Mess as Creation

I recently read an article by Molly Spencer entitled, Against the Muse Myth: On Motherhood and the Writing Life. This particular piece resonated with me quite a bit because I could picture myself in Molly’s shoes: being a mother, being somewhat of a writer, and not feeling I would have the time to be both. For a long time, Molly thought that to be a writer, you needed to have some sort of wave of inspiration wash over you, that a sacred place to write was essential in creating authentic and engaging pieces. Writing wasn’t for in-between places, like making dinner or running errands. It was for designated hours attached to a desk with a 1940’s typewriter and ink in a jar. Molly discovered as she raised her kids, that those in-between places were the best places and times to write, and write she did.

I had the same outlook as Molly, for quite a few years. I didn’t feel I could ‘get the creative juices flowing’ unless I was surrounded by the right elements and had complete silence and the right type of pen with the right colour ink and the correct notebook and you see where I am going with this. The result? Nothing. Literally, blank pages, or a blank computer screen. For a long time I blamed my ‘writer’s block’ on the lack of stars aligning, but in reality I think I was scared. I still am, sometimes. A lot. What if my writing is terrible? What if no one reads it? What if I receive negative criticism? My anxiety does not help my cause, I must say; those phrases swirl around in my head, even as I write this.

But now? Well, there is one lesson I have learnt from restarting my writing journey: The more you write, the more you write. Yes, even if it is crappy, even if it is just a diary to yourself. Even if the words will never see the light of day. Even if you burn them. Just write, and eventually the words will spew all over you, and you won’t be able to stop. So I did what Molly did, and now I write when I’m feeding my son, when I’m waiting for an appointment, when I’m eating dinner or when I’m reading. It is like a pressure valve in my brain that needs to be released. I can feel it about to break the surface, and I know I have to write it down or I will regret not catching those words by the bucketful. You may be thinking, “Isn’t that the wave of inspiration?” No. It is my own creation. I kept chiselling at the rock, bit by bit until water flowed effortlessly out. However, if I don’t keep working at that rock, keep chiselling and hammering, eventually the flow will stop. My inspiration is created by myself, not by a muse.

I did once have a muse, though. For years, I believed she helped me with my creativity, leaning over my shoulder as I sat at my desk, her energy transcending through me, through to my work. But when life’s difficulties encumbered me, she suddenly disappeared. This idea I had personified into a ‘muse’ had abandoned me, and for years I believed that I wasn’t meant to be a writer. It wasn’t my passion anymore. I was very wrong. I tried various other avenues, thinking that I could find fulfilment in other work, other relationships, other fields of interest, but I was slowly dying inside, little by little. I stopped reading. I stopped practising witchcraft. I just stopped. I felt like a fly on the wall in my own life, watching my self as an automaton while the world passed by without so much as a thought of me. I entered into an abusive relationship, I stopped and started various courses, I drank, I drugged, I moved to the country, I got married, I got cheated on, I had a baby, and now as I write this piece, I am in the middle of a divorce, living in my parents’ house with an almost ten month old boy, what was left of my life for the past several years crammed into the back room along with my dog and three cats. But I am writing again. I am reading again. I am catching up on the life I knew I should have lived but I was too afraid to.

I write this piece with pens scattered all over my desk, various books and notepads strewn somewhere in between, with muddy cat pawprints leaving a trail through it all. And I don’t care. The art of perfection is a time waster. It is a preventative. A stopper in the intricacies of our lives. Mess is creation. Mess is an abundance of inspiration. Mess is human.
This is my mess, and I am absolutely content in thriving in it.

Read Molly’s article by clicking here

Regret

I am sure I’m not the only one, but I’ll be one of the first to admit that during the last thirty years of my life, I have had more regrets than I probably should. Should? Should, by society’s standards, I guess. Here are just a few on my list: I never graduated high school; I never went overseas; I never had a proper job; I entered into an abusive relationship; I got married when all the signs were telling me not to and I had a baby when I probably shouldn’t have (you might be thinking, did she become a teen mum? No, my son is only 10 months old and I love him with all my heart, but the circumstances regarding his conception and birth are complicated).

Some of these decisions I did not have complete control over, but this doesn’t stop the nagging, dragging feeling of wasted time.

I try my hardest to be my best self for a few days, then I clock out, and I have to restart my efforts again. Some things are more consistent than others, but I still cannot get into a headspace where I feel I am doing the best of what I am able. I don’t push myself to be better either; I stick to the same old habits. If I could just break one bad one, just one, it would be proof that I am not a complete failure, that I can change, that I can grow. It’s even harder when you feel like the world is holding you back, that your lot on life has been dealt, that this is how it is always meant to be. These are the days that I trudge through to get to the light on the other side.

