I’m in a creative slump. The only reason I am writing today is because it is my go-to method for feeling productive.
I have not written much in the past few months. I’ve produced a handful of blog posts, but find the burning need to express myself with words to be less. As my circle widens, I want to keep parts of myself private. I know some of you are thinking there are things she keeps private? I’m pretty sure she’d show me her urethra if I asked politely. Yes, hard as it is to believe, I do have some boundaries, and I’m finding those lines of demarcation increasing with time.
I note patterns within my writing. Ups, downs, moments of epiphany that get me through a storm only to be forgotten once the clouds clear. If I’m to keep writing, shouldn’t I be moving forward?
I think that is part of the slump. When I draw, I find repetition in my work. This didn’t use to bother me- I saw it as evidence of my “style.” Gosh, to think I have a style. But now I feel the need to expand, to push beyond what I know I can do and tread into that territory of failure. With failure, comes growth, and growth is good- right?
Growth can also be painful.
After yesterday’s post, I thought more about the connection to food. Why do my feelings manifest in my relationship to what I eat?
I completed my second Whole 30 a month or so ago. Most people ask “What’s a Whole 30?” For 30 days, I committed to no dairy, grains, alcohol, soy, processed sugar, and probably a few other things I am forgetting. Basically I ate fruits, veggies, meat, eggs and nuts.
One benefit I hadn’t fully appreciated until recently is how that lifestyle forced me to develop other coping mechanisms. When I felt bored or stressed or out of sorts, I drew. i also read books, and ran, and rode my bike, but my main form of decompressing was drawing. I felt really satisfied with what I produced. Not perfect. I could point out multitudes of areas for improvement. But still, I felt proud for channeling stress into something productive.
The slump finds me reaching for old habits- in particular, food. If I eat this cupcake, I will feel better. I can be happy. If I eat two cupcakes, I will be twice as happy.
But the problem is eating cupcakes does not bring the same satisfaction as making something beautiful. It leaves me feeling hollow. And weak. Like I’m failing.
I had a conversation on-line with a friend a couple of weeks ago about the slump. I wrote:
“But I’m in a creative slump, and really have always felt like a hack in those arenas. I sometimes feel like a terrible person masquerading as a nice person and waiting for everyone to find out the truth.”
I read those words, and I see an even larger pattern, a glaring problem. It is not just that when I’m not creating, I’m not being productive. It’s that I am still trying to figure out my value as a human being.
I am not a person whose sense of worth comes naturally. In most aspects of my life, I’m what you’d call a “good hustle” person- the kid on the team who makes up for their lack of talent with pluck and hard work. I’m not the person who moves through life with grace and confidence, but I am the type that keeps on trying.
This past week, a friend was having a medical procedure. I offered to bring her dinner to make her recovery a little easier. Which is something a “good” person would do. Except I didn’t remember to bring the dinner until 10pm that night- long after her three year old would have eaten dinner.
In a few weeks, I’m taking a trip to see my family. I reached out to a friend to see if she wanted to do something special during my visit. She responded “Let’s just play it by ear.” It hurt my feelings. I would have rather she said “I can’t. I’m busy.”
I was reintroduced to a woman I have met on several occasions. I recall meeting her, she seemingly does not remember meeting me. On the first occasion, I gave her my number and inquired as to what hers was. She said “I’ll just call you.” Which of course she never did. This last time being introduced, she was eager to exchange information, offering her number to me this time. I wondered what changed. Why was I now worthy of consideration?
I’ve mulled over all of these instances obsessively for days. They all left me feeling terrible and at fault. I needed that artistic outlet, that method for returning to being “good,” or at least passable, at something.
This morning, I wanted to interact with my boys and I was Legoed out. I asked if they wanted to draw. We sat down and began doodling together. We listened to records and inked out pictures. My drawing looked similar to all of my other drawings, but my fingers felt happy just to be moving. There was peace in the moment. It is so easy being with them. I know they love me, just as I am, precisely because of who I am. Sometimes I wish I could see through their eyes. I am not good or bad or worthy or not. I am just Mom. I am the person that feels like home.
I don’t have it figured out, and most likely never will. But I’ll keep trying. I may not be good, but I do have good hustle.