Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Surviving Workplace Abuse: The place of creativity in recovery


The picture above is of the back wall of my "safe room" which has also been dubbed "the office" as my computer is there, "the entertainment centre" as my DVDs are also housed in this room where I watch them on the computer rather than on a TV, and also as "the creation centre" as this is where I make things - the place where I allow my imagination to run wild with words, with thoughts, with colours, with whatever.

In previous times aka times before workplace abuse, I could only do things according to a pattern or a recipe as in cooking.  I was completely limited to the exact quantities and components as given in patterns or recipes.  My mind could not comprehend making substitutions or changing the script in any way, shape or form.

And then came trauma ....

I've read (somewhere, I can't remember where now) that trauma unlocks creativity in the victim.  I'm not sure why - and I can't remember now the rest of the article.  Only that those words hit a cord in me because I could see it happening in my own life.  In my own journey during the worst of the trauma and especially during recovery.

We tend to think of creativity as involving the arts - especially painting.  Yet it is so much more than that which is why I've copied a definition of creativity from Wikipedia below.
Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new is created (such as an idea, a joke, an artistic or literary work, a painting or musical composition, a solution, an invention etc.). The ideas and concepts so conceived can then manifest themselves in any number of ways, but most often, they become something we can see, hear, smell, touch, or taste. The range of scholarly interest in creativity includes a multitude of definitions and approaches involving several disciplines; psychologycognitive scienceeducationphilosophy (particularly philosophy of science),technologytheologysociologylinguisticsbusiness studiessongwriting and economics, taking in the relationship between creativity and general intelligence, mental and neurological processes associated with creativity, the relationships between personality type and creative ability and between creativity and mental health, the potential for fostering creativity through education and training, especially as augmented by technology, and the application of creative resources to improve the effectiveness of learning and teaching processes.
For me, the most dominant form of creativity has been manifested in the works both knit and crochet that I do with my hands.  Yet it also comes into play in my kitchen as well as other areas of my life.


This afghan, which I call the "Juliet afghan" after the first recipient of one, was an act of pure imagination for me.  I had met this young lady during our "memory lane" trip back to where hubby and I had met 30 years prior.  Hubby and I accidentally reconnected with her parents whom I had worked with on the mission field all those years ago.  Within 2 1/2 years of our meeting, both of her parents died of different causes leaving Juliet as what we call an "adult orphan".  My heart went out to this young lady whom I had only met once or twice and I wanted to do something special for her.  Something that might help her through her journey of grief.  So I decided to make her what I call a prayerghan.  An afghan sprinkled with prayer in its creation.

On the right is a picture of another afghan, one I was making for my mom when she passed away.  This was the format I intended to use for Juliet's afghan.  Yet, as I searched out possible yarns in my stash, my imagination got carried away with itself.  It became (to me at least) a piece of knit art combining all sorts of different yarns, colours, yarn weights, fibres.  It cannot be duplicated.  The concept can - and has - been duplicated once.  But each Juliet afghan is so very different because of the combination of yarns used.  No two are alike.

Above and below are two different shots of Juliet's afghan.


A shot of a second Juliet afghan, now completed and rehomed, is below.

As I knit there seems to be a magical connection between my brain and my fingers - completely bypassing my mind.

As I watch things grow beneath my fingers, as I feel the texture of the yarn(s), I seem to come alive with newness, with purpose.

I call knitting my right brain therapy.
And so it is.

Yesterday, I wrote about a typical day in the life.  Of course, in reality there is no "typical" day in anyone's life as each one is different and unique in its own way.

Yet, a "typical" day for me includes hours spent doing my favourite right brain "therapy": knitting.  Creating something special.  Something which will eventually be given - or sold - to someone.  A therapy which not only allows my left brain, the analytical part, the part which is constantly trying to make sense of a situation (the bullying) which makes no sense, to rest and to heal.  It gives me a break from the constant torment of remembering what happened.  It provides a purpose in my life.

*******

I have an inactive blog called The Naked Knitter.  I started this blog to chronicle my activities in the knitting realm so I haven''t blogged much about knitting in this blog, my ramblings.  Yet, I find it impossible to separate the two.  This blog is about recovery from workplace bullying, from trauma.  For me, knitting has been and continues to be a huge part of my (admittedly slow) journey towards recovery and I think it appropriate to start including pieces of that part of my journey here in this blog.

Each person who is recovering from trauma - whatever their trauma may be - needs something they enjoy doing as part of their recovery process.  Something that brings them pleasure and fulfillment.  For each of us, that will be different.  For me, I think in the arts such as photography, knitting, crocheting, writing.  For others, it will be something different.  Perhaps building something, woodwork, dancing, sculpting (oops! that's arts again but very, very hands on), skating, etc.  A place where the person can simply enjoy what they're doing and even if for only a brief period of time, let their right brain take over so their left brain can rest.

Until tomorrow....

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