Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Moment To Breathe

(This is a very different post from the kind I usually put here, and it feels a bit scary to make myself this vulnerable, both about loss and about how important knitting really is to me. But you know what? I'm going to see how it goes.)

My wonderful husband is home from his trip. My daughter is sleeping, DH is doing stories with the boys, so I've got a moment here. I've got BYOB sitting here next to me, but I'm in a pondering mode right now. I'll knit in a moment.

I've been reading a bunch of the Yarn Harlot's books. As I wrote, I went to hear her speak. Because I wanted to support the bookstore that brought her to the area, I bought her latest book. Because I have a problem with self-control when it comes to books, I bought a few other books as well, all of which she graciously signed for me (poor thing, she's pretty fried).

I really have enjoyed them - both for the humor and for the philosophy. I was a philosophy major in college, I have a masters in counseling and ph.d. in counseling psychology, and I'm a licensed psychologist, so I think you could say that I appreciate the power of the examined life, eh? Yes. I've been thinking about how much I *love* the craft work that I do, and she helped me articulate part of it.

I've never really considered myself creative, which is sort of funny because I'm one of those singing, acting, violin-playing, photo-taking geeks. I always felt that I was an interpretor, not a creator, because most of what I do is interpretation of someone else's creativity - someone else's words, or music, or pattern. But SPM makes a distinction between creativity and creation, and that just jumped off the page for me. I *love* the act of creation. When I did theater, I loved building sets and costumes, hanging lights, creating a show. I *love* that when I'm doing my knitting or crocheting (or, in the past, counted cross stitch and other needlework which I don't do right now because tiny stabby needles and little kids don't mix all that well), I'm *making* something that wasn't there. I suppose that's true of kids as well. :) I've made three of 'em, so I must enjoy something more than the process of creating them.

This realization moved me, and felt...healing, really. I'm one of those women who's suffered from what I call "fraud symdrome." I'm pretty comfortable with who I am these days, thanks to some really good therapy, but I was someone who really believed that there was this huge discrepency between the person the world saw (and seemed to approve of), and who I really was inside, and that the insides weren't acceptable, on a basic level. I don't feel that way anymore (most of the time), but something about claiming the label of being "creative" jarred some of those old feelings. "You're not really creative" my (not so nice) inner-self would say when someone would compliment me on the thing I'd made, "any trained monkey could do the same." Well, perhaps that's true, though I don't think monkeys generally have access to nice yarn, but it's not really relevant.

What's relevant to me is that the act of creating is CREATIVE. I know, it seems sort of self-evident, but it feels huge to me. The act of doing something, and getting better and better at it, while understanding how much there is to learn is powerful. When I'm wearing socks that I made for myself, I feel not just a sense of competency, but I feel taken care of. When I give someone something I've made, I'm not just giving them the thing, I'm giving my time and my love. The fact that non-crafters don't always really understand that doesn't make it any less true.

My knitting is tied to the friendships I lost some time ago. We knit together. One friend gave me a knitting kit that I still use pretty much every time I knit. I'm often reminded of these women, though now it's more with a sense of wishing them well (because spiritually, it's better for me) than the ache I felt for a long time. I'm glad that I didn't let the pain of thse losses (and the pain those losses caused my son, which was huge, and in some ways more painful to me than my own loss) sour me on the knitting just because it was something that had bound us together. I think losing my love of knitting would cost me more than losing those friendships did. Since then, I've made new friends through knitting (and in other ways too), I've connected strongly with other friends I already had around crafting and the act of creating, and perhaps most importantly, I've committed more strongly to my own identity and self through knitting. I was too dependent on those friends, and I feel like from that loss, I've gained a much stronger core. It's not that I don't have wonderful friends now that I love and care for, and depend on, but I now know I can lose friends and be okay. It wasn't something that had really happened to me before, and it really left me reeling for a while.

Knitting has helped me become stronger, more independent, less perfectionistic, more courageous. I'm learning to be nicer to myself, and more generous and giving to others. It's given me some gorgeous socks, hats, blankets, gifts for others, and perhaps someday, a sweater, if I get that brave. That's a lot to get from some sticks and string.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Thank you for writing this -- A lot of it really resonates with me.