Have you ever found yourself in a situation you don’t want to be in but feel guilty for backing out but know you cannot possibly carry on because you can’t manage what you’ve agreed to?
Recently a part of me made a unilateral decision which has had deleterious implications for the other parts by involving them in activities and obligations they have not signed up for and are way beyond their capabilities.
Since my last breakdown a part of me has been in complete denial, mainly because it’s too painful for that part to feel the shame of not being “someone”. The fear of both internal & external criticism for not being productive, of having mental health issues & not working has led that part of me to set up an exhibition, a podcast, this blog, involvement with an art trail and create a social media presence. All of which was done without taking into consideration whether other parts of me either could actually maintain these roles & activities or even if they wanted to.
Fear of humiliation, criticism, stigma, not being good enough has led to a manic flight of energy to try & manifest the identity of an artist. Fortunately, in therapy, I’ve managed to locate the source of these fears. I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say, returning to such an early traumatic memory has been exhausting yet healing.
Finally, that part of me that pushes the other parts into situations and acts like a tyrannical dictator has now been exposed, gently & carefully, as a frightened child trying to survive in an unsafe environment. It’s these early childhood experiences that are at the root of splitting, mental health issues sometimes boiling down to a part of us trying to appease internal critical voices that admonish us for being intrinsically bad.
And you could compare this internal process with external situations, for example the current emphasis on individualism and needing to be “successful” at the expense of the community and world resources. Addressing individual needs is important but meeting those needs that are driven by insecurity or a desire for power and whose actions have a negative impact on others or the environment is, at the least, questionable.
So, after I had listened to the other parts of me who didn’t want to do the art trail, who, instead, want to do other things, it became apparent that my system was not in agreement & was so polarised around this artist identity & all the additional requirements that it was time to stop and adapt. The golden rule is, if you cannot agree inside to do something, then you don’t do it until there has been more processing and a consensus is reached.
This takes time, energy & the acquisition of listening & mediation skills. I’m researching and learning more about consensus decision-making.
The organiser of the art trail was extremely understanding (parts of me had expected to be heavily criticised & rejected) &, after a few hours of emotional release, parts of me felt so relieved that this whole denial circus had come to an end, that they actually felt a desire to paint.
The pursuit of achievement and “external success” actually makes me more mentally ill. My focus now is to lead a life based on agreement, to shift my focus from external affirmation to internal processing. It cannot be any other way. Democracy doesn’t work, the minority always feels resentful, where consensus decision making prevents the situation of winners & losers & the sabotage by the latter. Those disenfranchised parts of ourselves, the parts we ignore or devalue, always have methods of letting us know that they’re not happy. Mine makes me physically ill, hence the exhaustion, vertigo and dissociation.
Since getting real about what I can and cannot do & what parts of me really want to do, I’ve felt calmer & my creative mojo is slowly returning but in a different way. This creativity will be for curiosity, enquiry and joy.
This will take some working at but after this last relapse, I have to commit to this emotional processing as a proactive way of keeping well. The outcome, if I don’t, isn’t something I want to keep reliving and probably won’t if it leads to a heart attack or stroke. Prevention is always better than cure, not that using consensus is just about avoiding the pitfalls of poor decisions, it’s about making good ones with more sustainable outcomes.
If only world leaders and those in power would acknowledge others & the needs of the environment & see that we are all part of the same earth and that their narrow economic focus negatively affects us all and future generations.