It showed up, suddenly and without warning.
Or so I believed in that moment. I was surrounded by a haze that blurred all the areas of my life. Eating was an ordeal because there was so much anguish in my stomach that it filled everything.
I woke up every morning crying, wishing with all my strength that this terrible feeling would go away and let me live my life again. Not only did that not happen, quite the opposite occurred: it fed more and more of my frustration and feelings of helplessness among many other things.
Before that, I had a good life.
I started my own academy of painting, I organized exhibitions and I was involved in several projects that I loved, etc.
But I felt that I wanted to do something more with my life. I decided to drop everything, and do something to help others who didn't have the same privileges as me. When I managed to save up enough money, Mexico appeared in my life.
There I visited lost villages of the Mayan Riviera of which you may have never heard of. I met wonderful people, my faith in God was strengthened and above all I learned that being brave was not about being afraid, but confronting fear and moving forward. I lived among families with very little resources and at the same time they were so generous. I still can't understand how those who have less money can be more generous than those with a lot of wealth.
Months later, when I returned to Spain, I decided to focus on helping others but I made a big mistake: I followed the dreams of others and the ways in which others did things. It doesn't mean that it wasn't a good time, however the bad thing was that I turned my back on my identity.
Why did this happen?
I was working in an organization where, at that moment, creativity was excluded from my routine. Sometimes I had some free time to paint, but I was so exhausted from all the work I did. Any free time I had, I didn't feel like painting because my mind and body were physically saturated.
Anxiety was gaining ground without me realizing. Until suddenly it exploded into a mental and emotional war taking over everything. I didn't know why and I didn't understand anything. The only thing I could feel was a terrible anguish that completely nullified me.
Now I realize that this happened because I hadn't yet understood myself and for that reason I did not set limits or take care of myself.
So when I hit rock bottom, a deep put where the only thing I could do was cry, a little voice inside told me: PAINT.
I searched through my sketchbook and watercolors from my trip through Mexico and turned them into canvases full of color.
Color? How could I paint with color if all I could see inside of me was a deep black?
I think one of the reasons was because colors have always been my passion, so they started to keep my mind occupied. Instead of focusing on emotions, negative thoughts, etc...
Little by little painting helped me focus on making decisions about texture, composition, complementaries etc. It helped to harmonize my mind, to channel and express the emotions that generated feelings of well-being. I promise you I did not do it conscientiously. I just painted.
Therefore, if you see the pictures I made at that stage of life, if you didn't know my story, you would think that I made when I was super happy but in reality, they were created in a river of tears. What was happening was me finding myself.
Why did painting make that change in me?
When I studied art therapy a couple of years ago, I discovered that what I had experienced was, without realizing it, something very similar. During this process, painting took me by the hand and it was my therapist. Sounds crazy, right?
I always think that in life, even from bad times we can get good things out of it and thanks to that storm, my boat ran into "Découpage" a community of very nice people who lived in the center of Madrid. Most of them were artists and it was with them that the best stage of my life began. I found an actual therapist who helped me a lot and wonderful people who encouraged me and taught me that being an artist was part of taking care of myself, of being who I was and so then I could help others.
I learned that having anxiety is part of life, it's like being in a sea that is sometimes calm and sometimes agitated, but we can learn to surf with the right tools.
Sadly, as Julia Cameron would say, we have accepted the message from our culture that the world is a vale of tears and what we are supposed to do is fulfill our duty and die. But that's not true.
We can see anxiety as an opportunity for personal growth, it has led me to grow in many areas, especially as an artist and with my work.
And you know what was the best part?
I realized that with painting I can also continue with my dreams of helping people at risk of exclusion, but I'll tell you more about that another day ...
To wrap up, I'll leave you with some words from Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way" that helped me see that dark moments are not the end of the world, but a period of growth.
"Creativity - like human life itself - starts in the dark. It is necessary that we recognize this. We often think only in terms of the light: <And then the bulb went on and I understood it>. It is true that many findings appear to us in flashes. It's true that some of those flashes can be blinding but it's also true that these luminous ideas live preceded by a gestation period that is internal, cloudy and absolutely necessary ".
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