Tell us about yourself and your writing
I am a writing coach and author, my debut novel, Waiting for the Winds to Change, comes out in February 2022.
It was after two kids, two semi-recoveries from post-natal depression, careers set up and unceremoniously ended, one failed marriage, and a second marriage that alternately thrives and stutters, that I felt compelled to write novels about motherhood and relationships.
Motherhood – its all-encompassing nature – is where I’ve struggled to maintain my sense of self with equanimity. Years later I would find out why, but that wasn’t until I was in my 40s.
In the Spring of 2020, I was furloughed. And the balance of my life tipped again as I went from working mum to 1950s housewife overnight. All my feelings about a woman’s place being in the home, losing my identity after becoming a mother, having no space to “be”, collided. The stories I’d been stewing over for years had found an outlet.
Less than a year later I’d realised a lifelong ambition to be an author.
Finding Balance Through Self-Expression
I’m two people, two distinct halves of a whole. I’m either in happy, quiet solitude: writing, reading, drawing. Or, I’m dancing or teaching dance. Alone-time is where I re-charge. The dance studio is where I come alive. They’re two sides of the same coin: self-expression.
It’s no wonder then, that I’ve never fitted in. I’m two different people who need two different environments to thrive. But both aspects fill my creative cup. If one is stifled, I become depressed, if one is overflowing, I get overwhelmed. Balance is everything with me.
In 2021, the year that was meant to bring hope and recovery from the pandemic, just after turning 42, I was diagnosed as autistic and ADHD.
It was devastating and I went into mourning for many months. I didn’t want to accept this about myself and felt sad for the girl and woman I could have/should have been, if I’d only known earlier. But it answered so many unanswerable questions I had about myself.
After a lifetime of searching, trying to work out why I didn’t fit into the world, baulking against conformity and societal norms, trying desperately to do things the “right” way, I had an answer. I wasn’t mental. Or difficult, unreliable, selfish, stupid, or unfocused. I am neuro-divergent, and my innate skill is creating.
Finally getting this understanding about myself has been life-changing. It’s transformed my relationships with the people closest to me and it has enabled me to focus on the activities that give me energy. I still get burnt out, because I’m still struggling to manage my moments of hyper-focus. I still have meltdowns when I am overwhelmed, but I am learning to accept this aspect of myself and manage it better.
Women are at particular risk to the pressures of fulfilling many ‘roles’ in society – wife, mother, neurotypical, conforming, career-seeker, housekeeper. When people’s needs are ignored by society, their families, the strictures we live in, the results can be catastrophic.
When self-expression is curtailed, stifled or removed completely, our very essence is threatened. We lose our sense of self, our identity, our very humanity. Depression, self-harm, coercive control, abuse, mental health decline and at the very extremes, suicide, are the result.
I am finally reaching a point in my life where I know who I am. I recognise myself. And with that recognition and understanding, I accept myself, and am content.
This topic of self-expression and living authentically is what I explore in all of my novels. It’s a never ending journey of discovery and a source of fascinating topics that need more air time. In a small way, I am trying to open up these conversations to more of us, so we can stop denying ourselves access to the things that make us content.
How can others connect with you?
I love hanging out on Instagram: https://instagram.com/byclairebeesley
Authors can find my coaching service at https://www.nurtureyournovel.co.uk
I also have an authors website where you can sign up to my author newsletter: https://www.byclairebeesley.co.uk