the fact that I can’t share my teaching resource as widely now, but love the fact that a layer of anxiety has been flayed from my life. I love that the first bird I saw in 2020 was our resident Dunnock, in all its underrated beauty. I love the fact that I’m alive and want to be.