I am beautiful…

me, fractured

A title that may well expose me to questioning ridicule- stay with me though.

For most of my life I have been affected by a crippling lack of confidence. I manage to hide it some of the time, even to act as though it is not there, but it never quite goes away. Many of you know just what I am talking about; that feeling that in any given social situation things could go wrong. That the others have more brains, more good looks, more talent, more presence.

This is not just an intellectual understanding- I know that my position is not always logical. I am quite good at some things. I even surprise myself sometimes, so do not hit me with your ‘power of positive thinking’ crap. But all my success is nuanced by the shadow of doubt. If I am not careful I know that these negative thoughts become a black hole that I fall in to.

It is not just a spiritual understanding- I know that I am a child of the Living God. I am even convinced that he likes sinners like me, that he has a skew towards those at the back of the class. My experience is that whilst God may not be my divine therapist, still he has this way of turning negative to positive. So my sensitisation can become a way of being sensitive to others. It can become deeply creative. Nevertheless, sometimes depression hangs on me like darkness and I can create nothing, love nothing.

It is not just a psychological understanding- I have been down those roads; the counselling, the self help, the CBT formulation schematics. I know the root of this in my childhood, the factors in my personality that skew me towards the shadow. I understand them in the same way that a man understands how forces of gravity will mean that it will hurt when he surely falls. I am an onion, with each skin stretched from the same damaged DNA.

It is not about appearance, although I avoid mirrors and dodge the pointed lens. They tend to make an unflattering cartoon of my face.

But enough of this.

It is true and also not true.

For despite all these things, I am beautiful.

So those of you who carry your own wounds- know this- you are more. And although I know these words are trite and shallow (I wrote them after all…)

…you are beautiful too.

Creativity and internal conflict…

There was an article on Bruce Springsteen in the Guardian today. I am not a huge fan- but there is one of his albums, Nebraska, that I have played a lot. It is a spare, bleak collection of songs recorded on a basement 4 track cassette recorder. Some of it makes the hairs on your kneck stand out.

It was both shocking, and yet not a surprise to read this;

While he was working on his 1982 album Nebraska, he felt “suicidal”, according to friend and biographer Dave Marsh. “The depression wasn’t shocking, per se,” Marsh explained to Remnick. “He was on a rocket ride, from nothing to something, and now you are getting your ass kissed day and night. You might start to have some inner conflicts about your real self-worth.”…

The Boss was driven, he admitted, “by pure fear and self-loathing and self-hatred”.

“I’m 30 years in analysis!” Springsteen said. “You think, I don’t like anything I’m seeing, I don’t like anything I’m doing, but I need to change myself, I need to transform myself.

“I do not know a single artist who does not run on that fuel,”

I was reminded on an old post I wrote, reflecting on some words by David Bailey– he said that he had never known a good artist who did not have absolute confidence in their work. This seemed nonsense to me, as those I had met seemed full of doubts and fears about everything they created, and quite a lot about themselves too.

This may reflect my own skewed perspective of course. Success perhaps belongs to the bombastic.

But then again, creativity does appear to relate to introspection, and no one instrospects like those of us who carry damage. We have been hiding deep inside ourselves, and built all sorts of defences to keep it quiet down there. One of the ways of communication left to us is through art. There is no better example than Peter Howson.

Or Bruce of course.