Tracey Emin: My Life In A Column

'Apparently that's why I drink, to fend off all the emotions. Then, like a volcano, I erupt'
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The Independent Online

I have just left my third session of hypnotherapy. Today was good, almost enchanting. I phased out the vision of a beautiful glade, the deepest valley and lush green grass. My eye view was at ground level, looking through the long blades of green on to dandelions blowing in the warm breeze. Beautiful sweet-looking trees perched either side of the tumbling glade. And the sun, the rays of the sun, so light, dancing over every kind of green that ever existed within nature. A living heaven, peace, calm and tranquillity. Everything real, so beautiful and so close, touchable. A constant stream of my mind's eye.

It's all a lot different from yesterday, when I left in floods of tears after cradling a tiny dead baby. Its big, big eyes and strange-shaped head; skinny little limp limbs, covered in blood. His skin red, he looked like a little alien. It was so sad; in fact it's making me start to cry now. Fucking hell, the well of emotion. It's a deep, strange, dark place.

Now I'm sitting in my room. I'm at a detox place somewhere in Australia. Apart from not drinking alcohol, it's very easy for me. The physical part, that is.

No salt, no tea, no coffee, butter, oil or fat, gluten, wheat or sugar, chocolate, drugs or cigarettes. The only hardcore stuff here is the stuff that my mind is going through. My mind has been to hell and back. I haven't drunk for more than two weeks now. Exercising for at least three hours every day. I am officially 1st 5lb overweight. It's amazing you have to go right to the other side of the world for someone to have the courage to say: "Tracey, you are fat."

Apparently I'm a pendulum: fat to thin. When I'm unhappy, I'm too thin, and when I'm unhappy, I'm fat. There have been only the briefest moments in my life when I have been at the correct weight, even as a child. So I have had to sit down and track the good-looking moments and see if they correlate with being happy. Of course, they do, as the fat and the thin fall nicely into place with the depression and sadness. Apparently that's why I drink, to fend off all the emotions. Then, like some fucking great volcano I erupt when it's least expected, spilling my shit and pus and hell on to anything and everyone close to me.

All obvious, but sometimes in life we need to be told – and most importantly, we need to hear.

I so much want to see and experience the world as a beautiful place. I'm tired of the hurt – even walking and thinking hurts me – but I know I'm very lucky. I'm an artist. That means I can bundle all this stuff up, put it on to a trolley, wheel it out of my sodden mind and straight into the gallery of the world. I can turn it all into a real thing. A thing of substance, a thing called art.

After my first abortion, I stopped making art, I stopped wanting to make things, objects, more stuff, to stuff the world up. Everything was too full, too suffocating, nothing could breathe. I believed there was no room, no space for my baby – then how could there be room in my world for my art?

I said I would never paint again until I could forgive myself. I adore tiny things. I love, love. And I love to care. Having an abortion was an extremely difficult thing for me to do. That's not even taking into account my beliefs regarding the soul, but it's something I knew I had to do. The good news is I have started painting again, with a vengeance. If I could just stop drinking, I'd say I'm ready to give birth, but first to myself.

But it's so easy here, here far away from real life. My real life is constant noise, stress, and my lovely wild London; the 24-hour party, no door closed, a friend at every court, the phone just a constant ring. Triumphant, drunk, going wild like a Viking warrior on some great rampage – and it's just a night out on the town! Miaow! Miaow! So drunk the Eritrean mice have to take me home and put me gently through my door; the world of big blur that I will have to say goodbye to. But maybe willpower will be taken over by pleasure. Maybe I will get my hits somewhere else, in a more productive, gentle way. Maybe if I could just be happy, that would be more than enough.

I'm happy right now, sitting at my table doing one of my favourite things in the whole world: I'm listening to New Order, writing my column (this column). Every now and then I look out of the window. The view is a valley surrounded by giant, rolling, sexy hills. Every now and then whole families of kangaroos make their way up the hill and just hang outside my window. Baby ones, Mummies, Daddies, and little ones occasionally pop out of pouches – little paws hanging in the air, eyes big and dark, little faces look up as I call out. The world is sweet, lovely, adorable, surrounded by a most incredible deep beautiful nature. It's all there, right in front of me, and I can see it. But all I can think of now is that I can't wait to get back to Sydney. Can't wait to get back into the studio and start painting like I have never painted before.



Tracey Emin is away and may never come back.

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