I wanted to write a little something in response to the overwhelming reaction I’ve had to my memoir, Daffodils, which came out in audiobook three weeks ago. When I sat here at the keyboard, during the first lockdown – which many will agree was the most intense, being a new experience – and started to write my own story, I never thought I’d dare share it with the world. It was originally intended as a cathartic sort of therapy. As a way of unearthing memories and facing the things that have haunted me since I was small. Then, as I came to the end, I wondered how many other people might have experienced what I had, and how helpful it might be if I bared my life, utilised my platform, and used my voice. It was a long journey to audiobook – and I still hope it will end up in paperback, so watch this space – but here we are, and what a reaction. Let me tell you a little about it.
In the last three weeks I’ve been inundated with private messages, emails, gifts, cards, and even handwritten letters from readers, reviewers, relatives, and friends. I’ve been sent daffodil keyrings, bags, scarves, prints, doormats, and glasses. I’ve had people send pictures every time they spot a beautiful group of daffodils. These gifts have made my day – I’m a big kid at heart, you see – but it is the words people have shared with me that mean the most.
I’ve received messages from women who also have tricky relationships with their mothers, who either shared their experience of ending things/coping, or said that they were glad someone was actually talking about such a taboo as – for want of a better word – divorcing your own mother. I had the loveliest letter from a lady who knew the trauma of childhood abuse and having a narcissist mother, who has now made her life about helping others. I got a message from a woman who had just adopted a little girl who displayed many of the traits I had as a child in the memoir, who said she would now know how to help her daughter as a result. I’ve read tweets where listeners to the audiobook shared their tears, their difficulty, their support of the memoir. It’s been uplifting, empowering … and yet also surprisingly exhausting.
The exhaustion is because of the many emotions all at once. There has obviously been joy at touching people like this, at starting conversations that I really wanted to. There has been pride in the praise of my memoir, and it’s apparent bravery (I don’t always feel like that). There has been pain in hearing how so many others have gone through similar difficulties; I tend to take on such sorrow, very deeply, so have had to be good to myself. And there has been, still, even after all of it, sadness that I even had such a story to share, and that my family has been through so much. But, despite all that, you’ll still get the smiley me, because laughter has been as much of a therapy over the years as writing has. Thank you to every single person who sent a gift or a word or a collection of them in the form of a review. I’ll never forget any of it.