Suddenly I’ve realized, I have friends. It’s not like I’ve never had friends before, I just haven’t had any for a long time. Not since getting divorced about six years ago, when I changed so much that most of the relationships I had no longer worked.
And the thing that made me realize that the people I now call my friends are really friends, is that I know I can be honest with them and I trust them. I don’t have to hide who I really am. This was not something I could do in the past. I was afraid to be honest, afraid not to be agreeable, I was so desperate to be liked. So desperate for community, I was afraid to do or say anything that might jeopardize it.
I grew up in a family where we didn’t speak honestly to each other. There were so many unspoken rules about what could and couldn’t be said. And often, being honest about how I was feeling or what I thought turned into arguments or left me thinking there was something wrong with me for feeling the way I did. So, I learned to say (and not say) and behave in a way that was accepted and expected. I did this within my family and not knowing any other way to behave, I did it also with the relationships outside of my family. I didn’t trust people to like me for who I was, so I became who I thought they wanted me to be.
This issue of authenticity has affected my art. It is difficult to be honest in my work if I am fearful of disagreement or disapproval. Fear of honesty works its way into all aspects of my life. I’m continually working on being more honest with all people as well as my friends, and I am also learning to be more honest in my work.
This means me making something without worrying if it will sell or not, or being overly concerned about other people’s reaction to it. But making it because it’s what I need to make, it’s something I need to express. A few weeks ago I made a wall hanging from a dream with an alligator and a Thunderbird. I got hardly any feed back on it at all and to me it was very meaningful and I loved the way it came out. I sold it at the Open House to Jennifer who was really moved by it and said that a lot of people have trouble with alligators. I have another alligator piece in me that needs to come out. I think in the past I might have just forgotten about it, knowing it probably won’t be well received. But I think that’s the same as not saying how I feel because I’m afraid of how someone might react to it.
Honesty is leading me down a new path. One that strengthens my sense of self and connects me to the people who aren’t afraid to hear my thoughts and ideas and like me for who I am.