I look at my son and I think how grateful I am to have him in my life, but I also feel sadness. Sadness, not for having him, but as a reminder for the possibilities I could have pursued if I hadn’t succumbed to the demons encircling my life. I had let them take over my body, invade this vessel and make decisions that I was never happy with. I thought I was, but I used that concept as a mask for my true feelings, my true desires. Not all of it was my fault (I mean, no one asks to get abused, or to be assaulted), but at some stage I should have taken responsibility for my own life, my own decisions.
I am so thankful I realise this now, but I definitely have regrets about not realising it sooner. I think that’s ok, though. It is difficult to live a lifetime and not have some regrets about the paths we have taken. I think it takes a lot of courage to admit the mistakes we have made, and still feel regret about them. It becomes a problem when we let those feelings consume us, and prevent us from moving forward and choosing different paths.
When I feel those suffocating instances, I try to read, write, watch anything that replaces that negative mindset—even if it is for a short time—because great things can happen in minutes, or seconds; that pivotal instance when you choose A instead of B. I don’t think there is any correct way in navigating regret and bad decisions, and people around you will try to advise you on the best way, or steer you in the direction they think is correct because it worked for them. It’s okay to heed their voice, but don’t let them dictate what you truly feel, or what your intuition is saying you should do. And if you make a few more mistakes along the way, if you regret a few more things, that’s okay too. You can cross those off your list. They are done.

So why am I writing about this? Because I think it is important to recognise the progress we all have made through the trials that life has thrown at us, and to acknowledge the emotions those experiences bring out. I have the classic case of internalisation: I generally do not acknowledge my feelings, let alone express them to other people. This can cause a multitude of issues, not limited to the act of numbing myself, self-isolating (which I think we have all done enough of this year) or using any means of distraction to avoid sitting alone with my own thoughts. It has come to my attention this year, that this is not the healthiest of habits, and that in order to progress in other areas of my life, I need to face these demons. How am I doing this? Well, conventional therapy has never seemed to work for me (however, I do highly recommend it as a starting point for anyone with a mental illness, or if you need someone to talk to), and after years of trying and failing different techniques (such as mindfulness, meditation and medication), I have gotten to a point in my life where I am just…over it? Over the constant, vicious cycle of depression and anxiety taking me over. I will admit here, though, that I have gotten to this ‘over it’ point in my life many times before. However this year it seems different. Maybe it’s the forced self-isolation from Coronavirus that finally pushed me, but I am making multiple conscious efforts to better myself in any way, shape or form, and not punishing myself if I fall back, or make a mistake, or you know, feel regret for my decisions.
So back to how I face my demons: I keep a journal every day, and I do not get upset if I miss an entry; I read, read, read and read whatever I want, in whatever order, whenever I can; I complete shadow work (I will explain this concept in a future blog, otherwise feel free to research this yourself), but most importantly, I let myself be. It sounds too simple to work, but it does. For me, at least. I let feelings course through me, and tell myself that they are temporary. I allow myself to feel and not feel guilty about it.

Regret is probably one of the hardest and more debilitating emotions to experience, simply because it trails with it a plethora of other feelings, memories, issues and more regrets. It compounds into a mountain where the top is barely visible in the stratosphere. This doesn’t mean it’s the end, or the beginning of the end. As someone who hadn’t written a word for several years, being able to write this much (and consistently) shows how much we can overcome, even if it takes us a little longer to realise it.

New Beginnings

I was once told by my literature teacher that those with a gift for writingor for any art formif they hone their talent they can produce amazing work that is marvelled. However, there are forces at play which will try to prevent this, and if the creator lets it, it will consume them and those creations along too.

This is what happened to me, and has been happening to me consistently over the years.

I have experienced my own fair amount of trauma, and I have struggled with my inner demons to the point we are at a stalemate. I keep wondering if it is worth the effort, clawing at this cage that was built by others yet maintained by myself, but then I remember why I do what I do, why I write.

It is as much for me as it is for you, and I would rather share my passion, my creations, instead of keeping them locked away in the depths of my mind; otherwise what will happened if they stay there? It will all fade over time, and there won’t be any remnants left to remember those ideas, those stories, those memories.

I refuse to let myself fade, and to let my negative thoughts consume my inspirational ones.

I have chose a pseudonym to commemorate my resurfacing to the world of the living (Andromeda Eve is definitely not my legal name), and I chose it because to me, it represents new beginnings, positive change, and the harnessing of my inner strength to design a life that I want to live, not how others want me to.

If there is anything I have learnt over the last ten years, it is this: you are the one who can manifest change, and you should not do it for the benefit of anyone but yourself.

I look forward to the journey ahead.

Andromeda Eve