Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter


Day 140

What am I doing not being on the radio on a Friday morning? I have done two unscheduled shows already this week, because of technological problems elsewhere, so I decided I’d have to give it a miss, and give Huggy the chance to air the show he’d planned for yesterday. For me to do four shows in a week would have caused me to get even further behind on what I need to do, and the feeling of groundedness I wrote about yesterday would have vanished totally. So, this morning, I’ve been at the desk since 6:30 doing day job work, gave A a lift down to her early shift, have done my back stretches (which I’ve neglected a bit the last two days because of the aforementioned tech problems and the bunching up of time), saw M off to her second day in the city office, had two espressos (so feeling a bit hyper), and have called the skip company to pick up the skip the builders have filled. And now I can really push on once I’ve finished jotting this.

While I was brushing my teeth this morning, another contradiction in me surfaced from nowhere. I remember, vaguely, that my parents put me into a Lutheran Kindergarten when we moved to Germany, a Kindergarten run by Protestant nuns. I was a fidgety child, and one of the clearest memories I have of that time is sitting at a table to supposedly colour something in. I couldn’t sit still, and I just didn’t have the patience to keep my colours inside the lines (a trait I still have now, so those wellbeing colouring-in books are not suited for me), so the nun supervising me slapped me and told me to stop acting up. What I did after that escapes me. The thought came to me because I was thinking about how much I hate being watched when I do things, when I have household tasks to do, or when I’m writing or on the phone and hate is not too extreme a word, really. The contradiction, of course, is that I love performing in public. The biggest buzzes I have had in my life is when I was speaking in front of hundreds of people at my book launch, reading poetry to people, being on BBC radio (audience unseen but still there), and yet I hate to be supervised. Is it because of that nun, because of the way children outside of the norm were automatically punished in the early 1960s? I think that incident probably did scar me for life, just as my father’s emotional bullying of me did, something that I often overcompensate for nowadays (in my early parenthood I think I was turning into my father, something which thankfully hasn’t happened).

I told my therapist on Wednesday that a significant part of me is really enjoying not playing cricket this year. I am sad on the days and times when I know the lads are walking out onto the field, but I have gained so much time by not playing, time I am free to waste or to use to do something I see as productive. The thing is, and this became clear when I started therapy four years ago, is that cricket actually has a significant adverse impact on my mental health because I am forever striving to make the most of what is a small talent, that I start questioning each and every action I take on the field of play, that I worry constantly about underachieving, about letting people down, about not being good enough; the list actually goes on. And those feelings have got worse as the years have gone on, however much I love the game. I don’t find it surprising that many professional cricketers have had such significant mental health problems – and I was meant to be playing for fun.

Gradually, I am finding my place in the world, the place I want to be. Learning to say no, not just to others but to myself. And, most importantly, saying yes to myself, validating myself rather than forever wanting others to validate me. This is progress.




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