One value I place above all is authenticity. And on a blog, this means always being honest, and being vulnerable as much as is appropriate.
I firmly believe the best creative work – including our lives – is always honest, always authentic.
Tell the truth, the last few months have been tough for me. Without going into too much detail, I’ve been feeling led to confront issues from my childhood, which I’ve buried and run away from for 20 years. They’d been undermining me and controlling me for too long – and this year, I knew it was time to confront them. I knew this would mean going down a dark path, into the valley, and knew this would impact me – but I also knew it was, and is, absolutely necessary for me to grow.
What I didn’t expect was the depths to which this would go, and has gone.
I’ve had very low moods, and levels of bitterness, anger and hatred I’ve noticed in myself which I had no idea went so deep. In one sense, I’d been disconnected from it – it’s a part of me, but it’s the hurt 15 year old child, full of pain, feeling betrayed left behind and forgotten by everyone, wanting to be heard, wanting to be saved. It’s a very emotional part of me. My rational, mature, 39 year old mind has been able to stand back from this and see it for what it is, most of the time.
But as those close to me know, there have been small pockets where this 15 year old hurt teenager has got control of me. Not my proudest moments, to be honest.
I’m still very much right in this season in the valley. But even in the last week, I’ve seen breakthroughs.
Last week, after much procrastination, avoidance, and stress, I finally finished the final edits of my book, before it goes my editor a final time, and then on to the designer. The text of my book is, essentially, done. (more on that in a future post).
On the same day, I also completed edits and compilation of the magazine for writers which I edit. I had pushed these right to their deadline, as life had become overwhelming. But that night I focussed and got them done. The result was startling.
I found the more I engaged with my gifts, the more I began to feel alive again. The more I stepped out and lived my calling, the more to feel a bit more like me again (you can tweet that).
For a long time, writing and everything which goes with it has felt like a burden. I’d allowed a betrayal by a fellow writer, and the issues I was dealing with, to overwhelm me, and to crush my love of writing. I’d given in, maybe even given up. But engaging in the work again, focussing on the craft, and finishing something I’d worked hard on and cared a lot about, it changed me. It raised me out of this funk I’d been in.
Once I got up and got to work, once I showed up, the muse was awakened again…and light began to shine again.
The day after this, I received a phone call from my Dad. Without sharing details, I’d never heard such tender, encouraging, loving words from my Dad. About my writing, about this gift I had to share with the world. The level of confidence he had in me moved me deeply.
Learning From The X-Men
Later that night, I saw the movie “X-Men: Days Of Future Past”. In the movie Professor Charles Xavier (played by James McAvoy) , had let himself go, become self-involved, abandoned his powers, his gifts, to numb the pain he had suffered through betrayal, abandonment, and failure.
And he was met by Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) who told Charles he had to get out of his self-pitying state, and start using his gifts to serve others. All of which sounded eerily familiar.
It was a huge moment for me.
I knew I had been having those moments of self-pity. Not to the same extent as Charles Xavier, but I’d had my moments. But I’d given into them way too easily. Because it was comfortable. Because it was safe.
In that moment I felt both encouraged and challenged. That whilst I needed to confront this darkness inside, and face up to it, and process it – I didn’t have to let it control me. I could choose to be different. I had the power to indulge it or to acknowledge it, put it in the back seat and not give it control.
I won’t lie, this hasn’t suddenly made everything OK. I still have dark moments. It’s still a battle to deal with these demons, and it’s not all going to magically get better.
But I can now see a ray of light in the dark valley I’d not seen before. And I’m much more focussed on the work I need to do.
Which has only proved, yet again, that no matter how dark things are in our lives, if we keep going, we can get through. We are not forgotten. We are not alone. And there is hope – for every single one of us.
Question for Reflection:
How can you confront your most difficult pain, without letting it control you?
Share in the comments below!
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(Picture Sources: The BeanCounter.com / Online Source)
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