This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.
1. What I would have needed as a child is the freedom to quit things that I didn’t enjoy.
2. The thing that makes me most sad about my life is how I feel like I’ve been forced to give up on my family altogether as the only right action I can take on my own behalf.
3. The things I wish were different about my childhood are many: I wish I’d gone to a different school or been transferred out as soon as it became evident administration had classed me as “disposable,” I wish my parents had set aside their concerns about their public image as “teachers” and actually behaved like parents when it came to my education, I wish both my parents had sought out professional counseling rather than passing down their own trauma and assumptions.
4. If only I had someone I could have confided in about what happened at home, and had somehow taken those writing classes and had real friends.
5. If only they had seen intelligence in girls as valuable, or had at least insisted that my sister go have a real college experience instead of leaving her around to try to meddle with my already difficult high school life.
6. I feel angry about my childhood and how much I was silenced.
7. My strengths as a child were my ability to see when someone was trying to “shape” me into who they wanted me to be, and how those attempts were not even remotely about what was good for me. I was also imaginative, and had much more vision than my peers: nothing was ever “just the way it is,” to me, and that’s still the case.
8. My family’s strengths are mainly in social engineering: they can convince anyone, almost, to have a good opinion of them. While this is usually just them manipulating people, once in awhile I’ve seen them using the skill for good. They are also deeply creative people – and they use that creativity to produce one excuse for another for never taking those risky next steps.
9. The one thing I am most grateful for about my childhood is my father being around to run interference on the other women of the house. Without him, I wouldn’t have my soul left.
10. This work makes me sad, because I’m trying to learn not to think about this stuff anymore. It’ already taken so much of my time and energy, and the people I speak of here are still relating to a version of me in their heads that was never accurate in the first place and is now at least twenty years out of date. I want to move on and leave them behind, because all this is is a map of where my setbacks come from, although arguably they are where future hurdles come from, too.