Even if I get positive feedback on my creations that still doesn’t stop me from freezing up next time and having that moment when I decide I can’t possibly write one more post. It’s not in me. I have nothing of interest to say. I nearly give up on an art project or ignore an urge to make something new. I decide I have nothing to make. I have no creative spark.
Is this a function of my new brain? I think back to before Dave died and I remember that in my job, my brain was a fountain of creativity, even if I doubted myself. Dreaming up new ways to teach old material, analogies to explain complicated concepts, ways to rearrange the classroom, manage discipline, communicate with parents, show my students how much they meant to me, decorating the classroom, celebrating successes.
Not now, though. Creating is very different now. I come up to a wall every time I try to create. The wall is doubt, fear, and over thinking. The part of my brain that is responsible for creativity has maybe shrunken or gone offline and the part responsible for worrying about the bad things that could happen has become very dominant.
I’m very much hoping that it’s like a muscle. If I stop using it, it will atrophy. If I use it more it will grow in strength. They say this is true and I will believe it because the alternative is too depressing. Getting past that wall is the ultimate challenge though. The wall says “Who are you to think you have anything to offer the world?” The wall says “This is not possible for you. You are not capable of this. Leave it to someone who is”.
Why is it that after I have created, put it out there, realized that the world didn’t end and I’m even proud of my work, I go right back to that wall of doubt the next time I create?
I bet it works like this. I am fundamentally different since Dave died. I have been changed. My brain is still recovering. My heart is still very delicately patched together and trembling. I’m still shaken and beaten up by the heartache. Because of this, my brain does not work like it used to so my output is not as it used to be. I doubt myself because of this and the doubt builds up, keeping me from creating more. I create less and I get rusty. That part of my brain atrophies. The cycle repeats.
Right now, getting past this feels like pushing myself. It doesn’t feel satisfying. It feels frustrating and it makes me feel small and weak. I’m a small, slight force against a strong brick wall. I’m not seeing a whole lot of progress.
But that’s how these last few years have felt. It’s only upon looking back that I see that I did make progress. Breaking through to the other side, victoriously, and shaking off all the stiffness that held me prisoner is not how it will happen. It will happen one small, staggering step at a time. Each step will feel wholly insignificant. Negligible.
And maybe with my former brain and former life, they would have been, but now they are mighty. They have been done even with the back-bending weight of grief with me. They have been accomplished even while wanting to hide in my room until death came for me too. I have to come back again and again to the definition of courage. It’s not doing something you’re not afraid of. It’s doing something you’re terrified of. It’s doing it.