Back then I had joyfully set out to use a lifelong interest in cartooning to process my struggles and triumphs in navigating alternative relationships and polyamory. I called myself The New PolyAnna. I was so pleased with myself — well, at first. In the background and as the months rolled by creating those posts, I often felt shitty about that project, and especially about my artmaking. My inner critic was raging in that period of my late twenties and early thirties. Mostly by lack of capacity to do otherwise, I often found myself alone in my process, and in my time alone I just wasn't that nice to myself.
Still, I was persistent in returning to do what I love — make art. I tried playing taiko for a couple of years, I got into making woodburned jewelry, and I pushed myself to write more. I deepened in dialogue with other makers, and worked to expose more of my process more vulnerably. I lost a best friend who was one of these companions and tackled grief and abandonment with a deep energy I didn't know I had. I learned that in some aspect of life I will always be alone, and understood that I am lucky to have the opportunity and wellness to be alone in that place and set the course toward happiness. At that point, I decided to spend more time alone not making art and just being, meditating, walking, lying around in the open air. I spent time on the art of self-reflection, and also on the art of surrender. I've gotten to know myself better. And I've learned a lot about how to nurture my critical, fearful, lonely parts.
And lately I've been really happy with my cartooning. I'm still not sure where my art practice will take me. Yet, I'm grateful for people like Brosh who have inspired me to keep making wild art and being weird, and who gave me a cat protector in the front of my copy of her book when she signed it all those years ago. Now, when I'm alone with my drawings, I sometimes laugh with myself about how some people don't get the same drawing that other people find incredibly moving, and sometimes I laugh with myself and cry with myself out of sheer awe at how weird a creature I am and how weird the way I express myself to the world can be. I laugh and I cry, and I remind myself how much I am growing and how strong I have been, and sometimes I'm still kind of rotten to myself, and often I am a lot nicer to myself, even about the rotten days.
How do you practice being alone with yourself?