You cannot heal the world until you heal yourself.
– Katrina Mayer
The first step – the very first step – toward healing old wounds is to acknowledge that you have them. If I don’t know or recognize that I have old wounds or if I do know and chose to ignore them, then I am allowing them to control my every thought, action and relationship. And that in itself is a scary thought.
I was in my mid 20’s before I truly recognized I had been wounded so badly. As a child I buried both good and bad memories deep in my subconscious, never realizing how I was shaping my future. When I took a creative writing course in college I wrote the most horrific stories – rape, murder, bloodshed, violence – and I didn’t know where those images came from. I didn’t read violent books or watch violent movies or TV. I wasn’t a violent person and didn’t think violent thoughts. Yet vivid images of bloodshed crept up from my subconscious into the written word. (Those stories are posted on this blog – unedited or changes since I wrote them. Compare them to the stories I write now after decades of healing on my Orange Marmalade Press blog.)
Those stories disturbed me greatly and I talked to my professor about them. He told me that all artists and writers have wounded souls and I shouldn’t worry about where the stories come from because those wounds are what make artists great. That conversation prevented me from seeking help for a long time. I didn’t seek help because I desperately wanted to write and create. I did continue to create but my art took a darker turn, so dark it scared even me and I stopped releasing my pain creatively and instead turned it inward and did some really crazy stuff before I finally began the true healing journey.
My point is this – as long as I refused to acknowledge that I needed help – much like addicts – I was not in control of my own life.
But through God’s Grace I found my way toward healing and toward me.
So – the first step – the very first step – toward healing is saying – “something is wrong and I need help.”
Simple words for a momentous occasion – an occasion that will make a difference in your life and in the lives of everyone you encounter from now until the moment of your death.
To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.
I don’t know who wrote those words but they are so true. For most of my life the biggest part of my reluctance to create art or once created keep it hidden was that it (and I) was “wrong” or unacceptable or undefinable or not worthy of notice. It didn’t help when I would show my art – in whatever form it took at the time – to other people and they would say something along the lines of “I don’t get it.” Of course, I have said that about art as well.
What does the statement, “I don’t get it” really mean anyway? Is it necessary for me or anyone else to “get it?” Isn’t the act of creating the art worth something whether it is meaningless to me or not? I don’t know. That really isn’t my focus here because ultimately, art is subjective, or to quote an age old adage, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
My focus rather, is on how my fear of being wrong stifled my creative drive. I have always created art and when I feared it was unacceptable, I created acceptable art. Sometimes I feel as if I wasted half of my life being afraid. It is easy for me to feel that way because of my morose brain.
What helped me get beyond that fear were two things: God and age. As I’ve grown older I slowly began not to care about what other people thought, especially regarding my art. The old dragon still hangs about but I remind myself each day to ignore his snorts of derision and contemptuous laughter. I remind myself that God created me as I am – creative streak and all – and it is my responsibility as a child of God to use the gift He gave me.
Sometimes my work is plain and simple; other times it is a mystery even to me. But those mysterious works of art are expressions of my inner self and I need to honor that self, not ignore her. So, if I stand at my work table or in a museum or gallery and look at the art before me and wonder, “I don’t get it” – maybe I’m not supposed to. Maybe the work is understood only by the subconscious me.
Regardless, I need not fear creating art of any kind. It matters not what the world thinks. It only matters what I think and what I think God thinks (after all, who really knows the mind of God?).