More traffic in Costa Rica, www.carolineallen.com
After receiving a few emails on yesterday’s blog Give to Receive, I’ve decided to further explore the issue of support.
First, why do we find it hard to congratulate success in others? We absolutely know in our souls that the more open and loving we are, the more that energy comes back to us. But still we close down. We see another artist/writer needs a few words of encouragement and we don’t give it. We close down the other person, further shrinking any chance of a creative dynamic.
Such small behavior almost always goes back to an unhealed place in ourselves when we were not supported as children. Why should I congratulate her when no one ever gave me any artistic support? I can give you about a hundred examples from my own life, but I’ll just try to stay with one.
When I was a young girl, I was a spontaneous visual artist. Even as young as six, I was winning awards. I’d do these insanely intricate doodles and win a first prize ribbon. Once I made a doll by hand — it looked like something a voodoo doctor would use — and won a major prize — at a science fair! It was as if my art could be anywhere and it got attention. That is, until my sister and mother decided to nip my budding talent.
For some reason my mother didn’t like me being an artist. She hid any artwork I did in the bottom of her sock drawer. She told me it was too messy to display. I was 6. My siblings’ artwork was hung on the walls.
I supposed she was extremely busy with the farm, and I was a particularly good helper. If I did art, I wouldn’t be such a good helper. My older sister was also an artist, but she was allowed because she wasn’t particularly good at doing the chores.
Don’t get me wrong. My sister is a really good artist. The mulch of her profound creativity enters the room before she does; it’s so thick you could cut it with a knife. But she demands all the attention, all the air in the room, until you cannot breathe.
The resentment in me over this is as large as a barn, as raging as a bull in heat. I’ve had much much worse happen, oh the stories I could tell, but this really sticks in my craw. OK, I’ll carry the bucket of animal entrails and slop it over the fence to the dogs, while SHE sits and paints. F#($#&(@P)!!!
Phew. OK, coming down here. So, last year, at age 44, when I moved into a studio with 185 other artists, what should happen? My nextdoor neighbor is just like my older sister, as gifted and as used to having the spotlight on her.
How in the heck am I going to say: “Congratulations! You’re so awesome!” to another artist when for so long I’ve been craving support for my own art? I screamed at the universe: What about me? What about my art? Am I going to have to spend the rest of my life fighting for a crumb of attention and support?”
Because of my childhood, at the studios I immediately assumed the position of bucket slopper to the stars. I heard this voice yell: “Caroline, ASSUME the POSITION!”
I believe it is this sort of background gunk that goes through all of our minds when another artist/writer succeeds. And I know there are a lot of women out there who were not supported in their creativity — good girls becomes wives and mothers. Doing art is selfish. Blah, blah, blah, blah naseum.
I know these women are out there because I’ve taught and coached hundreds of them. In doing so, I’ve seen that the support we all need is so very basic, so deeply fundamental and has been so missing for so long. For years, for centuries…and it turns some of us voraciously needy and others of us small and mean.
So, what I did at the studios was this. I immediately pulled in my energy. I asked the universe for help. I got clear on what was happening. I journaled about my sister. I meditated. I shamanic journeyed. I taroted.
I believe the universe gave me this nextdoor neighbor to help me heal this childhood wound. As I’ve worked on the issue I’ve started to put down the slop bucket. Picked it up again. Put it down. Down. Put it down!
I moved my studio down the hall so I’d have more breathing room. I turned inward, toward my own light. I made myself less available. I asked: How can I focus more clearly on my own art?
And lately I am able to go into my neighbor’s studio and congratulate her. I never say a negative word to her about her art.
I keep the balance, though. If I feel myself reaching for the slop, I pull back again.
I have had to learn to congratulate myself first, then I have the real soulful energy to come from an authentic place when I congratulate someone else.
What I ask of other writers is this — even if you feel the resentment over lack of support, try to convey goodwill to other women writers. Truly, I’ve made the greatest leaps forward when I let go of all the anger. Spirit moves through us all, transforms into color, shape and form. If we hold onto resentment, at the very least, we miss out on the magic, in others, in ourselves, in the world. We also aid in shutting down our sisters, and by extension ourselves.