Sunday, October 15, 2006

Reframing an Addiction

If you are not familiar with the term “reframing,” it is a therapeutic word that means to shift the perspective from one way of looking at a thing to a different way. We use specific words to show our attitudes and beliefs about things. If I say that a child is hyperactive, you get a different impression than when I say a child is spirited, even though the behavior may be exactly the same. To say I am a victim of abuse is very different than to say I’m a survivor.

I’m not talking about political correctness although I guess that’s one way it can play out. The new word or perspective needs to connect with a basic feeling or belief that one has held, usually about oneself. Some of my most powerful moments in counseling have occurred over these kinds of shifts. The shame-filled memory of how I wasn’t strong enough or brave enough to protect my sister from my dad becomes the knowledge that it was never an eleven-year-old’s job to do such a thing. When reframing, you see a piece of the truth you did not see before. Like the term suggests, the frame shifts; a new image slides into place, and suddenly something you believed all your life to be true is shown to be inaccurate. That changes lives.

I know from your comments that many of you understand that responsible self-care (caring for yourself as you would for a dear friend) is never selfish in the negative sense of that word. Many people will tell you that it is extremely selfish to take care of yourself well when others around you have so many needs. But once you’ve begun to learn the tough lesson of how to take kind care of yourself, you know that it is one of the most loving things you can do for the others in your life.

Okay, so how does this apply to knitting? Because I believe that it does apply to knitting. Doesn’t everything?

In the knitting world, we call ourselves shameless hussies, harlots, junkies. We cheat on our projects. We lust after each new colour and fiber that comes along. We are hopelessly addicted, obsessive-compulsive yarnaholics.

See where I’m going?

BUT…before you get the wrong idea. I wouldn’t change a thing about that wording. I love it – it’s hilarious and fun, and it takes knitting straight out of the world of grannies in rockers (bless them too, every one of them) and into the world of danger, risk and intrigue. It turns knitters into an edgy force to be reckoned with. I like being right in the middle of such a rebellious, up-yours kind of crowd.

However, I also know that there is a fair bit of guilt and apologetics that go along with the whole yarn acquisition fetish. Here’s what I think. When a person is an artist, we don’t beat up on them for wanting more colours for their painting. When new textures and mediums and surfaces come along, no one is surprised when an artist expands outward to try all that is possible. That is an admirable part of artistic expression. Imagine telling a painter that they already have too many colours – and that they really should stick to working with what’s in stock and not to bother experimenting with anything else. Imagine telling a musician not to try any more new songs. Oh the outrage.

This morning, I was wondering to myself why I jump from project to project, why I must start something with a new yarn that comes to my door, despite having several other projects in the works. It’s not that I never finish things. I have no trouble completing things once I’ve decided to. For me, it is an issue of having to get my hands into each new weight and feel and spin and colour. My hands just have to go exploring, have to discover what this new fiber is made of and what it can do. Maybe we’re all yarn-junkies craving another fix, but we are also fiber artists, and we need an ever-expanding range of colour and texture to express ourselves.

My counselor says that if I was to take my entire stash of yarn and dump it all into one huge pile and take a picture of it (I’m tempted to do this), I would have a wonderful image of the depth of my hunger and longing for all good things. This is a universal hunger, by the way. We all long for peace, wholeness, goodness, home, belonging and love. My drive to collect and work with beautiful yarns is simply one of the ways I’ve found to express this hunger in a tangible way.

Oh…and what’s stopping me from creating my yarn mountain memorial? Too damn lazy.

PS. More Stuff 'n Nonsense in the post below.


Rosie Perera said...

Hey, wow! That's exactly how I feel about books. Thank you for giving me a helpful way to reframe what I sometimes feel guilty about as an addiction.

Evelyn said...

Hi Jayne
I have never read your blog before tonight but I have always read with interest all your posts on the Elann site. I must say that I have never read such an interesting blog....
As I read all the posts about your life and your additction to knitting, I can see myself in you.
I truly believe that if we lived closer, we would be good friends and I mean very understanding friends who would be supportive of one another.
You may have read my very few posts on the Elann site. I think you have a great blog which is here to serve up a friendly informative and interesting "picture" of your inermost thoughts. Keep up the good work and I will be reading daily.

Karin said...

Very well put - I think we often need a different frame of reference when speaking about ourselves and our hobbies, or other.

Trish - My Merino Mantra said...

Love your post, Jayne. In my circles, we call reframing miracles...a paradigm shift, seeing things in a different light, etc. I believe we are all artists here, otherwise we wouldn't have knitting blogs, or be reading knitting blogs. The fact that I have never been published, doesn't mean I am not a writer or a poet. I don't need verification from a university which purports to "teach" or taint me into writing a certain way, or which doles out art degrees, in order to get self satisfaction from my art. I don't knit for competiton, and I don't need permission to buy more yarn. I get sheer joy from knitting, and l am so grateful that I have finally found others which are on the same page as me, and are as passionate about it as I.

jayne said...

Thank you, Evelyn, for your very kind comments. I know who you are -- I've read your bio and posts at Elann. Welcome here!

Trish, I agree with everything you've said. I still sometimes fall into the trap of seeking to get my "ticket stamped" by other people. But your words are straight truth. Paradigm shift -- yes, same thing. Love that term, BTW.

junior_goddess said...

My stash IS in a mountain. I feel like your therapist gave me a "get out of jail free" card. YAY!

jayne said...

"Get out of jail free" I LOVE it!!!