Sometimes, creative expression can assist with difficult emotions. Some people paint and some people compose music, while some people write. Most certainly, there are a wide array of creative acts employed to deal with a variety of emotions. For me, storytelling can be a form of release. In this case, I used storytelling as a means to move through the challenging emotions of grief.
Destination Peace: a fable about grief.
Elandra paced back and forth across the field filled with long blades of grass. Her white fur glowed under the bright sun, which contrasted with her dark stripes
I looked at the tiger and asked,
“Where is Peace?”
Elandra looked at me pointedly,
“I cannot find Peace for you. You must find Peace yourself. But I can help you.”
Elandra’s grey eyes shifted from me and stared into the distance.
“It is time to go,” she said. Elandra burst into a sprint, running in the direction of where her gaze shifted to.
“Wait! I’m not ready yet!” I yelled, but my words fell on deaf ears. All I could do was run after her. I could see the glimmer of white fur in the distance. When I finally caught up with her, she stood majestically at the entrance to a dark forest. Behind her was a path that wound its way through the forest.
“No, Elandra. I can’t go in there. It is the path to Sorrow. Surely, there is better route than this?” Elandra stared at me for a moment and sprung ahead once again. “Wait Elandra!” Elandra did not appear to hear me and I feared that I would lose sight of her, if I did not follow her.
Some of the path was not clear. Branches extended in front of me and blocked my way. I tried to shove my way through the branches. The branches, in retaliation, cut my skin as I attempted to push my way past them. As I felt the stinging pain from the fresh cuts, the branches kept scraping and cutting my skin repeatedly, every time I tried to move. I thought, “There is no way I can survive this, perhaps I will die here.” I caught a flash of Elandra’s white fur through the trees. “Elandra! Wait! Don’t leave me all alone here!” I lost sight of Elandra and despite the branches continuously scraping at me, I forced myself to push on through to catch up with Elandra. I jumped over the tree roots protruding from the ground as I tried to keep sight of Elandra. I kept jumping and running, until I landed in a large pool of water.
The water was murky and smelled foul. Then the mosquitoes came and began to bite at me relentlessly. I knew, at that point, that I was in the midst of Shame. I saw Elandra, standing still as a statue at the other side of the swamp. “Elandra!” I yelled, but she did not respond. I began to wade through the water as quickly as I could, but I kept slipping and with each movement the mosquitoes would attack me. I thought, “Maybe, I do not deserve to arrive at Peace. I was foolish to leave where was to go on this journey. I am not like Elandra, I am a weak human being.” My pace slowed as I made my way through the water. The ground under the water made a sudden dip and just as quick I found myself under the water. I thrashed in the water. “This is it, I might as well die” I thought. Giant white paws grabbed me and pulled me to the swamp edge.
Elandra held my hands at the swamp edge. “Fight” she snarled. Then she let me go.
“Wait! Elandra! I can’t swim!” I sunk back into the water. I was able to briefly get my head above water long enough to see Elandra sprinting away. I panicked. I did not want to lose sight of her, not when I was so close to escaping the swamp. I started thrashing in the water again and mosquitoes continued to wage war on me. I swatted at the mosquitoes. “Enough!” I thought. I caught hold of a thick vine and pulled myself to the water edge and slowly pulled myself out of the swamp.
I paused to catch my breath and stared at my surroundings. I saw Elandra’s grey eyes staring at me from a space in the vegetation. “Elandra, why didn’t you pull me out? I could have died in there.” Elandra did not answer and was gone in a flash again. I chased after her in a fury. How could she do this to me? How could she leave me? How could I survive on my own? She is so selfish! It took me some time to feel the heat surrounding me. I momentarily stood still and looked at my surroundings.
The trees surrounding me were ablaze. The heat was so close and so hot that blisters were beginning to form on my skin. This filled me with anger. I could not see Elandra anywhere. “Elandra, why did you take me here? You said you would help me!” I kicked a tree, then I kicked another one. I did not care that the trees were on fire. I kicked and punched until I could not kick and punch anymore with my skin searing with burning pain. I collapsed to ground, surrounded by fire. I was tired and all I could be was still. Elandra had clearly left me alone in Rage. I had to make a choice, to stay in Rage or to continue towards Peace. After much stillness, I pushed myself from the ground and trudged along. The heat became less as I tiredly continued my journey. I soon felt a cool breeze and found myself in a valley filled with flowers.
The valley had a stream running through it. I knelt at the stream and I drank thirstily. I washed my bites, burns and bruises. Vibrant purple flowers bloomed near by. I picked some of the flowers and I pressed the flower petals against my skin. The flower petals had a soothing sensation. I stood and made a slow 360 degree turn. It was an endless green valley filled with a variety of colourful plants and flowers. The sun was slowing setting in the horizon, leaving a pleasant amber hue on the land. I could not believe the beauty of my surroundings.
“This land is so beautiful. I wonder where I am?” I thought to myself. Then I heard Elandra’s soft voice from behind me.
“You are at Peace of course,” she said.
“So, I am,” I said. I sunk to the grass to lay down for a peaceful rest with the soft white lustrous fur of Elandra under my head. “Thank you, my friend” I whispered. I fell into a deep sleep. When I awoke, Elandra was gone. I was not surprised. I knew she could not stay. I knew she had to take the next step in her own journey. While I would miss her always and forever, I knew I would continue to treasure her and all the gifts she gave me. I also knew that Elandra’s gifts allowed me continue, thrive and live, without forgetting her.
While creativity is a useful tool for dealing with difficult emotions, it is not the only tool. Sometimes, all of us need outside help. This post is not intended to give professional advice. Please seek the assistance of a health care professional, if needed.