Self-sabotage is a very real danger on the road to recovery. Julia warns, “A common form for this sabotage is showing someone our morning pages. Remember, the morning pages are private and are not intended for the scrutiny of well-meaning friends. One newly unblocked writer showed his morning pages to a friend who was still blocked. When she critiqued them, he blocked again. Do not let your self-doubt turn into self-sabotage.”
And speaking of well-meaning friends, things may begin to shift in your relationships. This is very normal, but it can be pretty challenging. Just like the recovering alcoholic may discover that her friendships are going to be radically different if many of them were based on getting loaded together, our recovering artist self may be forced to think about the extent to which some of our friends, even partners, support or harm our creative aspirations.
Julia explains, “Creativity flourishes when we have a sense of safety and self-acceptance. Your artist, like a small child, is happiest when feeling a sense of security.. As our artist’s protective parent, we must learn to place our artist with safe companions. Toxic playmates can capsize our artist’s growth.
“Not surprisingly, the most poisonous playmates for us as recovering creatives are people whose creativity is still blocked. Our recovery threatens them…
“Do not expect your blocked friends to applaud your recovery. That’s like expecting your best friends from the bar to celebrate your sobriety. How can they, when their own drinking is something they want to hold on to?”
When I first read this, I remember nodding sagely and considering the people that I might expect to look askance at my tender, baby artist self. In some cases, I was right. But there were other, really good friends (I thought!), that I was not expecting, and this was pretty tough. In my experience, we may not always know which ones of our close acquaintances and friends are secretly blocked. But they can be just as toxic, maybe even more so, because we trust them and might not know about their conflicted issues.
So beware of seemingly well-meaning expressions of doubt and “reality checks” meant to “help” you. And if you get feedback that you are becoming selfish, tunnel-visioned, or just “different” (but obviously, not in a way that they like), remember that these are what Julia calls “red-alert words…attempts to leverage us back into our old ways for the sake of [their] comfort, not our own.”
Tomorrow, we’ll take a closer look at ways we can safeguard our budding artist self.