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Creativity in the Midst of Darkness

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I find it interesting that some of the most creative people are also those who struggle with mental illness.  When you look at writers such as Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath, it is obvious that the majority of their writing was birthed within a maelstrom of a darkness from which they saw no light.  Author Julie Cameron talks about her own battle with alcoholism and depression in “Finding Water”, part three of “The Artist’s Way”.  She speaks of standing on the edge of a great chasm that she calls “the abyss”.  She speaks of how it takes everything within her to keep from plunging over the edge.

I think of my own writing journey.  I grew up in a home with alcoholic parents.  My father sexually abused me during all of my teenage years.  I began writing because it helped me survive the abuse.  I often wonder if I would have started writing had I not suffered.  I remember reading Psalms from The Bible, which is some of the most beautiful poetry ever written.  As a result, I found my solace not only in reading poetry, but in writing poetry as well.  My words were a desperate plea, but nobody really heard that plea other than a few close friends.  I suppose in some way, those poems were my plea to God…my own personal psalms.

I’ve noticed a shift in my poetry.  When I was young and writing about my pain, I wrote in first person.  Now when I write about that time, I write as if I am talking about someone else.  In truth, I am.  I am talking to my inner child…that little girl who had no choice in what was done to her.  Today I write as her protector.

I’ve struggled with depression, co-dependency, addictive behaviors.  But I am stronger now…and my writing is one of the reasons that I am.  For Sylvia Plath, it didn’t work that way.  Her darkness consumed her.  But for the grace of God, that could have easily been me.




These haunted walls

were witness

to flailing hands and feet…

that dance of life

amidst solitary invasion.


These painted walls

were home

to violent shadows,

clinging to hope

amidst despair.


Today curtains billow

in silent tribute

to the little one

whose cries were lost,

but not forgotten.


I pace the silent hallways,


cradling the child inside

as I shelter her

with love.




Written by cherylawilliams

February 25, 2012 at 12:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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