suffering for your art

I don’t believe in suffering for your art.

A colleague once told me that he liked me unmedicated because I was more creative in my writing. I was also going through extreme swings of mania and depression, I wanted to kill myself daily. I used to sit on the balcony of my office and wonder if I’d break something important if I jumped. That was me without medication. I drank a lot. I smoked a lot. I did everything and anything to help me feel something, because I felt nothing. I felt like I was nothing. I was suffering, and he profited off of it.

If my pain produces relatable work, then that’s great. But I don’t want to suffer through writing it, through reliving it, bleeding out every emotion possible on scraps of paper for people to read. There rarely is something cathartic about reliving the suffering. I remember things vividly: the smack of a hand, the cruelty of a comment, the emotional heartbreak that seems to be part and parcel of my mental illness.

I have a memory palace, like Hannibal Lecter. I place my bad memories in oubliettes in the floor, locked away so that I don’t experience them on the daily. But they’re like monsters, they fight their way out and to lock them back up is always a struggle. I feel my internal demons clawing at the insides of my brain, trying to make sure that I don’t write again. To suffer and to push through that is my fight. But it’s suffering all the same.

So it’s easy to say that I’ve suffered for my art. The only way out of the labyrinth of sorrow is to forgive bit I can’t find it in me to forgive just yet. I try my best not to hold on to the pain, but here we go. Yesterday, I wrote a companion to What Happens When We Fight, It hurt to write, to read, to edit. But suffering for your art is a hallmark of the artist apparently.

you are
silent, flustered, confused
I am
seething, fury contained

you ask me what’s wrong, why are you angry
and I tell you not here, not now
don’t cause a scene

walk slower, I can’t walk so fast
I want to not care but I slow down
I want to not be angry but I’m fuming
I want to be a lot of things but I can’t.

I love you, but go away.
I hate you, please don’t leave me.

We don’t speak, we smoke cigarettes out the car window to avoid getting into an argument during the traffic

I don’t want these emotional mood swings and small triggers that turn into huge arguments.

You’re not supposed to smoke anymore

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