My ex-husband couldn’t read my writing. “It’s marketing bullshit,” he would say, “I can’t read it.” It was hard to hear, but I swallowed it. In my mind, I always wondered if he was right. Was my writing authentic? Did it help anyone? Did it make a difference?
I started writing the second I learned to hold a pencil. First, it was scribbles. Then I learned letters, and what I wrote developed meaning. I wrote poems, diary entries, movie scripts, and essays. Even in adulthood, no matter what my full-time career was, writing was always there to process whatever was happening in my life. Expressing myself creatively through writing has always been a crucial part of me and my values, but I didn’t realize just how important it was until much later.
Over time, the role of creativity in my life became more and more significant. I started noticing that I felt increasingly anxious when I didn’t write anything. The anxiety disappeared the minute I would somehow express myself — by drawing a picture, playing the piano, or publishing an article.
Creativity has always been a part of me. I needed to accept and learn to love it, even if others didn’t approve.
Time and therapy helped. Eventually, I knew that writing had to be a part of my self-care routine. When I neglected this form of self-expression, I would develop anxiety, just like I’d get cavities if I didn’t brush my teeth.
When I met my current husband, he pretty much fell in love with me by reading my articles, even before we met in person. He read all of them. His appreciation of my writing and his ability to accept me fully helped my creativity blossom — I ended up publishing a book.
What came first — me learning to love my creative part or my new husband’s appreciation for it?
As I pondered this question, I remembered my previous relationships. There was a pattern.
When my self-esteem was at an all-time low, I had an emotionally abusive boyfriend. I believed that I had to prove my love for him. I had to show him that I deserved his love. And I believed I deserved the way he treated me.
When I began seeing a therapist and worked through some issues and beliefs related to not being worthy, I could no longer accept the abuse and mistreatment. When I truly accepted the idea that I was worthy of love and respect, I couldn’t let another human disrespect me.
My next boyfriend wanted to involve other people in our sex life before I was ready. I didn’t believe I had the right to refuse, and it caused me a great deal of suffering. Once I learned to love and respect my boundaries, that relationship ended. I couldn’t accept a behavior that caused me pain that I was no longer willing to tolerate.
The more therapy I did and the more issues I worked through, the higher quality my relationships became. If I didn’t allow myself to treat myself poorly, how could I allow anyone else to do that?
I realized how important it was to acknowledge and accept the neglected parts of myself to break the cycle of allowing others to mistreat me.
This was true for any relationship, not only romantic ones. When I found myself in unsatisfying or unhealthy relationships, I knew it was only because I chose to stay in them. The reason I let the mistreatment take place was because there was a part of me that believed that whatever wrong was happening was somehow okay. As soon as I recognized that, I could look for the unseen part of me that was allowing what was happening. And when those shadows came to light, I could see them, work with them, integrate them, and learn to love them.
Learning to love and value ourselves is a prerequisite for expecting others to do the same. Therapy has been invaluable for me in this process. It helped me identify and work through my limiting beliefs and negative patterns that were in the way of self-acceptance. Writing is my happy place now. I love this creative part of me, and so does my husband. As a result of all the therapy I’ve done over the years, I am now in a relationship where I feel fully accepted and seen by my partner.
When we prioritize our well-being and happiness, we pave the way for fulfilling and meaningful relationships. So take the time to get to know yourself, to love yourself, and to express yourself creatively. You might be surprised at how much it changes your life.
Check out my author page on Amazon and read my book — “My Journey To Polyamory And Back: How I Fell In Love With Myself By Experimenting With Non-monogamy, Healing Ceremonies, and Psychedelics” to learn more about my growth path.