Bolade Ogunfuye: Writing myself back together [NEW VOICES]

by Bolade Ogunfuye

The best way I’ve found to fight the darker part of myself and hope to win is through writing. Every time I take on a new challenge, or turn the leaf to face a new chapter of my life my darker half takes over immediately.

The darker alter ego would wait for me to feel comfy then; “fool!” it would yell at me as I settled into my new job; “How the hell do you think you’re ready for this? You can’t handle it! You’ll regret it! You chose wrong!” the barrage would go on and on. Really, what it translated to was this: I hated not knowing the future, not being able to chart the edges of my life and promise myself it would all be okay.

My writing goes way back to my formative years; I’ve been putting down my thoughts as a coping mechanism since I was 11 or 12 years old. I began with scatter-brained thoughts and banks of words, barely making sense and not even bothering with cohesion. That would come much later. After many years of false starts and false dawns, I graduated to poetry, essays and then some fiction. I even once wrote parts of an 8-act play. That was sometime around the turn of the millennia, I think.

I got my first gig as a low-level staff writer at a now-defunct sometimes-lifestyle, sometimes-music, sometimes pop-culture magazine. That offered a path away from the psychosis closing in, and gave me a legit channel to push these thoughts through. I tried my best to drown out the voices with the writing; conjuring up dense analyses of Nigeria entertainment, pop culture, music, lifestyle and the arts. In part, the gig needed me less than I needed it; the job allowed me a certain catharsis, a means to get the monkey off my back, and, yea, get paid to do it. Win-win

Years later, several months into a full-on extended sabbatical I was freelancing and truly depressed. I found myself waiting for part-time writing gigs, indulging in adventurous soirees and a fugue of emotional unavailability and cerebral detachment. I had nothing concrete to point at to prove that I was doing OK; I was claustrophobic and tense, all of a sudden scared of living and blindingly angry at the world but mostly at myself that nobody seemed to be able to see me.

I found writing again; starting with little snatches and words at first, eventually swelling to a respectable trickle and it helped me see past the haze and I began to learn again of the joy of writing. I completed my first real short story: a dark ode to stolen kisses and unrequited affection in the week following this new me. It didn’t matter to me that the conversation was stilted and sounded terrible, or that the plot line lacked cohesion, or that the entire hack book was horrible – here was something that was 100% mine, that few days prior was just a mass of scattered thoughts. Nobody gave me permission; I just did it, and that power was enough to drag me into a new lease of unbridled, creative productivity. I could, in some small way stop waiting to have something happen to me; I had gone and happened to something. That felt good.

In my more recent years, my alter ego has grown, evolved and mutated; It gorges itself on mistakes I make at work and feasts on fights with the people I love, anything that makes it look like the happiness I’ve harvested could all of a sudden disappear. My good, logical self tries to wrestle the twisted and bloated version or at least make it listen to reason: You will not be fired, she will not leave you, that issue had nothing to do with you so please slow your heartbeat.

More often than not, these arguments don’t work, but somehow writing dims the roar.

Bolade is a writer and multi-media development professional. He began as a writer, and has since expanded his repertoire to include media content design and development, brand strategy, new media, advertising and PR with a career spanning the last decade. He is addicted to caffeine, sartorial excellence, sarcasm, true crime and media content of the highest quality; and is very fluent in double-speak.

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