It is in the vulnerable spaces that I access so much of my power spaces. As I have been growing and stumbling and discovering my selves as artist, as woman, as mother, as community movement maker, as partner, as friend, as sister, as daughter, as all these things, I have gradually peeled back the truth of this delicate, but intrinsically woven dynamic in my life. Most people would not associate vulnerability with power, but they exist in the same sphere for me. And it is through accepting this relationship that I have begun to experience more peace in the process of be(come)ing me.
There is something so critical about being an artist who is open to receiving, to feeling, to intuiting, to expanding one’s capacity to create in multiple mediums. This engages the vulnerable self. It is equally essential that an artist be able to shape, articulate, produce, and initiate conversations relevant to her explorations. This exists in the power self. The sustainable artist, is one who can embody both frequencies in authentic relation to her practice. This takes work, and I am growing, ever deeply, into this work.
When I first began to explore this dynamic, it wasn’t through any obvious artistic process. Rather I was on a self-healing adventure, experimenting with methods that would help me embrace the wholeness of my journey. At the time, there was a vicious war going on in my head, and ultimately my body. The positive, flattering memories wanted to live out loud and on top. They wanted to outshine the sad, traumatic ones and become the dominant narrative of what and who I am. The grief-riddled memories were clamoring to be heard, as the sacrifice experienced on their behalf was not something to be ever taken lightly. They warned that dismissing the labor they represented in my evolution, challenging and unpleasant as it often was, would be inauthentic to crafting a complete understanding of who I am to myself, let alone to the world.
For many months I let the war wage on. I did not pick sides, but I did listen to the captains petitioning on behalf of each memory bank. One day when I was sharing something traumatic that I had experienced with a friend, I discovered a new relationship to my conflicting memories. She had never heard any part of my story, so I took my time and told her the whole thing. She didn’t interrupt or insist that I summarize for sake of time or generalities. It was a marvelous thing, to just be able to talk. And when she had listened to what I thought was series of unfortunate happenings, she proceeded to point out all my actions of power and triumph. It was there that I opened up that possibility that it is perhaps in my weakest moments that I actually am cultivating great strength.
This was altogether mind-boggling for me. I had always dissected my experiences, weighed them to see if they were more good or more bad, and labeled them as such. But in reimagining a different dynamic, an inherent interplay of vulnerability and power illuminated itself, and the memories’ war fell apart. I felt so free in the moment of clarity, in having an ally through her sensitive, open heart. Free from the need to wrestle over which parts of my whole deserved more emphasis in the rendering of the truth.
This epiphany was just the beginning in a new method of experiencing my paradoxes, and inconsistencies, and irreconcilabilities. I am still working on practicing it in the most trying of circumstances, like when I feel like I am falling apart, I allow it to happen. There is power in being courageous enough to let an unravelling proceed. It takes great strength to surrender oneself bare, exposed, and raw with the potential to grow something anew.