So what does it look like when your creative passion is covertly attacked?
Covert abusers are cautious about being obvious with their intent, especially at first. They want to win your trust, or more accurately, lower your defenses. True to their covert nature, when they do start withdrawing their support, it will be indirectly.
They can become miserable, sullen, or pouty when you attempt to tend to your creativity. They may become resentful, slam a door or two or become moody and silent. Their behavior and attitude slowly replaces the joy you feel for your creativity with guilt.
They may sabotage you with cheap shots or irresponsibility. A covert abuser may not come out and forbid you from following your passion, but they can make the journey fraught with more potholes and mishaps than necessary.
They’ll pick a fight the night before or day of your performance, book reading or art show. Or they’ll wait to say something mean or shocking just as you’re about to go up front to sing or speak or engage with the public in some way. It might be a valid topic for discussion — under different circumstances. But the timing is horrible, yet calculated. You are thrown off balance just when you need to be centered and focused the most. That’s the point.
Or perhaps they neglect to do what they say they will, and you find when you walk up to the stage to perform that the PA system hasn’t been completely set up, or just as you grab the microphone you realize the music tracks were left behind, or the display stands for your art pieces were never packed, or parts of the tent for your booth were misplaced. Things you had entrusted to the covert abuser to take care of are not.
And you’re left to scramble at the very last moment to make things work, to remember your lyrics when you’re unnerved, to compose yourself and look like a professional when it appears you’re not, to improvise and make do with what should have been an easy set up or smooth performance.
Or they can suddenly become helpless or just interrupt the hell out of you.
Try writing a book when your partner suddenly becomes the most incompetent person in the world and needs to ask you how to do things they’ve always been able to do before, like changing the baby’s diaper (it’s been peed in), locating various kitchen utensils (when they love to cook), needing to share news trivia or feeling compelled to visit you with the kids, dog, cat and anything else they can drag into your tiny workspace, because they “miss you”.
And you haven’t even been there for an hour yet.
They can drive the creative into distraction with interruptions to rival that of a toddler. They may inundate you with so many interruptions that you begin to feel it’s better to not start at all than to face such maddening frustration.
If you have the good fortune to go to a recording, writing or art studio they may call you before your session is up asking if you’re done yet. Or they may show up unannounced a half hour or so before you’re scheduled to leave, and wait not so patiently for you to finish.
Or you’re at the potter’s wheel, or at the writer’s desk, or the painter’s easel and they walk by and kiss you. That’s sweet, right? So you respond in kind, and they leave. And then they come by again, and then they come by again, and then again. And each time they expect you to stop and give your full appreciative attention to them.
Meanwhile your pottery languishes, your creative flow is thwarted and you lose momentum. Ideas and inspiration slip away, escaping your pen or brush. You get frustrated, annoyed even. You tactfully try to tell them you need to focus, and then BAM, you have a fight on your hands.
How can you be so selfish when they just want to love you? Excuse me for offending you with a kiss.
It takes discipline, time and effort to bring what you envision to fruition. When you follow your passion, you truly are carried on a current of creative energy, that synergy of toil and joy bringing ideas into color, form, shape and sound. Without these ingredients of discipline, time and effort, creative ideas remain ideas.
And when the artistic ideas don’t come together, the collection of songs never get recorded, the landscapes never painted and poetry never written, the pottery never fired, or the book never published, the covert abuser can use that against you. It becomes a perfect opportunity.
They don’t call you fat. They don’t say you’re ugly. That’s not the form this covert abuse takes.
No, they just say you were never really that serious, never that good. They say you never complete anything. They say I told you so. They say you’re involved in too many things, (namely your creative endeavors).
They tell you to get realistic. They say it’s just a hobby or a waste of time. Get a real job or stick with your real job, and spend the rest of your time with them…unless they don’t want you to, like when they have something better to do, which they will always make time for.
POINTS TO PONDER
So what are the things in your life that sabotage your creativity? How do they specifically play out in your life?