Behind the Mask – Helplessness?

Posted by on Nov 25, 2015 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Such a powerful session last Friday at Behind the Mask – both with the women in the morning at Calderdale Women’s Centre, and the high school girls from Halifax Academy in the afternoon. Sometimes you don’t know where it comes from – the power of emotion, but most importantly their ability to express it! Everyone of those women and girls wrote a piece of poetry, so heartfelt and profound it caused the rest of the group to sit back and draw breath.

This poem, was the prompt that the groups responded to – ‘Helplessness’ – such a short poem it allows the reader to connect and understand and know!! to recognise their feelings too!


Winds are calling me,
Knocking at my door.

How can I open the door?

My hands are tied
Behind my back.

-tr. Ravi Kopra

My understanding is that if I had brought this poem in at the beginning of the project, the women and girls would have understood it, identified with it but not have had the words to express their own responses. They wouldn’t have believed that their voices were valid, that they had the ‘writing’ skills to express their emotions, that they couldn’t quite trust me or the rest of the group to lay themselves bare. When the confidence in themselves has been raised, when there is no risk of failing, that their thoughts are valid and most importantly the trust in the room is strong – ‘Truth’ is written, however painful … and understanding of oneself grows stronger – and understanding that although our experiences are our own, there are similarities and others feel the same, there is a comfort in that!

There is also an understanding that they are all moving forward, that they are all making progress in this journey – not just themselves but every woman and girl around them. I believe this is where the power of group work like this lies. They are recognising positive steps forward in the others and also in themselves— for me as the facilitator it was quite a session, and a reaffirming that this way of working can and does have a huge impact on peoples lives – Sharon, verd de gris

Helplessness by Claire

In my own head
In my own skin
Everything I try seems wrong
Whichever way I turn
There is a wall getting higher
My arms are not strong enough
To knock them down

In a place that is dark
I can’t see which way to go
Or what is coming next
In my own head
in my own skin

Reading some of these (they were all painful to hear or read), would make you think we all left the room, down, low, beaten! But not so – The courage in the room and Defiance was palpable and the joy of trusting each other and sharing moments like this brings such a release!

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A photo from Friday’s sessions

“I wish I knew how it would feel to be free” – at this moment they did!!!

Helplessness by Yasmin

Men around you
Pushing you down
Chipping away
bits of your confidence
useless, useless…..
But we have resources
to fight you
Slowly Slowly we will get there…..
We will unlock the cage – and our
souls will sing free.

Helplessness by Razia

Feeling down nowhere to turn
no one to help me
feel everyone is watching me
their eyes are piercing into me.
Feel weak, no energy to go on
Who will help me to get out
of this deep hole that I’ve fallen into.
No Sleep!
No appetite!
No pleasure to care for myself!