Your art offers you a way to express your deepest emotions, thoughts, and life experiences. It allows you access and communicate stories that you’d otherwise never tell. It’s almost like you have a creative treasure buried deep in your mind, a place you’d not dare to touch or go to without your art.
Your art is the key that unlocks that treasure, and it also gives you the courage to dive deep.
Through your art you can transform what’s in that treasure box… It gives you the power to change the stories and rework the characters in any way that you want. The story of the survivor with the mysterious secret powers. The story of the hero with a dark side. The story of the villain with a human heart. The story of the lost child who becomes the king and saves the world.
You need that secret part of your mind to tell the stories. When you go there, it feels real and surreal at the same time… You’re also scared of what’s there. That treasure box holds those memories you’re trying not only to make sense of, but also to protect yourself from.
As much as it’s a treasure of creative material, it’s also a dark and dangerous place that controls you in ways you can’t fully understand.
Unhealed Trauma and Its Relationship To Your Creativity
Many artists live with unhealed emotional trauma. Some decide to seek help. Some speak publicly about their challenges. Some even use their own healing journey to encourage other creatives to take the leap and seek help.
And, there are those who feel their creativity is their healing power. Through the art that they create, they can see their painful experiences from a safe place, so they can make sense of them and transform them into healing stories.
There are also the artists who stay silent, trying to cope alone. While some doubt that there’s help, others are just afraid that they’ll lose their creative side and their ability to access that treasure of raw memories and experiences…
Some artists get stuck in a re-traumatizing cycle, telling the same traumatic story over and over again, not allowing themselves to heal or to evolve as humans or as artists. And some get so stuck in their trauma that they’re unable to access their creative or performing energy. Trauma becoming the wall that stays between themselves and their art.
Artists who live with unhealed emotional trauma often feel that life feels too real and too unreal all at once.
Are you one of them? Are you an artist who leaves with unhealed emotional trauma?
If you feel emotional pain that you can’t escape, it may be you. If you feel like a child in an adult world, it may be you. If you feel overwhelmed by shame, insecurities, and fears, it may be you. If your relationships are so dramatic that you can’t find a place for love, support, and comfort, it may be you. If you can’t feel the genuine love of those who care about you, it may be you.
If sometimes you feel out of control, scared, and exposed in a very vulnerable way, you may be coping with unhealed emotional trauma.
Emotional trauma is tricky. It finds a hideout in your mind and it waits there in dark and silence, ready to strike when you least expect. It will make you feel and act in ways you can’t understand or control. It will make you want to ignore it. It will make you want to avoid it. Don’t fall into trauma’s alluring trap. Oftentimes, trauma doesn’t go away unless you face it.
The tendency to try to hide, isolate, and not want to talk about your traumatic experiences is normal. At the same time, the more you avoid these fragmented memories, the more they control you.
What to consider when you’re thinking about getting help with past emotional trauma
There is no easy way to deal with trauma. Trauma can be healed. You can live free. But you need professional help. You need someone who knows how to help you go at your own pace as you peek into the dark places within. You need someone who can give you the emotional tools and strengths to overcome what you see, feel, and experience one step at a time, until the old memory loses power over you.
If you are a creative with emotional trauma that controls and ruins your life, relationships, and your ability to feel happy, you need help. You don’t have to live with pain to be creative.
If trauma doesn’t allow you to access your skills and talents, to be the creative or the performer that you could be, you need help. You don’t have to live with a wall between you and your art.
If you feel that your stories are limited and that you create mainly from that dark place within, you may need help. You don’t have to revisit the same story over and over again. You can have all your life’s rich experiences be your fountain of inspiration.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you decide to reach out for help and address your emotional trauma:
1. This is your unique journey. What works for others may not work for you. Your healing journey is your healing journey. Learn from others, but don’t let them interfere with your journey.
2. If others need to be public about their struggles that doesn’t mean you have to. You can have your private journey. For some, it’s empowering to be open while it feels shaming and re-traumatizing for others. Wait until you have clarity before you decide if you want to share your personal experiences. You’re entitled to your privacy. If it’s going to be helpful to be open about your trauma, you’ll know when it’s the right time. If you don’t feel ready, respect that.
3. If others didn’t heal from trauma it doesn’t mean you won’t. A very small number of people don’t heal, but they still find great relief through the right treatment. Even if they don’t heal completely, most heal well enough to have a great life.
4. Interview a few psychotherapists before you decide who to work with. Remember, Psychotherapy is a powerful and intimate journey. Choose a therapist who feels right for you.
5. If you have some doubts about the Psychotherapy journey, share them with your therapist. Many times, doubts that you have – about your therapist or the therapy process – when discussed openly within the safe therapeutic relationship can allow you to get at the root of emotional trauma and further the healing process.
6. Remember, you are born with an innate power to heal. Your mind will take you where you need to go, on your terms, comfort, and readiness. You are in control of your healing journey. You don’t have to do anything that you’re not ready to. You are in complete control. A good therapist will follow your lead.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives and performers with their life struggles, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creativity, relationships and love, PTSD, and addictions – to become their own best version.