Little Pink Spoon #3 from The Wheel of Creativity

The Place I Had To Leave

I can’t say exactly when I first had the idea for this book, but its roots are there in my earliest memories of childhood. Not so much from what I was given, but from what I was given to work with. So many experiences, looking back now, showed me who I was by showing me what I was not. So it is my own personal story where I begin—the soil into which those roots reached out, where I was nourished, inspired, humbled and compelled.

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1956, the only child of a Christian child psychiatrist and an uneducated, self-made man. I would have been an only child, except for the fact that six months before I was born, my father’s niece and nephew, who had spent 10 years in an orphanage, arrived to make their home with us.

Ours was a religious home. Sundays and Wednesdays found us at South Main Baptist Church. And I was proudly presented at Sunday School practically before I could form a thought. I learned to think and act in the context of Jesus’s teachings, and someone else’s interpretations of them.

Ours was a fearful home, with right-wing political leanings and well-researched fears about the dangerous changes happening in the world. My mother—a pediatrician turned child psychiatrist in 1960—protected me as only a trained shrink can. My father, less educated in his anxiety, also believed the world a dangerous place for his daughter and tried his loving best to keep me safe. They protected me by instilling their fears in me. I say this with the deepest appreciation for their loving intentions and complete forgiveness for their human limitations. As I have claimed my own limitations along the way, I have come to understand the origins of theirs.

I was a sensitive child. According to my mother, by the time I was able to sit up in my high chair, if I spilled my milk I would burst into tears. I was extremely fearful about doing anything wrong. At the same time, I was a big and colorful character, and probably overindulged as the only child born to parents late in life.

I vividly recall one night, when I was three or four, being in the family room with my parents and my cousins (19 and 14 by then) whom I idolized as sister and brother. I was doing my usual bouncing-singing-dancing thing around the room, when suddenly a dark cloud of worry came over me with a message: “These people are really uncomfortable with me. This is really bad that they feel uncomfortable. It’s obviously my fault. Therefore I am too big.” It was one of those decisions you never really make but changes your life all the same. I began to reel in my energy like a school of fish in a net, tighter and tighter, until I felt it was safe to be there, safe to be.

I was born into a world of other people’s agendas for me. So are we all.

And you?

Q: What place, ideology, system, etc. have you had to leave (do you need to leave) to discover the creative treasure within you?

Continued next Monday…

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