Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Friday, February 08, 2008


I don't know why - at this point I shouldn't be.

But I'm always amazed when I encounter or hear a partner - whether spouse or girl/boyfriend -- does not support the creative endeavors of the artists with whom I work.

Singing, writing, acting, and other artistic pursuits are, IMO, a spiritual quest. We create our personal artistic masterpieces in relationship with a universal energy or other spiritual power. I find artists who believe they are entirely on their own as they attempt to create do so at their peril, because creativity always taps into the artist's demons - which can be insurmoutable without the power of a spiritual energy to help the artist deal with them.

If we develop our inner core, our character, we can become our own personal masterpiece. So in that respect, I guess we're all artists.

I find the problem with having a non-supportive partner is that they actively work to kill the experience, the dream, the passion, the existence of the artistic pursuit. In a way, it's a destructive way to control and even alter the artist's identity.

While the notion of creating and devotion to one's art is pure -- it is not about the money for the true artist, though many are ultimately recognized with remuneration -- the desire to crush that drive, that desire, that passion and work is negative; in fact it can be outright hostile.

When bridled with an unsupportive partner, the artist, for no factual reason, is made to feel as though he or she is doing something wrong by doing what feels authentic, positive, right and truthful.

The reasons the unsupportive partner might work to sabotage the artist's inspiration and work are many: jealousy, fear of losing control over the partner, fear of losing the partner to someone who shares his or her passion, fear that the practical matters like finances might suffer, and more.

One wife told her husband to quit his artisic work because she said that all the time and passion he invested in his artisitic pursuit should be invested in her and their marriage. He did quit, as she desired.

In a healthy relationship, that artistic passion is encouraged and the happy artist brings home more passion, creating a happier relationship. Further, the "other" partner is encouraged to seek his or her own personal creative passion.

In an unhealthy relationship? Not so much happiness for several reason.

The first is that the unsupportive partner may resent the artist coming home so happy and enthused when the reason for that elation appears to have nothing to do with them. He or she may not understand the notion of the Muse - the spiritual inspiration of all that is created by the artist - who most frequently is the partner.

But, when the artist stifles feelings of joy coming home to "keep the peace," so the partner won't feel threatened by the work, those emotional "secrets" only build to a boiling point on both sides. Sooner or later, feelings emerge and not always in the way we'd like.

It's heartbreaking to see this happen - and I've seen it so many times I wish they'd do a show on Oprah about it so families and partners can understand why everyone - especially the partner - wins when the artist is supported and that emotional support comes right back from the artist to the family.

So many people have left their training/career because the partner gave them a choice: their work or the relationship.

Of all the people with whom I've worked who have selected a relationship at the cost of their art, I would say most have contacted me years later, full of regret. Love is love. And either people love you for who you are or they do not.

I don't mean the artist should be self-absorbed at the expense of family, friends and a full life. But a healthy relationship is a collaboration, constructed in a way that both achieve what they wish, especially when the goals are positive and constructive - the artist being as supportive to a partner and she or he is for the artist.

I find genuine support and growing trust work to develop splendid business partnerships as well.
The toughest cases are those in which the partner says he or she is totally supportive of the artist, while hiding feelings of resentment and jealousy until one day POW! Again, problems of communication and trust between the partners preceed the explosion - where once again the artists are made to feel as though they've done something wrong, when in fact they have not.

It's a matter of control - and of the jealous, resentful partner missing something within themselves and taking out their own failings or emotional voids on their partner; blaming the artist, instead of understanding that they themselves are creating their own hell - then making false accusations and acting out with some sort of emotional abuse to the artist to "equalize" the situation in their minds.

I know this first hand because I lived with a very unsupportive partner who made my life miserable with jealousy, hostility and resentment for not only the work I did and the recognition I received for it, but for the (recognized, accomplished) people I knew because of my work.

I can't believe I stayed in that abusive situation as long as I did. Then I realized I stayed because I kept trying to "make the situation right," feeling as it I was doing something wrong, when in fact I was not. When the relationship mercifully ended, I didn't skip a beat, I felt so free and was so clear about what happened. I've been perhaps a little overzealous protecting myself and my work since, and know that my 50% was choosing someone who would behave this way.

Homey don't play that game no mo'!

It won't surprise you to know that my family was decidely unsupportive when I left journalism to become a writer and filmmaker. And I mean *decidedly.*

However! I'm happy to report today they are 100% behind me, my work and my career. They even tell me how proud they are of me and what I do!

While I think most people suffer with unsupportive families and partners, I'm delighted to report more good news recently came in the form of two professional writers I know -- their husbands are not only supportive, but these women are supportive of their husbands' artistic pursuits.

In fact, after a discussion about this, one approached her long-time partner, telling him if he wanted to pursue *more* acting work, she'd be happy to pick up any slack that might follow around the home, with the kids, and so on. She said the look on his face was priceless, he was so excited.

Imagine hearing your partner say to you, out of nowhere, "Hey, if you want to take more singing lessons? I figured out how we can adjust our finances to afford them. We can do without (whatever), and (whatever) instead."

Likewise, a couple members of my writers' group have unconditionally supportive partners - and they are as supportive of their partners' artistic quests!

That, dear Reader, is the way it's supposed to work. And it's no wonder these people are so happy with their spouses and kids, while of course going through the ups and downs any life offers.

My wish for everyone is an amazing, inspiring artistic experience, supported by a loving family and partner!

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  • At 9:27 AM, Blogger Jarrod said…

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences on something I and other artists have experienced.

    Another great post CP!

  • At 5:17 AM, Blogger chckn8r said…

    Hear hear! Luckily, I'm one of those who fall into having a supportive partner.

    I can only imagine how stifling it must be to have to hide or downgrade your feelings for your passion to "keep the peace"...

  • At 1:13 PM, Anonymous LjSketch said…

    I feel much better, ironically , that I found this article as I am trying to pursue my artistic career with an unsupportive partner. I specifically fall into the category of my partner hiding their feelings until the very last minute, only to discover that my career is but only a dream. Unfortunately I have found that many others have had to leave the relationship to continue their career. Leaving is going to be a very hard choice for me for we have twins together, but it seems I will meet such a fate given the current circumstances. Thank you for such a great post.


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