How Can I Creatively Process Physical Pain & Illness?

 

HAS THERE EVER BEEN A TIME WHEN YOUR ONCE VIBRANT BODY WENT ROGUE?

Me too.

But the the thing is…it was this very pain that led me to explore written and visual expression. And come out on the other side of illness. Wiser, happier, and more empowered.

Hmmm. Pain? Not such a bad deal after all.

Which is what I remind myself, every time I get a migraine headache. Pain dressed in a new costume, and full of Chucky-like vengeance toward my bucket full of healing smugness.

 
 

Transforming this compassionate creator into a combative contemplative.

But not for long.

 
 

MEETING PAIN AT THE CORNER OF PEN, PAINT, AND PAGE

 

WRITE YOUR PAIN STORY

Written journals are a good front line strategy. But patience is required for deeper wounds. Taking weeks, months, or even years to evolve into a story that you prefer.

In the meantime, the cycle of scribbled drama may look a lot like…

  • ranting and whining

  • genetic, relational, and cultural blame

  • skillful avoidance of REAL

That’s okay. Let it ALL out. Keep writing.

Eventually, you will probably hear a snarky boot-camp voice, as I do, indicating that enough is enough.

 
 
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Don’t blame me! You’re the one who created me.

Damn! Why do you always have to say that? Why would I create such horrible affliction if I had the choice?

“That’s what we’re here to find out.”

Smart aleck.

 
 
 

CREATIVITY-A TICKET TO FORGET ALL PRIOR THEORIES

 
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Most people call it an art journal. I call it CREATIVE DISRUPTION.

Because reflecting with words, colors, and images is an action step, not a thing.

It’s also the best (and sneakiest) way to bust up those old patterns of blame, shame, and confusion.

All it takes is four transformational steps. Applied intuitively…and gleefully.

 
 
Creativity is not a means of escape. It is precisely the opposite. A meeting place...for all that wants to be known.
— Teresa Howard, Unstuck Every Day
 
 

STEP 1-BACKGROUND

 

What kind of physical discomfort or changing body image are you facing right now? Longsufferers beware! Low-grade constant pain is easy to overlook.

  • Choose a color that represents the raw emotion of your pain, illness, or issue.

I chose a neutral tone, because migraines suck all the color out of my life.

  • Use texture to further describe your pain.

I haphazardly applied titan buff and burnt umber acrylic paint with a palette knife. Because migraines are not smooth in any way!

 
 

STEP 2 TEXT + FORM

 

Acrylic dries quickly, but I often wait until the following day for this next step. To allow the deep whispering of soul.

  • WARNING: Be careful not to “plan” your page with artsy overthinking. This isn’t one of those journals.

  • Let inspiration arrive. Or randomly pluck it from a field of interesting images. Without having to justify its selection.

 
 
 

Funny story. I originally chose an image of an inquisitive puppy who looked like he was asking, “Why me?”. But the lovely window seat and designer pillows did NOT represent my journey.

Primitive was just right.

STEP 3 IT SHOULD BE GRITTY & FUN

  • You can’t rush the process of deep reflection with cuteness.

  • Don’t avoid your REAL NOW by trying to imagine your CREATIVE NEW too soon.

  • Pop on over to Pinterest for an “alphabet font” search.

Because it’s more fun to use new lettering styles each time. And FUN is the secret sauce of creative expression.

 
 
 

STEP 5-PAINT AND PONDER

We all build our caves, right? Hiding away from others to nurse wounds of illness or introversion. Or entrepreneurship.

Just as soon as I saw my primitive self in this cave, I began to suspect that my migraines might be attached to The Hunt.

You know, the incessant search for worthiness that can slyly slip into online endeavors.

 
 

But I know better than to rush into a perfectly packaged resolution.

  • Allow emerging wisdom to rest. Give it space…and time.

I love how journaling leads to synchronicities. And synchronicities lead to subtle connections. Leaving us off the hook for figuring it out. The best gift an overthinker could ever be given, right?

Smack in the middle of writing about migraines, Maria Hyken from quiettransformation.com offered a free series, thetruthaboutyourmigraine.com. Leading to a turning point question for all who suffer physical pain and illness.

“What were you experiencing two years BEFORE __________ started?”

Bam!

Physical pain is cumulative. Malfunctioning body parts take years to build.

But regardless of the intensity of our suffering, pain is simply a compassionate friend. Asking for a heart to heart talk…before we get on with the good stuff in life.

WE’VE GOT MORE STUCKBUSTING TOOLS HERE