for the past two years i have had the most amazing (platonic) relationship with a polish man. my therapist. there, i said it. i’ve been seeing a therapist. and i’m proud of it. i think it is important to talk about it as a means to break down some of the social stigma around mental health. the support is there for many of reasons: depression, loneliness, death, trauma, anxiety …. the list is endless. no, i’m not crazy (emotionally insane, perhaps) i just wasn’t at peace. back in 2011 (life theme: conflict and contradiction remember) my values guided me one way but my behaviour tormented me. nothing aligned. even the stars at night were blurry. there it was an epic tug of war between head and heart. i will let you take a guess at which one won.
two years on what have i learned? that i had been lying to myself for seven years or more. fraudulent in my own skin. sure, formative years, low esteem, tequila and an impulsive temper served as implications to stabilisation but there was only one thing responsible for this self-betrayal. that thing was me.
my thirty sessions of cognitive therapy behaviour has instilled in me the confidence and certainty that i was missing as i began growing into my own life’s leading lady. the polish practitioner also didn’t put up with my bullshit: tearful excuses, dramatic disillusions and illogical rants. he toughened me up. he was confrontational and comforting. he was kind enough to teach me how to hold my own hand.
we parted ways about a month ago. i will miss him but i also know that i don’t need him anymore. i have my morning meditation now. and i’m beginning to research spiritual therapy. or at the very least, therapy for well-being.
yet no form of therapy can replace the consoling nature of a good friend. i became a good listener while leading a group of students at a peer help centre during my uni years (PHC ladies if you are reading this i know you can appreciate the power of a quiet mouth and two open ears). and no philosophy or politics of well-being are as enlightening as the sound words of a good friend.
this was proven to me not so long ago. in a moment of panicked suffocation my kind australian blonde beauty said to me, “you’re not mad. you’re creative.” i’ve tried to process these words for a while. what did she mean? i’m not creative (in the traditional artsy sense). yes, it a suppressed inhibition but who doesn’t want to be pablo picasso or oscar wilde?
and then it hit me. i didn’t want to be either. i just wanted to be ME. the polish therapist instructed me to be ME. meditation is my time to reflect on ME. my good friend pulled ME from my stubborn slumber and introduced me to ME.
(ok, now i’m open to being labelled crazy but keep with me …).
and then this morning i read the school of life’s blog post about what it is like to live with a creative mind. essentially, its authors, jeff and julie crabtree, hypothesise the following:
the creative mind is wired with the ability to feel with great depth and passion. creative people often experience the world in a way we call skinless – as if they lack the protective shield and instinctive filtering that we normally use to cope with the barrage of sensory information that comes at us all. without good strategies for managing this hypersensitivity, instead of creativity – the result can be a plunge into the emotional depths.
what a brilliant offering: being skinless. it compliments the many theories about the natural link between vulnerability and creativity; expressing and making. or as aristotle philosophised, “there was never a genius without a tincture of madness.”
we’re all naked in our own minds. we all bear our own skins. clothes are just a mere covering. therefore, shouldn’t we all learn to be comfortable in our skin? according to the crabtrees it is no cliché. in TSOL’s post they close with five principles for living with a creative mind. i will attempt to summarise:
1. affirmation — we may seem confident but indeed we’re plagued by self-doubt
2. permission to fail — to be creative is to fail. otherwise we have one blank canvas of a life.
3. fear kills creativity — anxiety will swallow you whole. let go. get over yourself. and start making (creating) something of (for) yourself (others).
4. room to explore — live your life in wide open spaces. “don’t discourage curiosity” as the sage -crabtrees say.
5. they (creative people) need to belong — we’re naturally loners but we need like-minded spirits in order to thrive. i love this line, “creative people tend to be quite tribal … musicians like to work with other musicians, dancers with other dancers and so on. find a tribe.”
[end rant here.]
ok, so i’m a little crazy. intolerably weird at times. but it is time to eat my own words. and go find my creative tribe.