It was the weekend and I had another argument with my husband.
‘We’re arguing every day, we need to sort this out,’ I said before I left the house to go for a walk.
I closed the door behind me and started walking. Tears came out. Tears of frustration, tears of disappointment. Nothing I did was right. At work, I was failing every day, things slipped through the cracks, no matter how hard I tried, I felt like I always let somebody down.
Why couldn’t I just do things right? How come I couldn’t make everyone happy? How come, no matter how hard I tried, I always ended up letting myself down?
And then I stopped crying. I looked around and realised that I had taken a wrong turn and found myself on an unfamiliar street. I realised I was lost and I needed to be found.
I don’t know where it came from, but I felt a sudden urge to revisit Julia Cameron’s artist recovery programme. I had stopped writing morning pages and going on artist dates months, even years ago. After meeting my husband (which was the milestone I considered to be the completion of The Love Project) and after I finished writing my memoir, I thought I no longer needed to use the artist recovery tools. I had stopped being blocked, I imagined, I was cured of my lack of self-confidence as a writer and I no longer needed to keep up with the creative recovery. But even through they are wonderful creative tools, their real purpose is spiritual. Maybe I no longer was a blocked artist, but I was a blocked human being who desperately needed to get back into the flow of life.
All this time I had been busy being a full time project manager, wedding planning, moving house and working on the book, something inside of me – my forgotten creativity – was eating at me, chewing me at the seams, telling me something was wrong. Very wrong. Very, very wrong.
Things were very, very wrong because I had stopped having fun. I had stopped making things just for the fun of making things. I had stopped believing in myself, in an alternative way of living, in lightness and playfulness and silliness.
Things were very, very wrong because I had stopped caring about what was important to me (creativity, fun, play, artistic pursuits, spirituality) and began caring too much about things I didn’t really care about that much (making sure we don’t go over budget on projects, meetings deadlines, writing briefs, creating cost estimates, ordering recycling bags, paying bills and credit cards – all the serious grown-up stuff).
Finding my way back to Julia Cameron’s philosophy and tools brought back my clarity and reset my priorities. I wasn’t lost. I had been swimming against my desires and needs. I had disconnected myself from the creative source. It was time to reclaim what was mine.
The next day I bought a beautiful leather-bound notebook and wrote my morning pages on the bus between stops. I immediately felt the power of this tool, this direct line to God, and its uplifting side effects. That evening, before going to sleep I meditated. The next day I woke up earlier and wrote my morning pages again. My mood lifted higher. I started looking for artist dates ideas. I called a friend to let her know about my breakthrough. I could finally feel my power returning as if I had been put on a Universal vitality drip. I was successfully fighting my way back to myself.
Growing up in a co-dependant family with an alcoholic father, I was never going to be easily fixed. A long process unspooled in front of me. The work I had began during The Love Project had barely scratched the surface. I still had thousands of morning pages to write. I still had hundreds of artist dates to go to. I still had many, many days of doubt, fear and uncertainty in front of me. But I knew that was ok. Because it takes one step at the time to build a brave heart.