If something inside you sings . . .

Or she with herself.
Or she with herself.

Someone very dear to me is a painter. Her partner has managed to convince her, for the second time in less than 10 years, that she will be better off if she gives up her studio and walks away from her art.

When she told me last week she would be selling off all of her paintings — and not to worry, it’s been a nice hobby but she’s no longer a creative person — I remembered the last studio she left behind and how it took her over a year to admit how deeply she felt that loss.

Most of her paintings sold last weekend. A few of those remaining will go into storage. The rest? Have been destroyed. Her partner tells me how together they slashed the canvasses and broke the frames. She explains how she’ll probably end up smashing the ones now in storage eventually too.

She tells me this — and her face looks like a steel hatchet. 

Or the rusted bottom of a sunken ship.

I cannot be kind to her on the subject; she only sneers at me. I cannot tell her that my heart breaks for her; my compassion threatens the shell she has built to protect herself from feeling the repetition of this loss.

And so I am telling you instead, my invisible friends:

If something inside you sings, open your mouth and share it.
If something inside you thinks only in colors and shapes, grasp a paintbrush in your hand and write the thought down.
If something inside you dances, stand lightly on your feet and let the world see you fly.

The art of our minds can never be destroyed. If you try doing so, the only thing left slashed and broken will be yourself.

Choose the singing instead.

30 thoughts on “If something inside you sings . . .

  1. Oh, my heart breaks for your friend.

    Many years ago, a man I dated used to ridicule me for reading books. As a voracious reader, I was shocked. He was (and is) a very smart man, with an advanced degree. But my reading intimidated him. I was young and fell away from books. That’s when I learned books they were really important to me. I’d always read, but never thought about the value of them.

    I dumped the guy. (He did introduce me to my husband, though. A voracious reader …)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’ve been watching him pull her strings like this for a long time, and it always hurts.

      I’m glad you got yourself away from the unpleasant dude and together with the supportive one! BOOKS READERS ARE AWESOME — and supportive spouses are even better.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My best friend’s husband is like that too. Horrible, controlling assholes, your friend’s husband and mine.

        In addition to being a big reader himself, my husband has a special literary talent. He can pick out books for me — stacks of them over the years — wonderful books I’ve never heard of and read and love. He almost never reads one of them. It’s like magic!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I hope so too.

      I totally understand about the health consequences you suffered when you left your own art behind; at times in my life when I have not written, I have experienced that as well. I am glad you and I both found our way back! Gives me hope that my loved one may too.


  2. Unfortunately this isn’t a rare dynamic in certain relationships. All of a sudden that passion goes into the subconscious as if it were never there. More common in women than men I’d say.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sad to read about anyone putting a bushel over their light, as my mother used to say. I wonder what is broken within her that she feels this need to destroy her work. Fascinating, but disheartening to read about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the destruction is. . . painful to contemplate. To me, it’s a stark reminder that loving and hating are not opposites — they are just two sides of the same coin.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I quit writing for a lot of years because I was afraid it would unleash the demons. That was tough, but it was my decision and not influenced by another person. I can’t imagine considering someone my “partner” if they didn’t support my dream.


        1. I am so glad you began writing again. It *does* unleash the demons sometimes, in my experience — but the alternative is leaving them chained deeply within our own chests, with nothing but our organs and bones to sharpen their claws on.

          Far better to bleed on the page.

          (I have been thinking about you and your first book, btw. And I am so excited for you both, to see where that relationship has yet to lead you!)

          Liked by 1 person

  4. How in the world do you simply “stop being a creative person?” Rather unfathomable to be talked into it once, and now again. I am sorry that you must stand by and see this happen. It’s always so hard when you know your words will fall on deaf ears and then, someday in the future you most likely will be in the midst of trying to help pick up the pieces when realization strikes. It isn’t my place to judge, but I am anyway, and I don’t think I like this ‘partner’ very much.


    1. Me neither! They came out to visit in May, which was after his pushing for ‘something must change!’ had begun but before it had taken this specific form. She and I only had a few hours by ourselves without him — when I asked her how she was doing, she immediately broke down.

      “Every time he gets like this, I end up losing something,” she says through tears. “How much more do I have to lose?”

      Two months later, and we have the answer. Lost: her paintings, her studio, and now her house. (He just bought them a much smaller condo.) Saved: she gets to continue living in the same town. For now.


      1. That is heartbreaking. The 50+ years thing really hit me. I have no business telling others what to do as I am no better at leaving my loveless marriage, however- it is just that-a growing apart in my case, not a downright control over another individual/emotional abuse issue. I would want everyone I know to kick me in the head and my ass out the door if I was staying in that situation. Easier said than done, I know but what a waste of creative intent, passion and happiness. We can only hope that soon she may turn up on your/or someone elses doorstep, sans the partner, and ask for help 😦

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I can’t hope anymore. I’ve been hoping for her to leave him my entire life, and I can’t break my own heart on that particular shoal any longer.

          (Should also probably explain: these people are my parents.)


        2. I suspected as much, which is why I think it was a bit easier to be judgmental as I have some backstory. You area a good person, and a good daughter and life sucks sometimes

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Aaaaaaaaaargh.

    I love your words. I love your perspective.

    I ache, ache, ache whenever someone hears an either/or, no matter how sweetly phrased, and believes it’s a truth. The truth is that when such an either/or is offered, it’s time to go out in search of “and.” It’s out there.

    I wish more people trusted that, and felt more confident going out in search of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I ache too.

      I ache anytime someone decides the fact that she *can* make herself smaller means that she *should*. Or behaves as if “compromise” can only mean “compromising myself.”

      And I ache over these people, who have gone through this same dance every 4-6 years of their 50+ year marriage. I have to say to other people what I have despaired of ever saying to them. To her, so that she hears me.

      Interesting you should name the problem as “either/or/and” — that’s how I wrote about these same two people in a poem set almost 30 years ago: “looking for a third answer to the question / stay or go” (Am talking about my parents, fyi.) Whole thing is here, if you’re curious: https://coffeeandablankpage.com/2015/04/01/king-of-pentacles/

      Liked by 1 person

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