Interview with Niamh Ni Bhroin
Irish Author Niamh Ni Bhroin's searing memoir, The Singing Warrior, was recently released to wide acclaim (book review here). Having lived in the Netherlands for more than two decades, she now resides in The Hague with her daughter and canine companion Mozart.
When people ask, how do you describe your book?
It is a story of my life and trying to make sense of the jigsaw puzzle pieces that were missing. I was tired of the pain and heartache and wanted to release my past. I had to go back to my past to move forward and embrace the future. My loss of identity was wound into abuse, control and total lack of empowerment.
Why did you write this book?
I wrote the book because I needed to heal, and my writing was the process in doing so. I wrote the book not only for myself but for anybody who could see that there is always hope despite dreadful setbacks.
You grew up in Ireland, lived in Greece and have now been in the Netherlands for almost 25 years. At this point, do you consider yourself Dutch?
I am not Dutch born or bred but I have embraced the Dutch culture and speak the language fluently. I feel that I am almost too long in the country to be considered an "expat." I feel my identity is limitless. It goes beyond the boundaries of the country, culture or language. I am Niamh, born to Irish parents, global nomad.
Throughout The Singing Warrior are the themes of suffering and abuse as well as prevailing over your past.
Having been abused at a very early age, I felt I was never given the tools to deal with all of the pain. However, I was given the gift of song and that got me through a lot. I battled through the adversity through my song and poetry. I did not realise at the time that I was actually quite a strong warrior to do so and when I eventually found my true self again, it all made sense.
You write of attending a shamanic workshop to help address your repressed memories.
My sister-in-law was a shamanic practitioner for years but I never felt the need to partake. However, at a certain point, when I saw the wonderful results of clients that had participated in such a workshop, I decided to give it a go. At that stage I was sick of myself and my life, and I wanted to be the mother my daughter deserves. I can tell you that my soul was retrieved in that workshop.
In the book, you write of finding your voice again, both literally (your singing) and figuratively (speaking up and writing). Would you please elaborate?
I had stopped singing over the years because I had lost the spirit of my voice. Writing had been my release, but along the way I also had stopped writing. When I found my "healing" song during the weekend of the Shamanic workshop, it automatically unblocked all my fears and I moved forward with my singing and my writing. It was a magical moment.
What comes to mind when you look back at all that has taken place since you put pen to paper?
I cannot believe it. I am bowled over. I thought I was on the scrap-heap a year ago and I have been surrounded by wonderful support. I have to mention my publisher, Jo Parfitt, who was not only a fantastic inspiration but became a wonderful friend. It was a fantastic experience to acknowledge my life on paper. I am dumbfounded but so proud of the outcome. I ave released a CD of songs written as result of the book. I know now that belief in yourself moves mountains.
What's next for Niamh?
Oh, so much! I am now putting together a one-woman show, "The Singing Warrior Live." I am working with a producer, Michel Voituron, and it is going well. We hope to perform in theaters throughout the Netherlands, possibly as early as this summer. I have also made an audio tape of the book that should be available soon. I continue to offer classes that combine singing, writing and visualization exercises to help unblock people. I am also working on some sort of open podium for teenagers, as I feel this is a very important age group. Who knows where it will take me? But I have no fear and am living, loving and laughing daily!