My daughter and I were talking yesterday about how we handle things we don’t like to do, situations where we are angry or grumpy. We were returning from a dance class - one she most desperately did not want to attend. Why? Because of a meeting between her instructor, my daughter, and myself that went horribly wrong. It was a classic case of intention and perception out of alignment. We received feedback that left us angry, shocked, and confused and decided to leave the class. Fortunately, the principal of the school stepped in and requested a meeting which I agreed to go to despite my fears manifesting in gut-wrenching resistance. I dressed myself carefully and told myself I believed in me and that something positive would come out of this meeting. Then I drove myself to the meeting where it became immediately apparent the incident was indeed a huge misunderstanding. I was very glad I went.
However, my daughter had not experienced this shift from negative to positive. So when I told her we were going to go back for at least one more class, she resisted strongly. I made her go, listened to her move into fear and stress, want to throw up, almost start crying, then get very angry with me. She went to the class and was glad she had went. The energy shifted for her too.
As we were talking about this, she said sometimes she puts on a fake smile when she has to go to school and she is angry or grumpy and then it turns into a real smile and she feels better.
I’ve been thinking about this since yesterday, because you see, I have been putting on a “fake smile” for the last 6 weeks.
It began in February with a month of illness followed by illness by my back/hip going out again. By then I was down in the void and floundering about aimlessly.
Being a person who is used to actively creating all the time - having all of that energy come to a grinding halt is debilitating, especially when the period of time extends, and extends with no end in sight. I didn’t share where I was at partly because it was gradual, partly because I didn’t want to make it true by voicing it. I was determined to keep my fake smile on my face.
What happens to me as a creative person, is the Critic begins to roar in my face, getting louder and more persistent. Overpowering the voice of the Muse, overwhelming me in worry and fear. It feels like it is never is going to shut it up. All kinds of important questions came up and I couldn’t deal with them. I burrowed further into the void of my couch searching for a safe, quiet place to hide from the fears, worries, and roaring.
It is a slow, hard process to climb back out of the void. To come to a place of balance where the Critic shrinks back down to a purring cat instead of a full-throated angry tiger. I am not there yet. But, I am closer. My daily practice is to pet my cats while I put my ear to their tummy and feel their purr resonate inside of me.
Writing and painting are essential. Though at first it didn’t feel like that. In fact, I felt as uncreative as I can feel. Yet, somehow, an image of something came through that needed to be painted and, like a hook on a line, I grabbed it and began climbing.
Chrysalis is the painting that came to me and told me what my state of being was and how to begin healing myself. Metamorphosis is transformation at its most elemental. There is an amazing magic at work as a butterfly literally morphs from one state to another. It is no wonder to me, now as I look back, that I descended into the void and became overwhelmed. I am not sure there is any other way move from one state of begin to another, and apparently that is what I have been doing.
My metaphor for handling feelings is to imagine a river flowing. I have the choice of standing in the middle of the river and immersing myself in my feelings. Or, I can step out of the river when I need to and remember that my feelings, while an important part of me, do not define who I am. I can separate myself and gain perspective before I climb back into the river.
When I finished Chrysalis, I received the message to stand in the flow and sense where and how the energy is moving around me. To follow the movement in the flow, let it lead me. And, so, slowly I ascend back out of the void.