PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Playing (Part 2)
ARTICLE: Fostering Creativity
QUOTES: “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“A lot of people say a lot things about creativity – what it is, how to enhance it, what it means….. Creativity is just play, and love” ~ Kent Parkstreet (blogger…)
PLAY (in general) is made up of a wide range of spontaneous, voluntary, internally motivated activities, usually associated with recreational pleasure and enjoyment. It’s driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself rather than -necessarily- working towards an external reward. Play can range from frivolous & pointless —> through spontaneous, free-spirited and relaxed –> to planned or even compulsive
• In childhood, Playing is ‘run’ by children who choose the plot, location, characters & props – making up or changing the rules arbitrarily. It is something that completely engaged their attention & ends when it’s no longer fun or interesting. IMP: By this definition it’s not Play when adults have kids ‘playing a game’ of any kind which has pre-set rules.
FUN: Playful, often noisy, activity which diverts, amuses or stimulates. Anything which is a source of enjoyment & pleasure.
• Hopefully this only refers to positive situations, rather than abusive ones such as ‘making fun of’ someone / ‘having fun at their expense’…../ or excited, violent activity ‘She insulted him & then the fun began’
• In these posts the two terms are used interchangeably. The key word in the definitions is activity – behaviors we choose to do – because we like them. However, while play is indeed an action – even verbal play (poetry, exchanging puns & jokes, lively discussions about favorite topics…), fun can be either active or passive. We can have fun sitting in a comedy club or quietly on the beach. Play is more participatory, although it doesn’t always need others to be viable.
These definitions bring up several issues for ACoAs.
When asked “What do you like?” too often the answer is “I don’t know”.
To an observer this can be confusing because, looking at our behavior, they see many of us as functioning & accomplished people, which is not how we think of ourselves. Yet we have done things as adults – & some things as far back as childhood – which we did like, even enjoyed. It could be anything Artistic – acting, singing, drawing…, Sporty – acting, dancing, bike riding, hiking, baseball…. or other Physical things – going to an amusement park, traveling, having sex…..
So why do ACoAs say we don’t know? It’s a response from our WIC, who is still ‘living in the past’ & therefore still doesn’t have a clue or more accurately is not allowed to “Know what I know”. Because of the family’s narcissism & addictions we didn’t get mirrored* correctly, or at all.
*Mirroring (is most effective when given to small children, but can be provided at any age), is what we call ‘being seen’ – literally mirrored. It’s when someone is freely, accurately able to identify something about us & then feed it back without any distortion, without adding their opinion, tastes or bias, without their need for us to be a certain way….. just reflecting back to us who we are, the way we express ourselves, the way we see the world, the way we think or do things or feel…..
‘NOT KNOWING’ what we like or how to play
1. Having a parent who was:
• a drunk – whether active, hung over or temporarily dry – they weren’t paying attention to who we were or what we liked
• angry at having to be a parent at all, & left us too much alone, with little guidance, to figure things out for ourselves – way too young
• immature & needy, who overtly or by default expected us to take care of them, their needs & wants became our only concern
• overbearing, who demanded, coerced, manipulated or shamed us into only wanting/liking what they did, we never learned what our tastes are
• was mentally ill (especially the mother), there was chaos, great neglect & depression. He/she couldn’t be a role model for sane thinking – like processing info correctly, having options, thinking for ourselves or knowing our feelings & preferences
• died or went away (by divorce or deliberate disappearance), so the remaining one was too overwhelmed &/or busy working to pay attention
2. Re. Siblings – IF:
— one died before we were born, it was held up as the perfect model no other child could compete with
— one was always a bully, abusive, demanding
— one was physically or mentally ill, their problems the main parental focus
— one was a parental favorite, only what they liked had value
— we had to care for younger ones, only their needs counted
3. We Were:
• Blatantly discouraged from taking time out for ourselves
• Belittled for not knowing how to do something correctly – the 1st time! making us reluctant to try anything new, assuming we’re incapable of learning (too stupid) or that we’ll be punished & ridiculed
• Emotions were not acceptable, (some more unacceptable than others),so we had to shut down both our painful feelings as well as the joy
• Left alone so much that we felt abandoned & depressed, not motivated to entertain ourselves – except perhaps as a form of escaping painful emotions – not an ingredient for having fun!
• Never or rarely given the opportunity to do leisure activities as a kid
• Too anxiety-ridden to play – fearful, worried, confused, lost
• AND simply not allowed to relax & have a god time!
• Parents so depressed/ drunk/ sick/ scared…. making the atmosphere heavy, gloomy
• Perhaps no one in the family bothered to play with us, or show us the way by example, unless it was in unhealthy ways – going out on the town while leaving us alone, drunken parties at home that ended in verbal &/or physical fights, being unfaithful, hanging out with their buddies…
• Certain ‘leisure’ activities – that are supposed to be play or fun – were poisoned because they were forced on us – by parents, teachers, leaders, mates… Were you forced to practice an instrument? have sex with an inappropriate person you trusted or hated? take sports lessons you weren’t suited for or not interested in? OR did you have a limitation or disability which was made fun of in gym, on the playground, at home?
NEXT: ACoAs & PLAY-ing (Part 4)