Matthew Brincat

(writer & photographer)

Creative, unique, emotive storytelling.

“The death of a story became the greatest life-lessons of all.

From the self-destruction of heroin addiction to the art of living.”

I am the elder son, born in a working family in the 1980s. My father used to work over 14 hours a day, to sustain my brother’s, and my private education. Both treated equally, the only presented difference was in the color of our clothes, and toys. I can say that my parents always created a loving home environment. I was trusted with the house key, and my brother’s well-being, at an early age. I liked the responsibility, it presented something to rise up to.

While growing through my childhood, I started experiencing moments were I was overwhelmed with feelings, and visions of things that were not apparent. Sudden surges of fear, and faces popping out from the darkness, was what I would go through to get in my bed for sleep. There were unclear nights, where I would feel more than one presence surrounding my bed. Hence why I would pull up the sheets up to my head. When among people, I saw nothing that connected me with them. Their behavior, their need to talk, and the alienation that ruled over them, just took me further away from getting to actually connect with someone. I would look at my family, and ask myself, if they are truly my family. I saw nothing, apart from physical attributes, which made me believe that I am their son, or sibling. I felt alone, trapped in a world of non-understanding. 

I didn’t talk much, just the necessary to go by. The times that I felt there is something worth expressing, I would be unable to find the proper words. Nothing in my known vocabulary, could describe what I felt inside of me. It wasn’t pain, or sadness, it was the vast and ageless wind, that I felt breezing around beneath my skin. At about the age of 12, more fervent questions started to come, like “who is the one moving me?”, “which is the one seeing?”, and so they went; questions to which there was no answer, and no one to talk with about. Meanwhile, I tried to fit in, as best as I could, at school, in friend groups, family, and society, creating more turmoil within me. Was blending in, whereas I couldn’t feel to belong.

At age 17 I left school to pursue a career in IT. It was the year 1997, where computers still operated with Windows 95, and the time when each family started to focus on having a personal computer at home. First it was the Television, now it was the time for Personal Computers. MP3s were still a thought. After 4 years in IT, I started abusing from heroine. It was then, that I decided to find a job without any kind of responsibility. So I found myself a job in a textile factory, where I worked with shift for more than 12 years. A job that sustained my drug habit, and the life style that came with it. During this period, I had a few  heroine overdose, two of which landed me in lockup for 24 hours, and another one where I ended up to be hospitalised because my heartbeat got really faint, to the point of stopping. During this last episode, I was nearly gone. I was already experiencing life after the physical death; the All, without the Me. But thanks to the friend that I had used with on that day, the nurses had managed to bring me back. If before I was chasing the first high, now I was chasing the physical death itself. 

In the late months of 2012, I switched from injecting heroine, to abusing from cocaine intravenously. My habit was spinning out of control, I was becoming unmanageable, wanting more, and needing more. I had to inject myself in order to start the day, to eat, to work, to sleep, and to continue sleeping; and still, nothing of these things was being managed properly. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I became dis-functional. In June 2013, my drug habit landed me in jail. It was the first time in the whole 33 years that I lived, where I felt completely free. Nothing remained, of the fabricated life, of the lie that I was living. I was finally naked in front of an incredulous world. Without home, and a broken relationship with my family, I was arrested, and sent to prison, for the law to take its overdue course. Freedom was finally being savoured by my weary Heart.

