Link your life has changed me as a writer, an artist and as a survivor.

Link your life

It is as if I have always been part of #LinkYourLife, it is a community – a home away from home. Upon waking each day I log in and visit my fellow link your lifer’s in our virtual world, where we open ourselves up in all our differing ways. With almost every subject you can imagine being woven into words and art, so that we can share ourselves in our most vulnerable and honest of ways.

This place would not exist if it were not for the forever giving and talented Shawna Ayoub Ainslie and Shareen Mansfield who together have opened their lives to allow us to share ours.

 

Link your life has changed me as a writer, an artist and as a survivor.

 

Link you life

As a writer:

Even though I have always enjoyed writing and have done so since being very young – keeping feelings diaries and having done creative writing therapy, I was never “a writer” but after lots of consideration to what I wished to do with my life and especially putting my education to good use, eventually deciding to add a year to my degree and change my direction slightly, having already completed my Philosophy and Psychology portions I still needed 120 credits to get my honours, so I decided to do creative writing, which I am now about to start my final year in.

Link your life came about during my first year of creative writing at university and allowed me to connect with fellow writers of all walks of life and credentials, which is the way I like it – as I do not believe a writers abilities are due to education, it is something within, but having a variation in any way is always better when in a community. Being part of this alliance of creatives was exactly what was needed to boost my confidence when sharing my written works. It was like an extra curricular group – an extension to my studies and very much helped me in finding my voice.

As an artist:

When I first started being a professional artist (in 2010) I fell quickly into the trap of “what art will sell best” kind of mentality which is for some, like myself – stifling. If you are not a commercial artist the art world seems closed to you if your art is not comparable to those in home department stores; people want generic art for generic places, things which look pretty and decorative. There is nothing wrong with this and it has a rightful place, however I am an outsider artist who fell into the commercial trap. So I hid behind flowers, landscapes, cityscapes and beautiful women – if you looked closer you could see my truth, but I was afraid it would be too honest for some so kept it back. The need to get uglier, darker even was a personal struggle for me as an artist – as my truth was not all flowers and beauty, it was much murkier than this and I knew it had a place but I couldn’t trust this until becoming a member of Link Your Life as my rawness had not come out yet – until opening up within my writing. The two are entwined – I paint with words; I create dialogue with visual art.

As a survivor:

The most significant consequence to being a member of Link Your Life is that it prompted me to do something which needed to be done for such a long time, it opened me up in a way that allowed me to vocalise my story of being a victim of child sexual abuse, rape and sexual violence and had survived this trauma. Before Link You Life I was not even able to write the word RAPE, it was so ugly and triggering that I was trapped in my communication and recovery. There are still words I can not articulate about my abuse and rape however the weight of shame is less when discussing this. Shawna and Shareen have both allowed me to feel safe in sharing as they have also done, sometimes you need to be guided by those who have suffered as you have, as they truly understand the impact this kind of sharing has on yourself and others. Even though I am in the grips of illness due to these things which have happened to me, the relief to be surrounded by such brave survivors who allow for such truth sharing is the most rewarding of gifts that Link You Life has given me, I am forever grateful for this.


 

This post is in honour of Shareen and her birthday xxx

shareen-birthday by charlotte farhan

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