Last night I had a breakthrough. I did something I’ve been fearful of doing for years. I painted. I went to a painting class with a friend and I created something out of nothing…of course while following instructions. Most folks do not know that I used to paint a million years ago. I was actually quite good. I was going to attend the Art Institute in Paris in my late teens. And….then tragedy happened. I allowed life to dictate my worth. Funny how we give others that power. I stopped painting all together for years. I gave my power away along with every paint, canvas and art supply!
In 2001 I had a head injury and I lost my mind. I lost memories. I lost fear. I had amnesia and didn’t recognize my 6 children. I was 33 years old and I returned to being 19. I left the hospital searching for my paints and canvasses. That accident opened up my creativity for a short while. Then, again, I allowed with great effort and lack of responsibility others to dictate my worth. I stopped painting. I went to several therapists trying to get back the juices. I would stand in front of a white canvas and shake….violently crying in a massive overwhelming phobia as if it was a giant spider coming at me. I cannot verbally express the anxiety that the thought of painting kept bringing me. I stopped because the thought of painting literally made me sick.
Last night, with a birthday friend in tow, we went to a restaurant to paint. It was one of those Wine and Art sessions. I didn’t shake. I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t judge myself. It was kid’s play. It was a fun elementary-school painting that I did not take as serious. There were several moments, while painting grass, that my old strokes appeared. I began to feel like Van Gogh again…for a few minutes. Then the internal critique began, “Oh my, the jar is lopsided. Oh, my God, this is crap….” But something mystical happened….
As the adorable young teacher was taking a break a young intoxicated man stopped to talk to her and tried desperately to get her attention. He was slurring his words, being silly, and she tried in a kindhearted and gentle way to move the conversation along so he would leave. I sat there watching this and laughing. EGO had just entered the space. There it was intoxicated, making a huge fool of itself. I saw it clearly. EGO was trying to seduce her just as much as it had been falsely seducing me with my art. I got it. I didn’t see a man. I saw years of self-sabotage waiting to be acknowledged. I stared at it and laughed out loud. My friend and I just giggled like two school girls at the scene developing in front of us.
I returned to my painting. Ego had been critiquing me. It had been denying me from moving forward. So what if it was a silly painting of fireflies coming out of a jar. It didn’t have to be perfect. At that moment I heard my eldest son’s echo, “Mom, it doesn’t matter what you paint…just do it. Create something and little by little you will get your mojo back.”
I have had many who have tried to encourage me to move past this issue. My partner, friends, children and even the little itsy bitsy voice in my heart…but to no avail. Last night watching the young man stand there making a fool of himself while saying something about the paintings I got it. Ego had no business being in my creative time. I love my lopsided Van Goshish painting of stars and fireflies swirling in the night sky. I loved my hands covered with paint. I loved how I felt breathing the mountain fall air as we waited for the next instruction. And what I love most is that I conquered one of the biggest fears I have had for decades. I allowed others to dictate how I should feel about my art. It paralyzed me. It killed part of who I am.
How many of you have allowed another to dictate your worth? How many of you have been paralyzed into deadly anxiety from living out your dreams? How many times can this go on without you shutting the drunken ego off? Sit that bastard at a table and give it some water. Let Ego cool off and move on. YOU get to decide what and who you allow to dictate your creativity, your worth, your love and all that you are meant to do in this world. You got this! I can’t wait for the next class. I might just be inspired to channel Monet!