We had our first workshop! Thank you Fighting Words!


Last week we had our first workshop. It was facilitated by our neighbours Fighting Words.  Before last week I knew their name and that was about it really. There was an element of surprise before the workshop started. I just didn’t know what to expect. What I discovered was a warm, welcoming environment with kind and friendly staff and volunteers.  The Fighting Words style of workshop facilitation created a ‘space’ for the impossible to happen, freedom in the mind. For me it was an absence of fear or to an extent a control of my fear. I felt the fear rise up as I spoke and engaged in the process and that little something inside jumped forth and said ‘face that fear’. Step out. Wow! I did and it did. A release came over me that I am still curious to understand more. I am craving the ‘space’. I can honestly say I felt ten feet tall upon leaving the workshop. The space to explore the mind, the creative mind, it struck me like a drug. I was very moved afterwards, raw emotional energy drained from my body.

This experience got me thinking about the importance of creative spaces like fighting words within the community. It got me thinking about my own journey and the impact spaces like fighting words can have in liberating the mind. These spaces are the key to unlocking the cell that is the mind, the prison. The harsh realities of life hit me most when I was at my lowest point, when I was in the prison of the mind.


The Prison of the Mind

Reality is so brutal when you are in that position in life. You’re always looking for something. When you find something, that’s even a little bit positive, in your mind, you just run with it. You find a tenner but you turn it into a million quid in your mind. So you start to imagine all the things you’re going to do with your million quid. And your life is perfect. Then reality hits again. And you’re in some doorway – I’ll have another drink. That’s constant. It’s a washing machine effect – it doesn’t slow down. It’s a cycle but it is not rational – you can’t hold on to one positive and work with it or one negative and address it. At that point the mind is everywhere and nowhere. There is no focus. There is no drive to support the thought. I would say ‘I’m getting clean’ and for two hours I was getting clean – and after that I said, fuck this. It becomes too hard when everything else starts to come in on top. I’m going clean but hold on I can’t even get the bus, the sole of my shoe is hanging off, people think I’m dirt, I haven’t had a shave in three days. How can anyone operate in that cycle – the prison is in your mind. That’s the extreme low point in life. That’s when you see the shell, the crush of the person – the spirit – they have shrunk – I actually see it as a shrinking of the person inside. You are sentenced.


From Internal to External 

It is expression – whatever form – we are all still individuals so that expression isn’t the same for everyone. That’s why the space has to be organic – to allow for individuality. It has to be experimental. We as people are naturally experimental in thought. When we think about stuff a lot of it is experimental – we don’t know where a train of thought is going when it starts. People let these thoughts overwhelm them. Why not just fling them out there on a piece of paper. You need to have a freedom to do that. When you have the freedom to express yourself something happens within you. Once that happens there is room for more. That’s the space; the space has to allow for more space. A lot of preserved ‘spaces’ out there, like services in Ireland, don’t allow for mistakes. ‘How dare you’ ‘I’m going to judge you’ ‘you are this and that’. The people within the space who are facilitating have to have that understanding and compassion. I don’t see it enough.


Boxes are dangerous. It’s a space not a box. No doors. You can go from A to B to C and go back to A. You can succeed and fail – its fluid. It has to be. It’s hard to put into words. It’s organic. The space isn’t out on the streets. The space is creative its somewhere to express yourself. The fact the there is a space means somebody gives a shit to create it – that’s the whole idea. It is somewhere where you can learn to understand and love yourself. If you don’t love yourself you can’t love anyone else. You can try please others around you but if you’re not comfortable in your own understanding you’ll never understand others. That’s what leads people into isolation.

Spaces like Fighting Words are all about some form of expression, any form; it could be writing, tending to a garden, painting, singing or running a kitchen. When people are in an environment where they can take some risks and not worry about it they are free. Whatever it is they pick up and find as a way of expressing themselves is hugely positive. It doesn’t happen on the streets – you end up doing nothing and without that expression you’re stuck in your own head, in that prison.

When people find these spaces they can think beyond themselves. That’s the big change. It’s the opposite of the crushed shell. I see people who are bigger in life now. People are bigger than they ever where internally. They can handle themselves now. They can be challenged and challenge others. Previously they wouldn’t have had the strength for that. It can be like a ripple effect, it’s much bigger than anything. Those who find the space can influence many, many others. That’s the real power. Now we are creating positive cycles.

It was a very strange and liberating experience in Fighting Words. I thank all at Fighting Words for providing the space and platform for me and so many others. A space which in to explore that fear element within me that has inhabited my own personal growth. After one evening I’m bitten by the bug. The understanding of myself that happened through the direction of your workshop leaves me at a wonder. I strongly recommend that anyone in the locality use this amazing chance for a life changing experience. Real FIGHTING WORDS!

Thanking all the team at Fighting Words

Paul Uzell