Accepting imperfections and metaphors for recovery


Jewellery-making and Recovery

Hello, me again.  Sorry about that.  How are you?  Personally, i'm all about the metaphors.

All right, not the neatest of segues there.  But in this blog post, i want to draw for you just a few of the (many) parallels between art therapy such as jewellery-making and the path to recovery from eating disorders and other, similar conditions.

Throughout both processes, things like creativity, perseverance, knockbacks, patience and a good few surprises are par for the course.

Probably the most obvious aspect of any art/craft is the use of creativity - you form an idea, choose the colours, put the pieces together, that sort of thing.  When i first started, i'd also have an idea in my mind of what the finished piece would look like; but actually, while i can't speak for anyone else of course, i've found the whole process a lot more gradual, organic and frankly unpredictable than that.  When making, for example, a bracelet, i'll pick out various colours and a 'centre piece' bead, but i have a tendency to pick out far too many and want to put ALL THE THINGS on one piece (yeah, i'm a binger) so, ultimately, i'll have to take half of them off again and it ends up looking thoroughly different  from what i'd expected.

As a result, i'm slowly learning to hold my expectations in check - which is a good metaphor for recovery and indeed for life, don't you think?

Similarly, when something in the journey towards recovery seems very difficult, or doesn't work out how we might expect, we'd often do well to look for creative ways of getting around or working through 'triggers' or problem situations, or whatever it is.  Especially at this time of year, when a lot of us find it incredibly hard to be around all that festive, er, spirit... sometimes all it takes is adding (or, um, removing) a bead of another colour - which is in fact a fearsomely clever way (or just me labouring the point) of saying "trying something new" according to the specifics of the situation - to make an unexpected and welcome difference.

Of course, knockbacks and perseverance are key.  We all have days, don't we, when we just have no inspiration, nothing looks right and it all seems a bit pointless.  Or perhaps, having just made something 'perfect', we might distractedly let go of one end and ttssshh! - the bloody thing goes all over the floor.  Oh, the number of times this has happened to me, both in the workshop and in LIFE, is not even funny!  Well, till afterwards (and possibly after a good deal of swearing - ahem, my apologies to the other Sweet Cavanagh ladies) when perspective returns and we realise the world has not ended.  We may have invested enormous emotional energy into something, but with patience we can rebuild whatever it was and, oh look, that's turned out really nicely too.

Less obviously, but related to all the above, trust or faith play a large part.  Trusting is essential for a complete, fulfilled life, but very difficult for a lot of us, for various reasons.  We need to be able to trust in other people, in our ourselves/our own ability - and just in the future, such as that something, be it a piece of jewellery or a situation in our lives, will turn out well.  As i've started to trust in that more and more, i've found that dropping the beads all over the floor may still drive me to strings of expletives (no pun intended - i certainly hope the pieces i've made don't look as obscene as my language) but i get over it increasingly quickly and life is a lot more peaceful as a result - not least for the others sitting nearby!

Trusting in our own ability is of course linked to self-esteem, which as i mentioned last time is a core aspect of Sweet Cavanagh's mission statement.  I've certainly noticed this increasing, both within myself and among others in the workshop, as as we make things we like and then discover others like them too.  In fact this is one of the things i meant when i said there are surprises along the way.  Quite a few times now i've spotted something and thought, oh that's pretty; who made that?  Then i've realised, with a smile: it was me!  It can be difficult not to feel a bit self-congratulatory when that happens, but actually, why shouldn't we appreciate what we've made - that we CAN have faith in our own ability?  Isn't that a fundamental part of a successful life?

There are plenty more metaphors for making jewellery and for recovery from eating disorders and addictions that i could paint here, but let's just end with this blog itself.  I wanted to put all this in my last post - brevity really is not my strong point - and like trying to put too many beads on a piece of jewellery, i had to take this much off and save it for later.  There's a whole lot more i want to say and even more i'm sure i've forgotten, plus i really want to go over and polish up perceived imperfections... so without further ado: bye!


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