Friday, March 28, 2008

Opening Up Too Much

I just got back from my therapy session. I have mixed feelings about how it went and how much I opened myself up to Dr. X.

All day yesterday and last night I was so excited about the paintings I had done, so last night I really wanted to share my joy with Dr. X. This morning I awoke with a feeling of shame, or impending doom about my art and sharing it with my pdoc. I wrapped the paintings up and put them in my truck anyways, so I at least had the option to decide once I got to his office.

I've been trying to figure out why I felt ashamed, or feared embarrassment, or was afraid of (hidden) criticism, or had a sense of doom around sharing my pictures, when yesterday I was so really excited and happy to share them with everyone at the studio.

I think one reason is that what he thinks about me matters more to me than what others think about me. This is a strange dynamic. I think partly it has to do with him being a man. Maybe also as a man I project my father onto him. My father would be the only other person from whom I would fear criticism, or a negative reaction.

Dr. X. is probably the exact opposite of my father in terms of personality, temperament and reactions to me, but because he is in a position of power, because I (still) have difficulty trusting the authenticity of his reactions to me, because I sense a big part of his job, and therefore his relationship with me, is to judge me (to judge my wellness, my personality, my pathology, etc.), I feel fearful, that while outwardly he is accepting me, inwardly he just thinks I'm a complete loser. A failure as a human being.

There is absolutely nothing that Dr. X. has ever done that would lead me to believe he feels like this. He is consistently supportive, kind, caring and warm, but the feeling and fear still lurks in me for some reason. I try really hard to overcome that fear. Today I did bring my paintings in for him to see to with that goal in mind, but as I showed him I had a sinking feeling. I talked with him about it, but I couldn't really express why I was feeling that way. I still am having a hard time explaining it.

On top of sharing my paintings, I also shared my blog address with him. Part of me thinks it would be great if he could read what I blog about, because I seem to be able to be more open and articulate here because I have had a chance to digest how I feel.

The other part of me fears that I have left myself too open on this blog; that I am opening myself up for judgement. Giving him my blog address is in effect challenging that fear; understanding that I have left myself open and vulnerable to judgement, yet pushing myself to do that anyways. Maybe the more I allow that to happen, the more I will be able to overcome those fears.


James said...

I am so sensitive about my art as well. Art is such a personal expression of what is deep within us and to just show that to basic strangers is very scary.

Especially for those of us who have a general social anxiety anyway. I have never shown my work around to different galleries for fear of rejection and down-right laughter of dismissal.

And yet everyone tells me that the only way I can advance my art career is to put myself out there like that. Everyone tells me that my art is excellent but I have and have always had terrible self-confidence.

I have finally come to a place where I DO like my art but I'm still afraid to show it widely.

To my defense though I have gotten some really uncomfortable reactions from people who see my art who live in this stuffy town.

There are many who become uncomfortable because it seems too "weird" to them or they feel awkward when I mention the mental illness symbolism in much of it.

There are many you say they like my work but then never buy a print. I put a lot of my self-worth into my art rightly or wrongly and so I am just crushed when people like it but not enough to buy a print.

Aqua said...

Hi James,
Thanks for your insight. Your comment, "I put a lot of my self-worth into my art" really resonated with me.

I only recently began painting, but I have done a lot of creative writing over the years. I value that artistic side of myself so much that when I was asked to teach a creative writing course at the art clubhouse I belong to I felt sick.

I was so afraid that I would be laughed at, or embarrased, or that someone would devalue that part of me that I see IS me that I simply could not teach the course no matter how much I wanted to. If someone had criticized my work, I am sure I would have never written again.