Imagine that your day starts not as normal as everyone else’s, but like a daily fight with your own mind and your own thoughts. Most people don’t understand how difficult it is to deal with a mental disorder and facing its daily symptoms. For people with CPTSD, life is a fight, and CPTSD is the greatest battle. In order to go through this tremendous battle, there should be reasons to move forward and sources of even trickles of positive energy.
It’s not simple and easy. Every step is difficult, your mind is broken, but all the fears need to be distracted and released. The best way to do that is keeping your mind busy and occupied with something more engaging, like woodworking. The process of making a wooden piece, like a jewelry box, and start out of nothing, make people believe they have a purpose and are able to change things.
Taking something broken and creating something new
The simple effect of taking a broken furniture, feeling it, giving it a new shape, and creating a new life of a new furniture can cause healing and a change in the way one sees things. That’s exactly what happened to Mierop Mann.
Receiving abuse and continued triggers from his own family up until he was 40 years old, Mierop eventually decided to leave that life behind. Even if meant saying goodbye to all he’s known all his life and even his own business; and despite him not being ready for the journey ahead, he still went and did it anyway. He experienced difficulty in trying to wrap his head around the viciousness of his family and the alienation that happened to him. It was then that his anger and confusion grew, two major symptoms of his CPTSD, and only found a way to bring balance calmness into his life through woodworking.
His current work involves him working on furniture, which started when he has an opportunity to make something out of a broken piece of furniture. Transforming that furniture and gluing together wooden shapes to make a pattern gave him an exhilarating feeling, although he admitted there was a scary feeling, too.
Chapters of healing
For Mierop, his healing came in chapters, and every piece that he works on is a new one. Just like a movie, every chapter has an introduction, too. His experience with woodworking included being taken on a journey of reflecting on the different stages of his life, and the associated trauma that comes with the memories.
It was like revisiting his childhood struggles—in fact, even as an adult, his inner-child was struggling to find the light at the end of the tunnel of abuse. And woodworking was what saved him from his conflicted existence. Although he treats every piece he makes as a different chapter, he couldn’t pick which one is his favorite. “Every piece is a favorite,” he said.
In every furniture that is created, Mierop feels validated and even more alive, excited to do more of it. It was like a series of “painstaking therapeutic furniture challenges” which stirred from deep within him the balance of creativity and passion. The experience was liberating for him, especially as every piece unfolded in front of him through his passion.
Finding the passion within yourself
Mierop’s own experience has taught him a lot of things about his past struggles, his own healing, but most importantly, the value of creative passion. While he can only speak from his experience, this is something he firmly believes in: “Creativity can’t be taught, passion can’t be bought.” For those feeling a nudge or a gut feeling that urges them towards woodworking, if you see the possibility of a passion growing within you for this creative path, then do it.
Woodworking is like living your life in many ways–exerting countless efforts, trying all over again when a mistake is made, but when you get a final piece, the emotion that goes with it can’t be described. You only need to feel it.
That emotion is something that can distract you. Sometimes, it can put a shadow over the bad feelings at least for a moment. And sometimes, it can take you to a whole journey of bringing peace within yourself, healing the scars of the past, and taming the turmoil that you have lived with. With regular therapy and help of woodworking or any other art, things can become clear again and each brand new day can be something you’ll look forward to. You just need to try.
Guest Post Submitted by Robert Johnson.
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This is beautifully written. It’s inspirational and rings true to my journey. A must read.