Cam wrth Gam – Step by Step

I have always believed that people should follow their passions – find the thing they love and do it with as much energy and dedication as they can muster. This belief often makes me a difficult party guest. I ignore the small talk and ask questions instead, try to uncover what the person uncomfortably holding their glass of wine aches for, dreams about, needs to be happy. I hope this intensity and lack of social compliance makes me at least a little endearing, but I’m not holding my breath.

I think, in part, my desire to uncover what really drives my family, my friends, my acquaintances and even strangers to do what they do stems from the need to celebrate my own passions. To this end, I cannot help but share one of the projects I am utterly in love with at the moment: Cam wrth Gam.

Meaning ‘Step by Step’ in Welsh, this project was born from a partnership between Making Minds and the Living Room in Cardiff. Together with fellow writer, Sharon Jenkins, and artists, Natalie Jones and (newly joined) Claire Prosser, we deliver four creative sessions per month designed to encourage participants to discuss their own lives as well as their experiences of addiction. Those attending produce their own creative pieces (writing or art depending on the week) and share their work in each session. We hope that in addition to giving the participants an opportunity to express themselves creatively, this series will allow us to produce a book which will give community members a better understanding of both addiction and recovery.

Today, I ran my fourth session at the Living Room which was short but powerful. The participants wrote list poems, shared stories about their addiction, and reflected on their year. I was touched, as I always am, by their warmth, honesty and resilience. And, not only have these individuals embraced me and my colleagues, they have also embraced my brother, Tim, who is currently in recovery from a heroin addiction back in America.

Every time I walk through the door they ask me how he is, how his recovery is going, what he is writing. Before one of our sessions the participants even ‘shared a meal’ with Tim over Skype – we ate our lunch while he ate his breakfast. Together we talked about halfway homes in the US and UK and discussed different approaches to recovery. They welcomed him like one of their own.  I never imagined that my love of writing and running workshops would give me the opportunity to feel so wholly accepted. It is humbling and I am incredibly thankful.

I hope in time I will post poems, stories and art from all the participants at the Living Room. But, until then, please enjoy a few pictures along with some poems my brother has written throughout his addiction and recovery process.

Tim Letters
At times I’ve contemplated suicide,
Cause the stories I told,
Could win a Nobel prize.
But even in death,
I can’t escape all of the lies.
We all know the truth hurts,
Much more than the fiction.
But I block it all out,
When I’m sitting there fixing.
My thoughts are all twisting,
Till they’re driving me crazy,
So I grab another bag,
For the next 4 hours,
This shit couldn’t faze me.
I blamed it on my friends,
And the family that raised me.
But how can I blame them,
When the choice was my own.
They didn’t kick me out,
I chose to leave home.
What happened was my fault,
I made all of those choices,
And now it’s time to speak up,
That’s why god gave us these voices….

 

where-are-you

This feeling of depression,
Is directly related
To the suppression,
Of my feelings
And how I handle,
My daily dealings.
With all the situations,
That I come across.
Some I can handle,
Others, I’m at a loss.
Why can’t you open up,
And accept their help?
Why don’t you care,
About what happens,
To yourself?

 

dangerous game
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This isn’t a game,
We’re not just shooting some dice,
This shit is real,
We’re playing with our life.
Like Russian roulette,
How many times,
Are we gonna pull that trigger?
The odds are against us
So how do we figure
That we can make it out of this,
Completely unscathed,
Suffering no consequences,
For the way we behaved.
We want to make moves,
And have everyone notice
That shit is hard work,
And we gotta stay focused
Or we’ll never make it,
In this fucked up society
We’ll be right back on the corner
Like them dudes,
Who were supplying me.
But they said if I let him in,
He will never deny me.
Someone to talk to,
About how I feel inside
But will he help me keep going?
And these obstacles surmount.
Cause at times,
It’s hard to move forward,
When you struggle with doubt.
They’ve told me to watch out
For the complacency,
They said I gotta let them in,
But there’s no vacancy.

 

Tim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Tim and to all the participants at the Living Room for listening, writing, and sharing your stories with me. I am forever grateful for your time, creativity and openness.

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