Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Healing Power of Honesty

Well, Open Salon has done it again. In my darkest hour, I poured my heart out in a post, feeling somewhat guilty for expressing such a bleak mood concerning the bleak circumstances of my life, yet instead of chastisement (which at this stage of my life I still fear), OSers opened their hearts in ways that completely caught me off guard.

And quite simply, things changed.

I suppose the change was set in motion a few days earlier when I was drawing and writing in my illustrated journal (as opposed to my reflective journal, where I write multiple pages at a time). In an effort to break the logjam of isolation, I began doing some illustrations accompanied by scribbled thoughts inspired by the image, yet instead of it being a satisfying exercise as it had always been, it felt empty and boring.

It wasn't until the sixth entry of this new Moleskine journal that I realized what the problem was: I hadn't been honest in the previous five, and when I began to write from my center, when I acknowledged that things had taken a bad turn pain-wise, the satisfaction returned, and momentum began anew with hardly any effort at all.

Of course, there was a certain amount of effort in taking up the pen and paint, but it was a small one, and one I enjoy, regardless of the satisfaction level. What I love about these little sketches is that I always learn something, even if the drawing is a monumental failure, so the effort is never wasted.

These drawings and written thoughts led me directly to an enlightenment of sorts, and that, in turn, led me to a new blog post, where I simply poured my heart out, setting aside what others might think. It all flowed out of me in a single sitting, and when I clicked "publish," I just sent it out to the universe, response be damned, and once again, I wasn't disappointed.

The comments I received helped in so many ways. Some people simply posted their compassion, while others offered more hard-core suggestions, all of which were concrete things I could try. No matter how short or long the response, I suddenly didn't feel so alone, and I connected with others on a level I don't come across in my day to day life.

This boost from so many open hearts filled me with a much-needed and newfound energy that I hadn't felt since the new round of pain started over a month ago, and little breakthroughs began happening all over the place. One thing I realized is that I need to give up my art studio and bring everything home. For a few years, I've been struggling with the realization that I no longer have the energy to get there, nor can I afford it, yet giving it up felt like a failure to me. It would have been the period at the end of the sentence that my life has drastically changed these past five years, that I no longer can physically do the things I've always done.

Yet in accepting this fact, I can see all the good that will come of it. In having all of my art materials here at home, I will most likely paint more, not less (which has been my fear), and I'll have some extra cash in my bank account to boot, which I so desperately need. I've been spending a few thousand dollars a year to keep my studio, but it's become more of a storage place than a place of creativity, as when I go there, my isolation seems to feel more intense. Some studio mates have moved out due to their own financial issues, and it's just not the same place it used to be. And so it is time that I make my own changes.

Another astounding, even life-changing, insight was that this strange malaise actually began when I went on the Percocet in early September. While I definitely needed something to curtail the breakthrough pain, I suddenly realized that perhaps Percocet wasn't the answer, as for some, it does indeed cause depression. And in my case, when depression increases, so does the pain, so I found myself in a loop of pain, depression and pills.

To have this light bulb go off above my head was akin to an angel whispering in my ear, so my doctor changed my breakthrough pain medication back to Vicodin, and indeed the weight caused by the Percocet lifted. I will definitely note this little incident in the "not all meds work the same for all people" file for future reference.

While these insights might not seem like a big deal to others, I truly don't think I would have had them had I not been honest with myself and others, and I actually feel inspired to give up the studio, to bring all my cherished paints and paintings home here with me. In the last two days or so, I've been actively thinking of how I'll rearrange things in this small one-bedroom railroad, and I think it'll work.

It seems that momentum has been once again set in motion, and I am thrilled. But it wouldn't have happened without my taking the risk of being honest with others, and without their compassion in turn.

So thank you, Open Salon. While it was important for me to be honest, it was equally important that you offered such comfort and support. I would not have found this new place without it.

Note to those reading this on Blogger: This blog is cross-posted on Open Salon, a social networking site in the form of a blog.


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