The Self-Love Oracle: February 20th – 26th, 2017: Head, Heart, Hands
Before I get to the forecast and self-care suggestions for this week, there’s a story I need to tell. Oddly I had a dozen ways to tell it before I sat at the computer, and now words escape me. Funny thing is, it’s about a moment in my life I struggled to speak.
It happened maybe 4 years ago. I was entering a few local craft markets with my artwork and finding cool-to-lukewarm reception in most places (I would find out that a lot of typical local crowds didn’t even realise I was selling my own artwork, thinking that I was just selling cards and prints from some random online sources or something). Wondering for the billionth time why I even bothered to paint, much less go through the trouble of these markets, my father’s idea of a pep talk was to say I had an attitude problem for not trying more different avenues.
My throat closed up and I couldn’t breathe. I was shocked, angry and most of all incredulous, that this was coming from the person who, for most of my life, especially as I got older, had loudly regarded my painting efforts as, I quote, “unproductive,” and “wasting time”. When caught doing it, I was subject to probing questions as to the purpose of whatever I was painting: What was it for? Was it for a paying client or “for nothing”? If not for a client, why was I doing it? What was it for, really? Why was I still wasting time with this stuff? What would it bring or what was it worth? What was the use of this, time after time?
When I could speak, my words had to be choked out of a throat that felt like there was a vice around it, and I said: “Do you think, it is so easy to just suddenly have that attitude when you, for all of my life until only recently, called art ‘unproductive’ and ‘a waste of time’?” I felt like I was in one of my nightmares in which my life depended on someone hearing my cries for help, and when all I could get out was a whimper. But I knew he heard, because he was quiet. And I heard a “sorry”. He probably had had no idea of the cumulative damage of the past, the times I had become a weepy mess after his words, how much I had hid, not just my work, but the shit I felt. I felt the moment like a pivot in my life, that while the pain was still there, the active damage had been acknowledged and would stop. No further blame for my father: I’m sure watching me for years enter a world he was completely unfamiliar, the only way he had known how to help was to dissuade. And sure again, art isn’t easy all the time, and struggling in it can hurt. But what hurt WORSE, since I could remember? Was having those closest to me keep telling me that it would go nowhere. This hobby was a bad career choice.
And I’m not saying it’s a great one. I’m just saying that much as I wanted and tried, I just kept getting pictures in my head that I had to try and recreate with my hands. There were sketches, drawings and paintings (and story drafts) in the closet that I never showed, never scanned, dreamed of exhibiting, but would throw away. Then, when I was 18, I started putting some of my work on the Internet. It was hardly a fast track to fame or fortune. Wrestling with myself, I hated rejection, competition and stupid comments. (“Eee! Nudity!” “Why is figure so fat/thin/dark/winged/tailed/naked/not-real?” “What does this mean? What is it for?” What I wanted to say most to these comments was: “Work out your own answer. This isn’t a test. If you like it, great. If you don’t, you DON’T have to comment.”)
Long story short, I’ve long hidden my work in different ways. I hid it from people who wouldn’t understand. From people who would sound like my father. From friends, coworkers, acquaintances whom I suspected knew dick about art and would give the kind of comments I dreaded. It was tiring and self-defeating work: hiding, fighting, and fearing what people would say over artwork that I was already half-convinced was not good enough, worthless, “too hard” to understand, and would go nowhere. All this on top of the lack of money it brought and my own inner critic.
This isn’t a victory story. It’s just one of many from my life. I admire artists who are prolific and who share their work very readily. I imagine, rightly or wrongly, that they might have had different life experiences and I can try to be as brave and open as they are, but it’s taking me time.
For now, I’m trying to concentrate putting my work in front of the people who just get it. I slowly found that it helped ME to help other people create and show their work–once I knew that no one’s success threatened me as much as my own self-sabotage. I DON’T have to hide. There is so much on the Internet anyway, so much to scroll through, I expect it’s easier now for people to scroll past things that don’t connect with them–and a big part of me is relieved. Being lost in a crowd is not terrible for a person who knows her soul is laid bare in many of her images; not being seen often feels better than being seen and called out by people with no idea the hesitation I still feel before hitting “Publish”.
The point of this story for this week is this:
We will wrestle with the opinions and insecurities of others and with any luck, come to conclusion that the most hurts, the most mistakes, the most repressive thoughts are those that disregard our own feelings and the pulls of the heart. This invalidation doesn’t just come from others, we do it to ourselves. This over-lauded act of placing head over heart, numbers and logic over the inexplicable, takes a toll, splits us, pits one part against another, when the path always exists for heart and mind (and soul) to work together. The conflicts we watch playing out in the public sphere may well be conflicts we also keep perpetuating inside ourselves.
Love is celebrated in February, but to celebrate only romantic love is myopic. It’s more challenging, and rewarding, to find the parts of ourselves that have been unheeded and unloved, and to embrace them. This is union WITHIN ourselves.
With the solar eclipse in Pisces this week (another union), we want to close a chapter in our lives. It may be one that took more out of us than we realised, and we can choose differently going forward. There’ll always be differences between us and those around us, but we can choose our behavior and what we allow done to ourselves, and to others. Better, we can wish not only for everyone to live and let live, but to thrive.
This means letting YOURSELF live to your best and highest potential, too.
No video this week (tough weekend).
Limited boxed sets available here.