A Bad Relationship that Inspired so Much More
When I was younger I was so much more creative than I am today. Part of the reason for that creativity was that I had no other outlets: no child, no wife, no responsibilities beyond my own amusement. As a result I would wake up some days boiling over with ideas for new paintings and pen and inks. I would rush from my bed to sketch out the ideas that had percolated in my mind overnight and filled up every notebook, sketchbook, and scrap of paper that I could find. Then I went to college and started dating the Wild One.
We had been friends since we were 15 and had been off and on competitors, but when we got to college we started dating and screwing all the time. That was all fine and dandy, but the thing about the Wild One is that she had incredibly low self-esteem. And at some point she convinced herself that I wasn't creative at all. I suppose she thought that all of the art I did in school with her was simply derivative of other works - even when I was doing things that I had never encountered before - especially the works that won awards ahead of her own. It was around that time that she started saying little things meant to undermine my own confidence and self-reliance.
What she said worked. I lost my confidence and stopped drawing. - Now it didn't all happen at once, but over the course of three years. The sketches that I would draw were stupid. My finished drawings were always incomplete, my writing was lackluster, and my paintings were always muddied and without definition. I should have told her to go fuck herself. I should have pushed her out of my life, but instead I convinced myself that I loved her and that the things she said were told to me for my benefit.
In short I had my head so firmly up my own ass that I let her do all that to me.
It got so bad that at one point I actually thought about killing myself. Hell, I was standing on the desk with half my body hanging out a seventh floor window in the pouring rain about to take the plunge when I got a call from a good friend of mine who wanted to get a bite to eat and stopped me from jumping (not to be funny or anything but it wasn't the first time that Chinese food saved my life and it won't be the last I'm sure)!
The wild thing about all of this is that I was, and am, a smarter person than her in many ways. I am far better in interpersonal relationships. I have a better grasp of art, music, history, and literature. I could, at that time, speak two languages. I had a better grade point average and only went to class on test days. Hell, I was able to speak politics with the Lt. Governor of Tennessee and with State Supreme Court Justices without embarrassing myself! And yet I never once recognized what she was doing to me until the day I wrote a silly little blog that was just funny as hell. It was one of those surveys that come out every so often and I had copied the questions and wrote out these funny lines in response. It made me laugh; it made her laugh. When she asked me where I found it and I told her it was my own she responded, "It can't be, you're not that creative."
I was crushed and after she left I found myself sitting outside my dorm room smoking a cigar and wondering if I shouldn't just give up. I mean, fuck, if the woman who loved me more than anything in the world didn't think I was creative enough to do something so simple what was I doing with my life.
Anyway, after that little incident of self pity and stupidity I soon found myself reading a book that profoundly changed my life: Thus Spake Zarathustra (don't read part four he didn't want it published and it shouldn't have been). The book gets a bad rap because Hitler had a hard on for it. But the book wasn't about killing off people and creating a master race. Instead it was about the procession of generations; our internal and external relationships; our relationships with the now, the past and the future; but more than any of that it was about the commitment to one's self not to allow others to imprint their shit on you and make you feel bad for your strengths.
That last part is what saved me, and it's what has been helping me remold myself into the person I want to be rather than the broken young man she had helped make me into. That strength of thought and iron will that Nietzsche wrote with reverberated down through the years and took hold of me. It pushed me to become a manager, and then a general manager making more money than I had ever dreamed of; and then it pushed me to challenge myself and become more than I ever had been before. It made me realize that I needed to be with someone who wanted to be with me, and that wanted to be more than she was the day before. It has made me into a good father and one that is setting the right example for my son.
Now it drives me to reestablish my creativity in my adulthood. I have formed a group with two of my friends where we will be expressing ourselves creatively through drawing, writing, sculpting, and movie making every week. I'm out of practice in some ways, but this blog is helping my mind percolate again. My hands no longer tremble when I look at a blank page and I'm already beginning to fill up the pages of a long ago abandoned art book.
Who knows where all this will lead, certainly not me; but it is a step in the right direction.