Writing 101 Day 7: Give and Take, A Dialogue

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.
Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue.

I just saw a movie about Multiple Personalities, (Frankie and Alice, 2010), so it sort of got me going… Everyone feels kind of crazy dealing with the people inside them now and then…

My Current Problem, Solved by a sort of fight:

Me: I don’t know what I want to do anymore. I like drawing. I like sewing. I can find art made by other people I want to copy, but I can’t seem to find what I want to do. This never happened before.

Art: Fuck you. You’re a fucking artist. Stop making lame excuses. It’s not about words. It’s about doing it. Remember what DeCredico said, “Drawing is making marks on paper.”

Me: I can’t find something. I usually find some kind of world that I control. It first finds me, then it tells me what I can use and what the limits are, the conditions, but it’s not a cage; usually it frees me to follow it, and it makes sense without any explanations. There’s a direction to go in, particular materials to use, sometimes very few, just black pen and paper, other times, lots of different materials that get put together. It’s like finding a recipe, but you don’t have to follow it exactly. You can’t mess it up or burn it because it’s not food.”

Art: that sounds like a bunch of bullshit. You just pick up whatever is nearby and handy and do something. It’s actions, not reactions. You’re not in control. What kidn of hypocrite you are. You help people make messes but you fight your own mess. You tell people to be nice to themselves but you’re kind of an asshole. No wonder she doesn’t know what to do. Let her figure it out.

ME: but who’s her. Who is she? ISn’t she me?

Art: she’s the you that you’re trapping up and locking up. Stop caging her. You’re the one who’s acting crazy. She just wants to make stuff. She doesn’t care what it is and she likes it because it’s there. You wouldn’t have a baby and then try to put it back! You’re fucked up. Get the fuck out of her way. You’re standing in the way. She needs to get through.

Me: I think I lost something I had all these years. I don’t trust anymore.

Art: Well stop wasting time. You’re going to die just like everyone else. You don’t really know when. Get the hell out of her way. You’re going to strangle her. She can’t breathe. You’re blocking the light. She can’t see. She’ll draw anyway even in the dark. Stop taking stuff from her. Just leave her alone. Shut up. You’re making too much noise. She can’t focus with all your words and noise. And stop choking her. Just shut the fuck up already, asshole! Usually you leave her alone. I don’t know or care why you’re taking up so much space and blocking her light and pushing her under a table. Just go away. She can draw under the table. She can draw in the corner. She just needs you to get out.

Me: Ok. I guess I’m not wanted here. I’m leaving. Goodbye.
Art: Good. Now she’s free to come out. It’s ok. She’s gone. She was crazy and it was smart of you to hide, but I got her out of here. She can’t do anything to you now. There’s nothing to be afraid of. You’re ok. Here’s some stuff. Go ahead. Make anything you want…

Her: Ok. Thank you. I will.

Multiple Blog Topic Disorder!

I have so many ideas and so many different topics I am thinking about and wanting to blog about my head is spinning! This happens to me in other areas of life, like my art making: Suddenly presented with even 20 minutes (which is a ton of time to have to myself these days) in my studio I have to make a quick decision as to whether to start something new, work on my graphic novel, get back to my big huge project, do another weird mixed media thing that is newish, or pick up a piece and keep working on it, or just chill out and do a collage in my journal. In a case like this, luckily being alone and in my studio, I just go for it and usually just do what feels easiest. If I am at my home and have a very rare opportunity of being alone with a million choices and a few hours time, I am extra challenged. Either I try to do a little of everything, or force myself to just clean some area or do what I did yesterday: I had a book I wanted to read and just sat on the couch reading that book for several hours. That was relaxing for me. No noise whatsoever, no need to look around at the chaotic apartment or be distracted by other things, just focusing on a fascinating riveting book I was learning something every page.

So I could blog about that book or topics related to it. But I have so many topics buzzing in my brain. In no particular order:
1. choose the easy way out and find a cool cultural ritual to discuss and celebrate.
2. pick something to add to the series I’m doing on society’s view of mental illness and separating fact from fiction
3. Mindfulness and how it is used in therapy and everyday life, prescription for any human suffering from anything or avoiding suffering
4. Basic fundamental of the idea of DBT, the dialectic between acceptance and change…
5. Self worth, liking yourself, self esteem, self love, whatever you want to call it and why it is so difficult to deal with in oneself and others and as a therapist as all patients seem to share this issue…
6. Importance of validation for parents
7. Trauma, a million topics emerge from just that word!
8. A holistic view of what “Recovery” means and how it can be empowered and person centered…
9. Borderline Personality Disorder, the hush that still surrounds it, despelling myths
10. many things you might share wtih someone with Borderline Personality Disorder even though you don’t have it, so why does everyone get so angry at even the name of it and why did people argue about it not existing and not being correct to put it in the DSM5 or changing the wording…
11. 9/11 is creeping up on us downtown New Yorkers, what ghosts still lurk down here and in our psyche and collective psyche as humans?
12. All healing boils down to finding balance, following the “Middle Path”. Why is this so incredibly hard to do???
13. Body image again: how can someone say that their low self worth has nothing to do with their body. Liking yourself starts with liking the form that you are in as a person, your shape and size, the inside of your body, things your body does, things you don’t know it does, what you do to it, put in it, stimulate it with, relax it with, soothe it with etc. what is the definition of negative and positive body image? If our own culture is any sign of our relationship with our body, we Americans have a very distorted image about what a body is and a lot of preoccupation with what shape and size it is and what kind of outside appearance we have, and obsession with food, nutrition, good eating, bad eating, dieting, fasting, extremes and middle grounds, feeding our babies and kids, etc. When you think about that, you have to really look at yourself and see how much you unconsciously on a daily basis participate in these fixations…
14. making assumptions about people too quickly. Learning to go back to the child’s curiosity and scientific investigation of everything you encounter through every one of your senses…
15. I can’t end at 14 as I have a crazy preoccupation with odd numbers. For alarms to wake up I have to set the time at an odd number, 8:01, not 8 for example, so I can’t end this post with only 14 topics. I guess the 15th is also about indeciciveness and making choices.
16. Uh oh I just remembered another. Noticing in your relationships with others, do you have some conflicts that could just be reduced to having totally opposing types of coping skills? This is so common in couples as opposites do attract.
17. “Look before you leap” versus “He who hesitates is lost.” The dilemma of the extremes around decision making and reactivity, ie. the person who spends too much time with a pros and cons list versus the person who can’t tolerate being in the “I can’t decide, I don’t know” zone and goes in the direction of acting on impulses and quickly…
18. The use of dollmaking in art therapy.
19. Systems theory explained simply: we all have many parts inside ourselves and we can get to know them better to help them work together. Often extreme crisis, even psychosis happens when all your parts of your psyche are at war or shouting at you at once. Hearing voices could be related to hearing from your parts… (look at “The Beautiful Mind” as example.)

