Friday, May 20, 2011

Are my insides really ugly? (Don't answer that!)

In the spirit of continuing to explore my insides and share it with others, I'm sharing what I wrote in class the other day.  I was hesitant to read this in class, but I noticed when I did that, no one was unkind.  I don't know how they felt hearing it, but they listened with acute attention which made me think they wanted to hear it.  It was strange for me to share so deeply with virtual strangers.  And now I'm sharing with you.  Where will this lead????

The prompt in class was "What I want to write about".  The answer that spurted out was the following:

the ugly stuff that shoves my cranium into tightness and makes me suffer because letting it out might set it free.

So afraid, almost always, to release the ugly, to let it into thin air because I know with deep abiding uncertainty that it's simply too much for anyone to deal with.

Who will they think I am if they know all the pain and suffering and doubt and attempts for perfection I've been through?

Who will they think I am if they see my canvases torn and shredded and warped with heavy paint, brutally applied?  Instead of gently, beautifully, dutifully caressed into being?

Which one is me?  Why do I try to be so perfect?  Why so good?  What if what's underneath is bad and ugly and, gasp, evil?  I don't really think it could be evil.  I actually believe I'm good through to my core - so why the fear of what wants to come out?

Some of it is perhaps ugly.  It is certainly intense.  I've had plenty of feedback that people want me to shut up and stop or clean it up or lessen the intensity or back off or change what I say and how I say it.

Why do you have to paint naked women?  Some of them are so fat.  Do you really think they're beautiful?  Come on.  Really?  I don't believe you.  If you think they're beautiful, if you can accept them, maybe you could accept me and that would be too much to handle.  I can't take complete acceptance.  It's actually painful to have the right to exist exactly how I am.  Who am I kidding?  The pain is intolerable.  Full being?  Full explosion of self? Full undenied expression?

What would it look like?

Hopefully not like the horrific gesticulations of Picasso's women - how could he have such disdain and so little respect?   Is that what unbridled looks like?  Or does it look like me?  Does it look beautiful?  I want to prove it is beautiful, but I'm afraid it's ugly as sin so that's why I'm afraid to go there.

Maybe what's inside of me is so wretchedly ugly and horrific I won't be able to stand it.

But I've been there before - I've been all the way inside and no, it wasn't ugly, it was just painful.  Not ugly.  It hurt.  I cried.  I wept.  I felt the agony.  But even that wasn't ugly - except to people who are more afraid that I was to go there - those are the people I fear - the ones with less courage than I have because they have the words, the powerful enough defenses to down me in a single breath.  One volley and I die.

No.  Not true.  No.  My insides are not evil or ugly or harmful.

Not real writing, that last bit - that's the fake stuff I want it to say.  I don't know what's real at this point - this is where I haven't gone before, or that's how it feels - past the fear and the depths - what's all the way inside?

Joy?  Tears?  ME?  God?  I hope.


  1. Absolutely not ugly. Neither does it have to be beautiful. Sometimes it just IS.

    I find it very reassuring to see the "ugly" struggles and messy insides of others. Seeing other people's messes doesn't bother me in the slightest, only makes them more lovable, and gives me perspective on how normal my own messes are. I hope you won't ever stop sharing!

  2. I'm so glad you shared this, Susan. I think the writing--- and the photographs--- are beautiful.