Thursday, May 30, 2013

Anger Management

Sometimes I can't stand myself.
It usually happens after I have had one too many demands asked of me.  I am a perfectionist so I expect to be able to do all  things well and to do a lot of those things.  Then when something comes up or someone close to me says something to me that feels too critical or too demanding, the claws and fangs come out.
Those emotions feel so dangerous.  They are wild and powerful, like lions or tornadoes.  And the scariest part is that sometimes I want to feel those feelings, hold them close and nurture them, grow them, feed them.  That anger can feel so good even when it is scary.  I nurse it like a baby.  Only it’s a demon baby.  And if I let it, it will grow larger and larger and will become a beast that will lash out and destroy.
I don’t want that to happen.
I have been reading through Julia Camerons’ classic self help book, The Artist’s Way.  Ms. Cameron encourages self exploration and facing those demons that hinder our creativity and expressions of beauty.  I love the exercise she requires the participant to do throughout the book which she calls “Morning Pages”.  They are simply stream of conscious writing and she is not the first to use them, but I am finding the activity to be something like prayer.  And I am finding the things I have been nurturing but trying to hide are not worth holding on to.  In fact I am discovering for myself what artists though the centuries have already known; art and creativity can help us deal with our demons. 
I drew this monster a few weeks ago after getting really frustrated and angry. I sat in front of the computer, scribbling up and down a notebook page. The marks looked like rows of jagged teeth. I knew those teeth needed a mouth.  Then this little beasty was born.  And when I finished I felt like I had been emptied.  The monster which had been inside of me was now silently screaming up at me from the safety of the page.  She was captured and I could even laugh at her.  What an amazing thing to be able to laugh at what I had feared. 
God gives us paths to healing.  Prayer is an amazing way and art is a kind of prayer, I believe, because it calls for honesty and connection to who we are underneath all of the masks we wear.  No one can go to God and keep the masks on for long.  So in art of all kinds, the masks are removed and healing can come in.
Thanks for stopping to read about how anger got out of me one night and ended up looking silly on a piece of paper.  Have you experienced the healing of art in your own life? If so , I’d love to know about it. Please leave a comment! And share this article.  You never know who might need to hear an encouraging word about the significance of their art and its healing power… even in doodles!