Being True to Yourself
How can I be true to myself and maintain my sense of self and still be in a relationship with the other. And when I say the ‘other’, I mean parent, older children, wider family, friends or partner! This is my dilemma. If I am truthful with myself its always been my dilemma and the reason I bring it here is because I feel it is an essential component of self care. The more I read and discuss with others, I see that it is a struggle for us all. When do the other’s needs become more important than our own? Sometimes, often or never? How do I care for my own needs but also respond to the needs of those around me. I go to the material to see where it takes me.
One of the key components of self care is finding time every day to care for oneself. This is often as small or as large a gesture as the day can take. It can be as small as making yourself a hot bowl of porridge on a winter’s morning to signing up for an exercise class. Self care, when I’m the confines of my own house and looking after only my schedule, seems possible. Yet… we live in a social, highly interactive world. Family members, friends and partners demand our time and attention on an ongoing basis. For me, this time together with the ones I love is so rich and meaningful and the place of great expansion. Yet, there are times when their demands, their needs seem to take over my life, and finding a balance of myself and the other becomes increasingly difficult.
I start off by choosing a relatively narrow warp, about 10.5 cm. This space of friction does not feel like a broad expanse, but rather like a narrow ridge that I attempting to negotiate. I chose my colours of pinks and various red, as if the contrast in colours may indeed provide a feel for the contrast in mine and the others need. Yet, as I start looking for wool, I cant help being attracted to various shades of green. I seem to be finding such healing the the colour green lately that perhaps I am looking for some peace in this dialogue with myself.
I chose a rather interesting weave that I have seen in the past, and has always intrigued me. One one side of the weave I chose a dark, bottle green, and this may well remain consistent. On the other side, a variety of shades of green, perhaps reflecting the multitude of those people in my life. Each colour never rarely a full weft, or line of weave. Instead, they meet somewhere on the weave, interweave with the opposite wool once or many times and return back to their own sides. The wools, acting like me and those I interact with, come together, merge, and then always return. Somewhere in the interaction of the pattern, the dialogue can take place.
Its always interesting to watch my behaviour as I make a piece. While this remains on my working table, I avoid progressing my weaving. There is always something else to do. Some thing more important, some job I’ve forgotten to do. I’m resisting! These ideas of who we are, where are boundaries are, how we love, and how much we love, they all swirl around in my mind. I feel uncomfortable with all these questions, all this not knowing. It is like I am trying to do everything I can make things certain, make things concrete. Neatly pack things up and put things away. But life just doesn’t seem to work like that.
As I move back and forward, I begin to wonder a world where I am overwhelmed. these are the days when I feel I am rushing around, having made too many commitments and too many ‘yeses’ just trying to keep everyone happy. On the right hand side of the weave, the pattern becomes busy, with different shades of green all intermingled together. Each thread continues to ‘tug’ on me and I feel as though I am disappearing, taking up less and less of the pattern. This just doesn’t dit right. So what do I do…
I go to the opposite. Ever notice that tendency in yourself. When something if ‘off’ we can often jump into the total opposite, rather than simply restoring to the middle or to balance. So I weave my dark green thread completely to the right hand side, I take ownership of these lines. Yet I have to challenge myself – do this actually feel better. When we become overly gregarious, and perhaps too social, is building a cave and retreating always the best answer? I notice that this is my pattern, stay in, take stock yet quickly start making new commitments again. If I am struggling with these questions, how could I give all this to the material, to the wool, and see how the weave feels if I begin to play.
I cannot underestimate the role of play in developing our own sense of wellbeing. It is through play that we can become imaginative, try out different scenarios. We can try something, see if in works. And if it doesn’t, we can tailor it or try something else. It doesn’t always have to be a battle and a war with our inner selves.
What happened next could never have been expected! Covid 19 struck our island and society as we know it shut down. This ended up being a highly creative time for me, yet I simply couldn’t go near this piece. Every day it rested in my studio, looking for attention, yet I had nothing to give it. Three months went by, and in that time I had such long periods of solitude. All those ‘expectations’ I wrote about previously in this blog, dissolved. It took a lockdown, a shutdown of this society, to stop me running, chasing and promising. Yet, of course, this did not last forever.
After three months, I returned. I didn’t know where to start again. When these huge events happen in our lives, what is it that we expect afterwards. A common thing to say is “I just want things to return to normal”, yet when we are in “normal”, we seem to have such huge desires to change – ourselves, things in our lives, what is happening to us. There were aspects from pre-Covid living that I simply didn’t want to return to, yet with each day as lockdown lifted, I simply felt like I was slipping back into old patterns. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I started with the material.
The two wools were continuing to flow back and forward along the weave, meeting and then returning. Yet, I started taking this meeting, this interlacing off the weave and into the air. I would ignore more and more of the warp, not tying in the wools behind the white vertical threads, but lifting the wools up and away. When they did join in the air, they were felt more free. The piece, which started with a simply 3 dimension aspect of a line of interlacing moving slowly up the weave, began to create a larger raised mound. The piece was starting to take its own shape.
It started getting a bit messy, the pattern became more and more interrupted. Yet I felt that was exactly what needed to happen. things loosen up and I’m better able to reflect.
After a while, I decide to bring the wools back into the piece, and things get interesting! the piece changes its form a bit. The wools feel unsteady, like the taking of the weave off the warp has unsettled the structure. The tension seems to be a key component of the making, and so I think about the tensions that exist in caring for self and others.
Where is the tension? What does it feel like? Where in the body is it? These are all great questions to ask when attempting to become more aware of yourself. For me, I notice that the tension lies in the feeling of resentment. Its like a feedback loop for me. When I start feeling resentment I know I’ve gone too far. Said yes to too many things. I’ve become too busy for my comfort zone. This is a great start and I start to notice more and more when I’m feeling in a flow, and when I feel resentment. The material is showing me the way.
Yet, as often happens, one day something shifted. Does anyone really know where acceptance comes from? Why does the way we think about things change? Is it a switch in our thinking, the change of our mood, a shift in our environment, a certain planetary alignment – who knows! Do we need to know?
I returned to the material and the pattern had changed. It shifted from back and forward, push and pull, and turned into something consistent. I would take both wools and thread them equally on both sides: under five threads to the left and over five threads to the right. there was stability in the relationship and this felt really good. It seemed that everything had its place again. I stood my ground and they stood theirs. I wondered where this ‘holding ground’ would end?
In process: I’m still on this Journey…