Creative Crisis Questions: How you answer influences your eating disorder recovery, vulnerability to relapse or entrance into a new and better way of living.
- Can you trust yourself when you doubt yourself?
- Can you keep up with life sustaining tasks, like paying bills and showing up for work on time when you are feeling low?
- Can you be at least moderately pleasant to others while you are frustrated with yourself?
- Can you make the bed, feed the dog, read a story to your child while you believe you are in free fall and losing a real sense of purpose and direction?
This is part of the creative process in work or life that doesn't get much attention. It's not glamorous, It's not fun. And it feels like ineptitude or loss of commitment, will power or a fading intellect that can't grip essentials. It feels like energy loss and the end of the road.
Trust yourself! I've been in this state periodically. Every time it comes I feel defeated and struggle to follow the old zen koan "Chop wood and carry water." And every time this condition transforms itself and me into a new and more expansive way of meaningful living.
I'm just coming out of such a state. It lasted over a year! My good news is: My next book sprawled all over my morning journal yesterday!
I'm feeling alive and reassured that procrastination once again is revealed to be percolation. In retrospect I see all the unconscious signals in my life that have been nudging, pushing and shoving me toward what I felt was a sudden revelation - especially my eating cereal in the morning and my growing and nurturing two pomegranate trees. The nearness of the first day of Spring may have been the final jolt that pushed the whole piece into my consciousness. Hooray! Now to clear the decks and dive in.
This new book will be more of the mytho/poetic non fiction genre that goes into the unconscious metaphors underlying binge eating and night binging in particular. Most importantly, it will show you recovery options you may not have perceived before. Back to ancient Greece I go to pull up forgotten or neglected wisdom that we need today.
The challenge in moving through creative crisis, yours and mine, is stay present for the mundane and emotional frustration when you are:
- in a place where you don't know what you are doing
- or what's really important to you
- losing interest in what you think is an important task
- spending thinking about what is not important
It's easy to get frustrated with yourself at such times, especially if they last longer than what you belive is a short time emotional dip. This is the time to keep to your eating disorder recovery work. It's essential to keep up with mundane tasks, even if they tend to get out of hand and you feel overwhelmed by them at times. This is the "trudging the path to happy destiny" 12-step talks about in the AA Big Book.
Give yourself avenues of self expression during these times, even if you think you have nothing worthwhile to say to yourself. Journal daily, even if you feel you are filling your pages with complaining and a list of your woes. You are giving your unconscious a place to meet your conscious mind.
Your unconscious is gathering treasures and reconfiguring what is important to you. Your conscious is trying to maintain an old way of looking at priorities. When you hit the tipping point, AND when you've given your unconscious a route to your conscious, AND when you've given your conscious mind permission to accept new information - up bubbles the fountain of innovative thought. You align yourself with the familiar in a new and fresh way.
Then you may discover that what you thought was unimportant was very important. What you couldn't do on a regular basis was something that needed to fade away. When you didn't know what you were doing, you were casting about, on a search, sniffing the territory and following the scent that would lead you to your new treasures.
- Have you moved through such a passage?
- Have you ever discovered, in retrospect, that a startling new and wonderful idea or decision or approach to living was leaving clues in your life long before you were aware?
- Have you been in a creative crisis without knowing it and resorted to your eating disorder for comfort and relief?
- Have you discovered the sustaining and relapse prevention power of "chop wood and carry water?"
The exercises in Healing Your Hungry Heart will help you continue to honor yourself, even when self doubt strikes. Self doubt often is the beginning of a creative crisis where you doubt your direction, not yourself. It could mean that a new direction based on your healing and authentic self is percolating up to awareness. Give it and yourself a chance.