In January, if you were to ask me what my reading list was, you would have heard me say: “Two self help books, two medical books on the human brain, and Nora Ephron’s I Remember Nothing.” Not exactly the lightest reading list one should take on. Sure, Nora Ephron spiced things up a bit, and added a few laughs, but I still felt weighed down. Which was unfortunate, because I had compiled this reading list in hopes of finding a way to improve my life, to educate myself, and obtain some sort of happiness from within. I feel that I'm closer to reaching that idea now, but it's definitely taken me several steps to get there. So I’ve decided to write about it, all of it, because I feel that I must be completely honest with everyone about where I’m coming from and why this blog is so important to me.
Towards the end of last year, my dad was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's and dementia. This news, on top of tackling a series of unhealthy relationships and moving several times, threw me into a whirlwind of emotions, and I ended up in a very empty space. I became overwhelmed with all the uncertainty surrounding me. So, I stopped writing. I stopped blogging. I stopped doing theater. I had completely ceased all forms of creativity. I didn’t know who I was anymore, or what the point of it all could be. It's rather difficult to look at a disease like that and know there is no cure for it. There is only the idea of living with it, and seeing where it goes. And I began to embrace life with that same idea of unknowingness.
While the news of my dad plays a large part into this story, I should mention that there were (and still are) several other things that contributed to this downward slope into sadness and creative protest. Some people may say it was Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), which takes a toll on a large number of people during the winter season. Others might say it was my unstable living situations, and moving seven times in two years. It could be due to some unhealthy relationships with friends, coworkers, or even the relationship with myself. It was probably a combination of all of these things. Regardless, I refused to explain myself to others and furthermore, I refused to release all these frustrations in a creative outlet. So the emotions remained stagnant inside of me, desperately searching for a way out.
Still refusing to write about any of it, and finding myself very confused by own behavior, I found myself on a quest for some kind of understanding. I thought that if I read or saw something deeply profound, that would make everything clearer to me. I wanted a word or a phrase to hit me like a bolt of lighting. I wanted to feel completely awakened. I wanted to say, “Oh, that’s what’s been wrong with me. I feel so much better now that I understand it in that way.” I wanted to feel like I wasn't alone in this sadness. But that never happened. Life kept going on, and I kept trying to fix myself. Actually, no, that’s a lie. I kept trying to fix everything else around me. As many people do, when things are not in balance, I began to grab hold of anything that seemed secure. Which makes sense, because we are all looking to obtain that sense of balance in our lives. But I learned that wasn't exactly fair for myself in the long run, because then what I've done is become dependent on something (or someone) other than myself.
So on my quest of understanding, I went further down the rabbit hole, and ended up losing a piece of myself in midst of it all. I found myself even more confused and perplexed, and realized I was taking life far too seriously for my own good. I distracted myself with relationships, friends, and work, all in order to avoid dealing with the thoughts in my head. I still wasn't writing. I was going home after work, watching Netflix, and going to bed. On weekends I didn't want to leave my neighborhood, or my couch for that matter. As I slowly thought about getting back to writing, I had all these new voices in my head. Voices telling me that my work would be crap, that I had lost my talent, that there was no point in trying anymore. Finally, I decided to tell those voices to "Shut the fuck up." I realized that this is my life, and I was tired of being the thing that was holding me back.
Why am I sharing this? Well as I stated earlier, I want you to understand where my writing is coming from right now, and how this blog provides a large creative outlet for me. I've had the idea in mind to create this blog and website for myself, but mostly for others. I want to share my stories in hopes that others can relate to them. I want people to know they're not alone, we all go through these shifts and lulls. Sometimes you're not going to want to write, or paint, or sing, or even talk to people. And that's okay. It's part of the process. It’s not easy, and anyone will tell you that. Life can be very challenging. New York (especially) can beat you up time and time again, and you still stay with it. You can give your heart away and have it handed back to you in worse shape than before. But life goes on. People will also tell you that. And it really does.
A couple weeks ago something finally shifted in me. That creative energy I had been pushing down for months finally forced it's way out, and I have been on a creative surge ever since then. And I feel good. Overall, I feel really good. Of course I'm still working through a lot of these thoughts, but that's part of the process and journey we all face.
Yes, we all have our stories, our own paths that guide us. Sometimes you'll be on your way and something will happen that throws you completely off course. That's okay. One thing I've learned so far, is not to be too hard on yourself. You must treat yourself with the respect and love you deserve. If you don't do that, no one else will either.
I'm not ending this entry with a video, and I know many of you are deeply saddened by that. Trust me, I'll make it up to you soon. For now, I'd like to end with a quote.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” - Martha Graham
Copyright © 2018 Christine Drew Benjamin | All Rights Reserved