I’m good at feeling the juicy ones, the sexy ones, the tender ones. There was usually this flip side to that ecstasy. Myopicly in love and the luckiest woman in the world one moment, I would freeze my lover out of the story as soon as things got uncomfortable. I spent considerable energy mapping out all the different ways things might fall apart.

I tried to break up nine times in ten months with the first man I dated after a 5-year relationship with a woman. He wanted polyamory, I didn’t. And every time I walked the five blocks to his house to end things he convinced me that “I was hard to be in partnership with” and that he was willing to work through this difficulty with me. There are so many threads to that particular story.

The thread that matters to me most in this moment, the why I am telling you about itI didn’t trust my voice more than any other voice in the room. I didn’t want to be in this relationship. And I was attached to a lot of the stories of the relationship—my fear that no one else would want to be with me, that he was my last chance to be in partnership, that fun sex and not being alone were worth all the drama and misery. This story isn’t about what my ex-boyfriend did to me. It’s about all the self-limiting stories I had about myself that had me, time and again, making the choice to stay with him.

It isn’t lost on me that my “freezing” was some particularly good self-protection given a few of the romantic scenarios I’ve chosen. I chose them. They didn’t choose me. What is different now? I understand to my bones that I am responsible for what shows up in my life. It isn’t my fault and I’m the one to do something about it.

One heartbreakingly curious thing I’ve noticed about myself—all that heartache and drama wiped me out so completely I had little time or energy leftover to give to my creative practice. When I show up on the daily to making things, magic happens. I make cool things, opportunities come my way, I meet interesting people, I get out of my own story and start moving through the world in a good way. Why do I fall away from my really good practices when I get overwhelmed and unhappy? Because these practices force me to have all my feelings. And at the time, I wasn’t equipped. I was better at eating ice cream to freeze them out and get numb.

Now, four years later, my creative practice is an essential part of my being human. I make art to have my feelings, to give them a voice, to spill my guts with no restrictions, no censoring, no restraint. I love the moments when time ceases to matter, when I am entirely in my moment and every choice moves fluidly without interrupting myself with over-thinking or self-consciousness. And I can see the difference in the work when I’m moving in flow.

An artist and a teacher, Allyson Seal helps people connect to their intimate voice. You can find out more about her creative practice and her creativity workshops at allysonseal.com. 

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