limb. Her creations were prostheses. She could not allow personal initiative in which she, not the other person, would be the possessor of the production. When creation is not possible without someone else to share it, the art process shifts into someone else's hands. Whether the fear of creation comes from a general fear of being out of control, fear of being different, fear of aloneness, or fear of the selfishness in attending to ourselves, we will suffer inhibition in the creative aspects of living.16
It may reassure us to remember that creativity's deepest impulse, its living strength, is essentially linked to freedom. The creative act whose end is the restoration of our own integrity will be more beneficial to us. But all creative acts bring us closer to our own integrity by giving us a psychic completeness and allowing us to overcome gaps and deficiencies in our past, in our upbringing, and in our maturation. Creative acts can heal, by our own means, damage caused by others.
I have not touched on the severe problems of sexual and physical exploitation, families in which drugs and alcohol were abused, parents who were violently destructive, and other appalling experiences. I have not forgotten them. Rarely a day goes by when I am not talking about the terrible results of these problems with men and women, but this is not the place for them. A cursory glance at problems of abuse is an insult; it diminishes the complexity involved in understanding them and ignores the work involved in healing them. So I knowingly sidestep the more severe problems. Some of the women interviewed did come from very disturbed families; most did not. Creative living does not require a fantastic family, but a good beginning helps. All families have legacies, good and bad, but in the middle years, if life is to remain our own, we must make headway on any problems that have resurfaced or have been ignored until this time.
Julia Cameron, in The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, recalls a wonderful, old, hostile question: "But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano/act/paint/write a decent play? Yes -- the same age you will be if you don't. So let's start."17