Reclaiming your passion when you’ve been battered — and covert abuse is battering — is a journey. There are twists and turns, rocky roads and slippery slopes. The way may be smooth before you hit a steep incline or suddenly drop off at the edge of a precipice. But you have to keep going.
My journey has been erratic. Not a slow but sure unfolding of talents once abandoned and now rediscovered. My experience is more like a pipe that’s been clogged for a long time. The creativity comes in spurts, sudden bursts of inspiration. Sometimes it merely sputters, and then there are times when nothing happens at all. The pipe is utterly dry.
Artists always hit a dry spell. It’s just the natural cycle of things. Ebb and flow, rise and fall kind of thing.
But this is different. It doesn’t feel like those other times in years past when all I needed to do was perhaps give myself a change of scenery, or put a project aside knowing I’ll pick it up again.
In these moments, when that pipe is dry, there’s no sense of “just give it time”. The tide isn’t coming back, and I don’t have the strength to prime the pump. In the absence of productivity there isn’t that sense of frustration or patience. There’s only apathy.
In these moments, I don’t care.
And that scares me the most, because I’ve always cared. I always believed inspiration would come again, and if it was slow in the coming, there was always discipline and commitment. If I was at a lost for ideas, I was never at a loss for my belief in my own creativity. It was only sleeping or recharging or off to some other place to be inspired or patiently waiting for me to come around to it.
Somewhere along the line I began to lose that. When did it happen? At what juncture did I begin to lose my faith in the power of creativity? At what point did it leave me so that now when I pick up the pen, I have to wrestle it from the specter who utters, “What does it matter?”
This is a real struggle for me now. In between or sometimes underlying the beliefs I hold, the idealism and passion I have, is this ghost of apathy and hopelessness. Sometimes it haunts me.
Depression always walked with me throughout my life. That’s par for the course for child abuse victims, but my depression had to share space with my fierce conviction for good and my passion for the creative arts. I have not regained that fire.
And that’s why I can’t compare myself or my creativity to what I was or did in the past. I can’t afford to look at “what I used to do”. I have to stay in this present moment.
It’s one thing to be mindful of my talents, of what I may possess inside, but I have to be careful not to compare where I am now with where I used to be. Because when I keep looking back, I focus on what I’ve lost rather than what I can develop now — perhaps back to what it had been, perhaps not. But then perhaps above and beyond, for all the experience and wisdom gained from having gone through the very thing that took away my creative passion to begin with.
One step at a time.
And not alone.
All that extra stuff of having been in an abusive relationship, getting out of it, the anger, the grief, the mourning over the death of illusions or the rage of finally seeing the reality, these things are heavy baggage to carry. But it’s ours to deal with and bring peace to, not to simply set aside (if it were possible) as others might prefer us to do.
That’s why it’s vitally important to hang around other creative people, to be some part of a network of fellow artists. It’s easy to get sidetracked so that you wind up wandering around in the swampland of fallout, unable to find your way back again.
Seek out others who are living the resonance of creativity that you aspire to. You can’t be around creative people without catching the bug. Creativity is contagious.
Let yourself be infected.
This doesn’t mean actual collaboration with others on projects, although that is fabulous too. It’s more like soaking up the warmth of a campfire on a cold night, reminding you of the fire within you, letting the embers of others ignite your own fire.
Any person engaged in the creative process, no matter what form it takes, can be a lifeline to your creative passion.
Right now, I’m inspired by my youngest daughter who kept auditioning until she landed a role in a Shakespeare play. Her enthusiasm and excitement, her commitment to the craft, just standing next to her as she exudes her happiness stirs the creative flow deep within me.
Many times, we lose our sense of creative passion through abuse that occurred in isolation. Victims of covert abuse often find themselves cut off from family and friends, either through distance or their own sense of shame.
Reclaiming our creative passion, then, must involve being a part of community once more.
Don’t go through this alone. Write alone, paint alone, the creative moment often demands just our attention, but do not walk the creative journey alone. Other artists, and creative people who may not see themselves as artists but live life passionately and authentically, can be the antidote to the symptomatic negative residue of abusive relationships.
Let the waters flow.
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POINTS TO PONDER
Who do you know who is alive and vivacious, engaged in living a creative life? Where can you go, what support groups exist to connect with like minded creative individuals?
Reclaiming Passion Series:
Reclaiming Your Creative Passion 1