It always makes me giggle when people look at my books and comment,
“She looks a bit like you!”
Yup. There’s a reason for that 😉
When I happened upon the idea of creating Katie-Jane last year, I found myself delighted for oh so many reasons … but the most poignant – and relevant – is the story of who she is.
Katie-Jane – the voice of my childhood.
Once upon a time, I was the little girl who couldn’t speak outside of my own home. Unknown to everyone else, I was also the little girl who had so much to say.
I had so many words. They were all lined up inside of me – all desperate to be heard. On the outside, people were desperate to hear some of those words escape my mouth too. They weren’t so worried which ones – only that I might speak something.
Inside of me, I had something to say. As a small child I wasn’t in any position to know how to say it. I didn’t know, back then, that it didn’t matter. I didn’t know that things don’t usually come out perfectly first time, and that for most people it takes time, practice and a whole lot of failed attempts before something truly works. I didn’t know that this experimentation was the experience that I needed, and I didn’t know that that is what, in many ways, childhood is about.
Trial and error. I didn’t want either. I just felt so greatly that I wanted to do things properly. I didn’t like mucking up or making a fool of myself. I didn’t like people laughing at my expense. I was scared to try – in case I failed. And this really didn’t get me very far.
Inside of me, I had thoughts and feelings flying about like crazy monkeys. They were all desperate to be expressed.
On the outside I was serious and withdrawn. I was terrified of letting go and just being me. I was terrified of what people might think.
Every experience is valuable
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if my road had been different. Maybe something different as a young child may have prevented my selective mutism. Maybe I might have been more inclined to experiment and to make mistakes. Maybe I might have enjoyed laughing at myself a little more. Maybe I might have found success at an early age. Maybe many things … we will never know.
As a child, I didn’t allow myself to experience certain things – but as a result, I got to experience the long-term effects of this. The dis-satisfaction and the sense of un-fulfillment that comes from an existence that holds on to fear. It is not a route that I would recommend, but my current outlook is wide and allowing – and I find myself hugely grateful to all the insights I have gained from my past.
I look back and I see the struggles that I faced as a young child. The inward pressures and the outward pressures – the confusion that arose as the two collided. There I huddled, skirting the edges of the storm. I tried to escape – to run from the storm, but it was always there, following me, taunting me. In the middle, always the opportunity. The eye of the storm. Peaceful and silent as thoughts, emotions, expectations, fears, hopes and unfulfilled dreams crashed all around it. I didn’t realise there was a centre.
For many years I struggled on the outskirts of the storm. I experienced its fears and its distress. I experienced its pandemonium, as I ran this way and that way in desperation. Desperation to get through without experiencing its wrath. The storm played out in many ways – and I lived them all – hoping, dreaming, wanting and wishing to be free of it. Always, the opportunity was there to step into the centre. To escape from the turmoil. And to rise above the stress and the chaos that has somehow played its part in creating the person I am today.
The value that I have gained by living my life in the way I have chosen is insight through my direct experience. The clarity that has arisen with my gradual surrender, acceptance – and eventual Love for the storm that once was means that today I get to connect with my words. I get to experiment with them now – and I know that, through trial and error – but mostly connection – I am now able to create the life experience I once craved.
Who is Katie-Jane?
Katie-Jane embodies this reconnection to my words – and she makes it possible to share this embodiment in a way that not only honours my own childhood, but that has the capacity to touch the lives of others. This is who Katie-Jane is. A little girl; a character; who was born out of my struggles and who expresses my subsequent insights. She gives hope to any situation because of where she comes from – and it is my hope that because of Katie-Jane, some children will need to struggle less as they are able to learn life’s lessons more quickly.