I missed posting anything last weekend - the first time in a while. I've had things at work taking a up a lot more brain space than usual, and so my free time was limited, but I'm really excited about some of what I've learned about myself as a writer/creator.
I'm sure most of you have heard my analogy of the "dragon" that stole my voice? I use it in my author bio on my website, and for a long time that's how I've analogized my battle to regain my creativity after my experiences with burnout. Here's the description:
For 20 years, Beth Bellamy’s relationship status with writing was “complicated.” An invisible dragon was stalking her and whispering lies. Winning local poetry contests and active involvement in writing groups clashed with Beth’s inability to believe her voice was worth hearing. Eight years as an English teacher and creative writing instructor allowed her to help others find their means of self-expression while she regularly hid her own work from others’ eyes. The dragon became relentless. After taking a 15-year detour away from writing and nearly stifling her soul in the process, Beth eventually decided to face down the dragon that stole her voice. That journey led her to both switch careers into the mental health field and to begin trusting in her own sense of self. Now a champion for spiritual healing and mental wellness through creativity, Beth’s current passion for writing is the satisfying reward for having fought and slain her own dragon.
Well, this past week for work I was doing more research into the role that ego states play in a healthy psychology. Ego states are the different parts of self. We all have many parts: the part of you who goes to work is different than the part of you who interacts with your friends. The part of you who manages household chores and keeps your responsibilities in mind is different than the part of you that kicks back and has fun. In a person who has expeirenced difficult things (and I'm not even talking about trauma yet), it can be pretty common for these parts to be more different from one another and even for parts of ourselves to be so "disowned" from our sense of self that we're unaware of them. You might even say that a person who has more concrete ego states seems very adept at switching masks to fit whatever environment they're in.
I can always tell when a case study or a theory I'm working with has personal application because I start to get emotional - usually I don't even know what emotion it is. It just tugs at me and then I know that I have to sit with it. As I sat with this emotion, I discovered that my voice wasn't stolen by a dragon. I had stolen it. Well, a part of me stole it. A very protective part of me believed that my young, creative, energetic voice (pictured as a child) would be safer if it were hidden away somewhere else and had taken action.
A few years ago I managed to "find" my creativity, my inner child, and that's what I've been describing as the "rescue from the dragon." But the reality is, there was no dragon. Since rediscovering my inner child and carrying her along with me, I've been trying so very hard to reengage with my creativity. And I've made progress, and although a lot of it has been the result of self-discipline rather than inspiration, the inspiration has been easier to access. I didn't realize there was another step towards wholeness that I could achieve until this past week and the emotional realization that my inner child was an ego state I'd separated out of myself to protect - and now she needed reintegrating. It's tough to describe, but I imagined my inner child very bravely agreeing to relinquish her autonomy and merge back into the rest of me. I cried for her. I admired her bravery.
The next day I had energy like I haven't experienced in years. I didn't need (or want!) coffee. I was excited to start my workday. I felt more whole than I had for a very long time. It's been just over a week since this happened, and I'm still feeling the wholeness and most of that energy. Some of it has depleted - I think these two separated parts of myself needed to find some equilibrium.
I'm looking forward to what comes of this newfound wholeness. My inner child, now integrated, has always had so many great stories to tell.