November 16, 2015

Rainy Day Starts -- Working through the Inner Critic's Power

A couple of weeks ago I started a writing class with an art therapist. It is not my first foray back into guided content creation -- for the past two Septembers I have taken a storytelling class hosted by the Vancouver Fringe Festival. While it was thrilling to have opportunity to perform again, it was also incredibly traumatizing.

"Why?" you might ask.

Well. The first year I took the class it took me almost no time to figure out how firmly planted I am in telling stories of myself that are firmly written in the "victim" narrative.

Which seemed weird to me, given that I have a pretty great life, overall.

Okay, not entirely shocking, as I had a childhood in which I was fairly victimized and not at all protected or nurtured by the adults around me.

I think I've said here before that I went to therapy instead of university, and that I hold a degree in me. I continue to practice "good mental health skills" as I go along, learning what I can from here and from there. And I've never been opposed to re-enlisting in therapy as it seems warranted. My husband and I did a bit of couples' therapy at one point, and I found it to be immensely helpful.

Last year, when I mistakenly thought a freak case of intussusception was just me being emo, I hired myself a top-notch therapist who came highly recommended by a friend and paid a fortune to see him once. I shortly thereafter visited an emergency room, and underwent emergent surgery because the big meanies in white or blue lab coats wouldn't let me leave without offering up a chunk of my large intestine. Ouch.

Anyway, back to that art therapist.

So far, two classes under my belt, the second of which I even arrived for on time. (New Leaf.) The first class was great! I had fun, let myself have at it without too much inner monologue. It was fun! I thought, "I can do this!"

Sadly, however, the art therapist asked us to explore our inner critic last week. To describe it. To give it physicality. And then to make it ridiculous.

Um ... that's a bit of a quagmire for me, it turns out. Sure, I was able to describe it: a brick wall that stands in my way. Encased in a thick steel casing so you can't chip away at it. Topped with glass, so that it is hard, cold, and any sound I make bounces back at me, amplified and distorted.

That was just the description.

To make it ridiculous I saw there were speakers attached to the wall, telling my WHY I can't do what I want to do with my abilities and talents, filling the room with noise that makes it impossible to hear a thing.

Turns out that wasn't quite what the therapist had in mind ... but my monkey brain doesn't always catch the finer details of an exercise. Turns out she expected us to make that critic funny, hard to take seriously, less harmful.



Not sure how you do that with an impenetrable wall.

I said I would work on it, but so far I got nothing. Class happens again tomorrow. Guess I will give it another go ... and I plan to be on time too. I mean, how do you slay your dragons if they get there before you?