For the first night that I stayed at Kordin Correctional Facility, I was placed in a cell with some other 24 foreigners, mostly from North-Africa. No tears were shed, and I went into sleep, for the first time in years, with a smile on my face; the adventure of a life-time has met its midpoint. This was Indiana Jones coming out from the Temple of Doom. This was, were the child, becomes Man, baptised by Life itself. The next day, after the medical examination, I was sent to the Forensic Section in Mount Carmel. Here, is where I had to face my lies, confessing behind a perspex window, all my deeds, to my torn down family; a crying father, who had suddenly aged beyond my understanding, a broken down mountain of a brother, and a mother that was so devastated, that couldn’t get out of home. Slowly, and gradually, we started sewing anew the relationship between us. I rejected the suggestion of my lawyer to apply for bail, reason was, that I wanted to use the time in prison to focus on myself. I started lowering my methadone dose on my own, and do some physical exercises. I asked my parents to bring me some books to read, and my journal. Although I was experiencing withdrawals, I liked the clarity that came thanks to the absence of drugs in my system. Living in confined spaces, with murderers, drug dealers, prostitutes, my pride was shattered. I had finally admitted to myself, that I am no different, from these people. I too wanted a fix, and I did all that I could, to get it. I started observing the behavior of others, a practice that helped to reveal more information about myself. I was being self-taught, by simply observing.

After 3 months of jail, I entered Rehabilitation in October 2013. It was the time to start facing my past, in order to forgive and move on. I had plenty of time to write, draw, and meditate. It was here that Spirituality came into my life. It was here, that I had a deep recognition, of why I did, what I did. After 4 months of Rehabilitation, I started working in a back-office accounting firm. I didn’t have any experience, except that I knew how to use well a computer. The management there was willing to teach me, and I was ready to learn. I am a fast learner, which can be a gift as much as a curse with the name of arrogance. I kept going to NA meetings, which were my support system. Exactly a year after rehabilitation, a name was voiced to me; Ayahuasca. I didn’t know anything about it, only few things that I heard from people that did it. I decided to go for it. There was no fear, I just wanted to go through the blockages that I didn’t manage to overcome in rehab. I won’t talk about the experience, since it might find its place in my second book.

After a successful year with this accounting firm, I followed my heart, and left my job to go live in Gozo. I was without a job for 3 months, something that I had never experienced. In those 3 months living for the first time alone at the age of 34, and mostly broke, I came to know what it means to be insecure; a period which taught me great lessons. Since then I worked for a few months in a factory, and now I am an Administrator in a courier company. Since then, wondrous things have happened. Between working, travelling, Ayahuasca retreats, new friends, new connections, and an ever growing thirst for Life, in March 2017 I managed to self-publish a book, thanks to the financial support of my brother; RANDOM “the choices we have forgotten about”. It contains poetry, journal entries, and self-help manuals, and philosophical texts, extracted from my journals of the previous 3 years. The writings were not altered or edited, they were left at their original state as hand-written the first time.

Having published, and marketed the book, on my own, was a beautiful process. More knowledge about my own capabilities surfaced, making me believe more and more in myself; something which I always lacked. Since its official launch, RANDOM has sold over 200 copies in 2 months, a seldom occurrence in the poetry scene, especially here in Malta. When my book and story, were mentioned on social media, my life changed radically; I know had to learn how to cope being among, and in front of people. I was invited on TV programs by renowned local journalists and TV presenters, featured twice on the infamous web-magazine Lovin Malta, gave presentations at the MCast Institute for Creative Arts, at a school for trouble children, and another one with councillors from Agenzija Appogg. I even had the privilege, to met Her Excellency the President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca for coffee, at San Anton Palace. In total, RANDOM has sold 400 copies within a year, and shipped to countries as Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and Slovakia. When the second edition was sold out, I decided to not do another print-run, although it was still on demand. The main reason was, that I wanted to focus my energy on the creation of new texts, instead of selling, and marketing the book. Also, I couldn’t see myself anymore in RANDOM. Yes the title and the words still resonated deeply within me, continuing the appraisal of change, but I had to move on from the identity, that it held.  

All of this, looks lifetimes away. This year, I decided to give photography a go, and in these last few months as a DSLR owner, I saw my creative and personal expression, spiraling beyond any imagination. The more it goes, the more It shows me to trust more Life, and my intuition. Now I am here, on my desk, looking at the view filled with valleys, hills, and sea, adorned with a cloudy sky; enjoying the knowingness of a promising future. Let’s make that step.