Ok. I am sure I have a hundred more topics but at least I got some of them out there as things I want to investigate. Usually I veer towards making decisions too quickly, but I guess blog writing is helping me slow down, notice my mind’s chaos and speed and curiosity, wanting to connect many ideas and actually having a hard time making a decision!

Poetry Therapy and Inner Dialoguing as Therapy

This is a short post on a topic I of course want to explore further.

I have always enjoyed poetry in different ways. During school years I liked to read Shakespearian sonnets and poetry in French as well as English poetry such as Wordsworth and Blake. I also liked writing poems as a high school student. They were pretty typical “dark” teenage poems. In college, I read Russian poetry in the original and got into the “Beat” poets and postmodern poetry. I wrote more poems back then and then stopped writing poetry for a long time, I’m not even sure if I stopped altogether until just recently.

Anyway, I have been doing “poetry therapy” as “art therapy” with a patient and enjoying it quite a lot. It has resulted in me writing more poetry for the first time in years and having fun doing it… It is fun to have a session with a poet and come upon “poems” from the material that arises in the session. There is a sudden invitation to “write a poem about that”. At first I listened to poems by my patient and encouraged poetry writing but did not write any. Then after a few months in April I just naturally started responding to this patient’s poetry with poems of my own and launched myself into writing poetry again. I’ve been writing poems with my patient in sessions ever since and then started sporadically writing my own poetry, which is certainly different from any kind of poetry I’ve ever written. I think when I was much younger I was more conscious of the words I used and the rythm and imagery, metaphor, symbolic language, etc.

The poems I’ve been writing have been very “plain” talk language types of poems, although I wrote one I really liked a while ago called “Invitation to Awaken” that seemed more “elevated” and “poetic”, whatever that means…

I don’t claim to be a poetry therapist, but it is fun to use poetry in the therapy session and have a kind of back and forth call and response that naturally flows from the session and the relationship between me and a patient.

Another thing I’m getting back into that is slightly related is suggesting dialogues for journaling with the object of working on self acceptance and recognizing ambivalence or conflict within the self but not fighting it. For example, if you say, “I want to write poetry but I am blocked and can’t get myself to do it. I fight and push myself but nothing comes…” the dialogue would involve having the Inner Poet talk to the Blocked Poet and have a conversation. Another example, “Part of me wants to have children and part of me is afraid of losing myself and feels selfish…” This invites the Inner Future Mom to have a conversation with the Not Mother self and see what arises.

This dialoguing is also good for people who complain about their impulsivity in any area and desire to control themselves. The “Impulsive” Self may have a lot to teach the “Control/Principal/Judge/Cop” self. If the impulsive out of control self is allowed to have a voice and be recognized, there may be a lot of great creative energy that could be harnessed from this part of oneself and focused into something positive. The Controller could be enlisted to help the Impulsive Self (now Creative Self) to work together and thus the person can recognize that s/he needs and can use both conflicting sides and integrate them so s/he is not feeling pulled from extremes of perfection and self control to total chaos and impulsive acting out…

This is an example of how to transform one’s own energy, the dark and the light and harness it and direct it towards healing and creative purposes as well as “radical self-acceptance”, ie. completely receiving all parts of oneself and embracing them all, not unlike Rumi’s Guest House poem which I have posted on this blog.

Here’s an edited version of a poem started on 6/13/13 and continued the other day and then changed just now, that is related to this issue people struggle with around perfection/control/judgment and chaos/freedom/letting go of control:


I was walking down the street the other day

and saw an index card on the sidewalk 

that said “Messy”.

That was for me of course!

I picked it up and carried it around in my

messy handbag.

Today I lost my messy card.

Then I found it again but I forgot where.

I glued it into my messy art journal.

Life is messy. The imagination is messy.

The word mess used to mean food.

We need to be fed by our messes

and enjoy them !