When the email from Arts Council England announcing the results of my Developing Your Creative Practice funding application first appeared on my phone, I felt sick. On the edge of tears. A visceral, Instant emotional reaction as weeks of anxiety exploded.
The email said I needed to log on to the portal to find out their response to my application. I didn’t want to. I wanted to cry. I had already convinced myself it was going to be a “no” but I wanted to hold on to that tiny sliver of hope for just a fraction of a moment longer. To hold on tight to a dream, that was already beginning to melt away.
I had to log in to read my decision letter, prolonging the suspense. There wasn’t a link in the email. So, shaky-handed, I navigated to the portal link in my bookmarks. I used to think that written dialogue where someone says, “Oh God, oh God, oh God” sounded so inauthentic. I felt a bit daft doing just that in my head as I searched the portal to find the right place. The link that would take me to the letter. Tears. Shaking. Absolute devastation as I read as far as was needed into the jumble of words I did not want to see. Far enough to find myself rejected and excluded, again.
Even though I half expected it, I had clung to hope. I jump and the universe usually helps me build my wings on the way down before I shatter into pieces. Doesn’t fortune favour the brave? Stupid optimism. That I will ever get out of the gutter I was born into… if I try hard enough, right? Work hard enough? Don’t let go of my dreams? Not letting go means I’ll now have to work on my project alone. No mentoring. No support. No time of my own to do the work. No budget. Nothing.
Even trying not to feel, the tears still fall. I can’t stop them. I try to stubbornly defy my daft emotional response. It’s not going to help, is it! My humanity won’t let me just be numb. Grief to anger in 3, 2, 1…
And, I poured a glass of leftover, two-day-old wine. Stroked the cracks in my tabletop, through the wine and teary haze. I stopped following the Arts Council on social media. Erased them from my life like a cheating ex-partner.
I don’t want to see everyone’s self-celebrations, congrats and commiserations. Selfish? Maybe, but I feel gutted enough already. I don’t want to feel my want, my poverty, my isolation, devastation, my lack of, rubbed into my eyes every time I log in. Call it selfish. call it self-care. Either or. Whatever. I have to go it alone. Again. I am at a disadvantage. Again. I have to fight for what everyone else seems to take for granted. Again.
The one person I would have shared my frustration with, who I could trust to hear me without judgement, is the one person who isn’t here anymore. The one person I was intending, as a form of therapy for myself and others, to write my story for. To work through the grief, the loss, the guilt and the pain. The irony is not lost on me.
I need to tell this story, and I will tell it. It’s just another battle scar, another lesson in not trusting in anyone but myself. But, anyone who isn’t born with a silver spoon embedded already knows that all too well already. Yes, I was stupid to even hope for any support. Yes, it does not happen for people like me. I won’t make the same mistake again.
Onwards and upwards. I will be up tomorrow morning, at 7 am sharp and I will begin ahead of schedule. I will Little Red Hen the **** out of this project. I will not let being excluded by another institution for the privileged (I should have had the sense by now to have expected as much) prevent me from expressing myself artistically.
Well, writing, as always, has helped tame the fire. Although it has taken most of the afternoon. Now I have a clear (ish) head for the Herculean task ahead of me.