My senior year of college, I started off my final year with an art class – landscape painting – to be exact. It was taught by this kookie painter who was the head of the art department. His claim to fame was a series of pieces with interesting textures created by wrapping the canvas in plastic wrap as the painting process occurred. They were everywhere on campus, so we all rolled our eyes. I later discovered that WAS what he was known for in the art world. This creative multimedium paintings was considered genius. Who knew. We were cocky college students, so of course we had to roll our eyes at him.
Besides the plastic wrap paintings, he was also known for two other things – his skin condition that he wouldn’t treat because he “liked the texture it created on his skin” and the fact he could see a nude in anything. He was kookie, but he was also very good at teaching art.
Each week, we were required to produce three completed paintings for class critique. If you went to class and the outings, it was just a matter of finishing what you started. No big deal.
During this class, drama started happening in group I was a part of (and leading). Major drama. I did what I normally do with drama – and tried to resolve it. In this case, I spent time trying to get the major drama creator to bow out of the group. She wasn’t happy, she wanted something that would have required a time machine to go back in time and undo events that occurred before me, and really, she wasn’t going to be happy if the time machine thing happened. I was getting it from all sides. Like I said, I was the leader, and everyone was looking to me (and demanding in some cases) that I fix it.
One week, I presented my paintings to the class. And as everyone waited for the professor to make his first critique which was customary, he walked up to the front of the room where I was standing and put his arm around me as he asked “Is everything okay?”
This gesture took me back. I made some sort of response, and he turned me to my paintings so that I was looking at them. “You have a theme going here. A theme of ‘leave me alone’ or separation. Your unconscious will come out in your art – even if you don’t want it to. Is something going on that makes me you feel alone or wanting to be alone?”
I told him (and the class) that there were. And I wanted to be left alone. So instead of a critique of my art directly, we had a mini-therapy session and demo of how art shows emotions, etc, etc. Even if you are trying to hide it.
And I always try to hide my feelings first.
Because I am not comfortable with feelings. Correction: I am comfortable with anger and happiness – but the rest I struggle with having other feelings. And regardless of my attempts to hide them, they come out.
Like yesterday, at my chiropractor appointment.
I had mentioned my allergies were bugging me. He did his whole “ask-the-body” technique and confirmed it, then adjusted me to fix it. Good stuff.
Until he said, “oh, there seems to be some emotional generated stresses that are also causing what you think are allergy issues.”
I knew there was. I had been stressing about a few things during the course of the week. I’ll be honest. But, I wasn’t going to tell Dr Ask-the-Body. So, he started going through asking my body what was happening. And he nailed it without me saying a word….
“There seems to be something you feel you are witholding – something you don’t feel you can say or so – like you can’t be who you are. Does this sound like anything going on?”
At this point, G (who was sitting behind him) was laughing his ass off. Why? Because he knew why I triggered on that. He knew what was happening. And he knew I was holding back.
This started a conversation about what triggered it – when was the first time I felt this way (which he also nailed without asking me but by asking my body). He put his hand on my shoulder in the end before advising me, “to always speak the truth because with the truth you cannot go wrong.”
I should mention that after that conversation and adjustment to “help my body release that feeling of old”, my headache went away and my neck didn’t feel like it needed to be adjusted. Damn, I hate it when the voodoo magic works!
He is right though – you cannot go wrong with the truth. I think I spend too much time worrying about the reception of the person hearing it. And while I never have a problem speaking the truth, it is making sure I don’t cause a domino effect that prevents me from speaking at all. I look past the words and to the after effect. And the effect usually results in me keeping my mouth shut.
Often I fall into the trap most people do – feeling like I’m responsible for someone’s reaction. In most cases, I don’t care. But when I do care, it never ends well. Mostly for me who holds it all inside until it erupts out of me – or oozes. Instead of leaving people to their own reactions and controlling only me.
Because in the end, I can only control me so much. Emotions and feelings have a way of coming out whether those on the receiving end like it or not. And you know what? If they like it or not, really isn’t my problem now, is it?
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” . . .it is making sure I don’t cause a domino effect that prevents me from speaking at all. I look past the words and to the after effect. And the effect usually results in me keeping my mouth shut.”
Oh, boy, can I relate. Fear of the reaction from the other person has shut my mouth more times than I care to count (or admit). We need a “don’t give a shit” pill with no hangover effects.
I relate to this post a lot. I’m comfortable with anger and happiness but not any other emotions. I transform into such an awkward person when there are emotions getting mixed in that aren’t happiness or anger. I become unsure of how to react and then get mad at myself for not knowing how to respond or react to something.
Your art teacher sounded cool. And he’s right about emotions coming out into your art, even if you’re trying to hide it. I don’t think you can separate how you’re really feeling when you’re honestly into what you’re doing with art.
Back to emotions, though. I don’t hold back because I worry about how people will react. I hold back because I don’t want people to see me being emotional. I can be honest with people to the point of being mean at times, even though I’m not trying to be mean. When it comes to me opening up and being honest about myself? I have a hard time being that vulnerable in front of anyone. I’m fine if people see me happy, I’m fine if people see me angry. Anything else? Not so much.
Anyway, ranted enough. Excellent post.
My old man…the Grand Jester always told me that if you told the truth at 10, you never have to worry about what you have said at 3.
Truer words could not be spoken…and this applies even if its the truth to oneself. Lying to oneself or denial is a very painful process in the end. So not worth it….