Susannah Paterson Painter, Ceramicist & Therapist

Picking It Up Again

I stopped writing for a while. It all became too overwhelming feeling like it was just another thing I had to do. Recently however, I've had that urge to write again, so here it is. It's not going to be about art exclusively. No, this is more a blog about life.

Many years ago when I was working as a therapist in a rehabilitation clinic, I came across the statement "blame as a block to growth". I've thought about this statement many many times since then, both in my own life, and at a broader level, specifically in our public discourse and political worlds. I find myself wondering what would happen if we ceased to blame "the other" for whatever situation we find ourselves? Already the drums of blame about Covid, a horrible but rather natural event, have been pounding, both here and in the rest of the Western world. What if, instead of blame, we doubled down on just working together? What if we just took responsibility to the best of our ability? What if instead of all the one-upmanship, the sniping, the put downs, we could pull together and find a new way? You may call me a dreamer …

On a personal note, I took it to mean that we need to stop blaming our parents/siblings/spouses/friends for what's gone wrong in our lives, and recognise that we are the architects of our own lives, and staying stuck in blame really does block our ability to grow. This came to me in a lightbulb moment whilst I was on a silent retreat. I'd been thinking about my parents, both of whom had been abusive (emotionally and physically) . I did blame them for a long time for many of my struggles. Their varied forms of abuse had indeed scarred and shaped me and I had for so long seen myself as a victim of their dysfunctions. Then that lightbulb moment when I found myself overcome with a gigantic wave of grief and sadness, not for myself but for them. It was they who had cheated themselves of having their children around them and of a loving family. They were the ones who had really missed out on receiving love. They were so busy and preoccupied with their own lives and sending us away sent the love away too.

From that moment, I stopped thinking of myself as a victim and began thinking that I was lucky . Through my own determination that I would take a different path, that I would heal those wounds to the best of my ability, I had created a life that was so much more fulfilled, stable and happy. As I look around my studio and see it stuffed with my pottery and paintings, I realise I have achieved what my mother in particular wanted to achieve but couldn't get her act together to do it. My father was a good painter but could never be bothered to discipline himself to do it. I can and I have, but if I had stayed in blame and poor me, I don't think I could have.

If I do find myself blaming another person for screwing up my life in any way, I ask why am I giving them my power? What is it I am trying to avoid? Can I forgive, let go, and take responsibility for my part in that too? Easier said than done, of course, but you can't change what you are not aware of .. so awareness is and always has been the goal.

Thats enough for now. Leave me a comment if you like.

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