Ring making has changed me. It’s more than just the physical process of making the rings. The whole “shebang” if you will, of owning and running this business has had a profound impact and left an indelible mark on my life. I may not do this forever, but I will never be the same because of it. When I came into this process I was weak, hurting, barely able to function normally. Making jewelry was an escape. It was the one thing I looked forward to – my happy place.

When I first started, I had a little box with all my implements and I used to carry it around with me everywhere I went, especially if I was going to be around people. I would sit and create things while others were socializing. It helped me get through the stress I was experiencing at that time in my life about being in the presence of others. I just wanted to be invisible – so strongly that I remember the crushing feeling of sitting in a room where people might be looking at me. I felt the weight of their gaze, even if it was an imaginary gaze. I felt so much shame and disturbance about my own presence that to even think about others seeing me was almost too much to bear. It felt to me as though they could see right into my soul; that they could see my thoughts and feel my shame. I later was able to describe the sensation to close friends. Every time I walked into a room with people who knew me, it felt as though each of them was holding up a mirror in which I could see myself as I thought they saw me. I know now that what I was seeing was a distorted vision of myself, not as they saw me, but as I was seeing myself.

The self-loathing I experienced as a result of feeling rejected by my spiritual community and by my daughter was like a heavy weighted dark thick blanket over my head and shoulders that caused my spirit to be hunched over; it caused me to stumble; it blinded me. Making the jewelry was when the blanket was lifted. Creating things of beauty was deeply satisfying; the physical process of hammering, twisting, and cutting the metal set my mind free to go to places of beauty, to escape from its’ prison of shame. Sometimes I would think hopeful thoughts of what my future could be; sometimes I would feel safe enough to dig into my current experience and try to start making sense of it.

And selling the things I had made online gave me the chance to interact with people “safely”. Where I would not have been brave enough to be face to face with people, having an online store let me make connections in ways that I could handle. Almost every part of the process of having a shop was a way to build a connection with others. Answering questions for potential and current customers challenged me to communicate in a way that gave the message: “I care about you.” Taking photos that accurately and attractively presented the things I had made was my way of showing my heart: I love these things and I want to share them with you. Once I had received an order, it was my opportunity to create something special for a specific person, and in so doing pour my good wishes and care and love of beauty into this little piece of artwork in such a way that it would carry all those feelings inside it and deliver not only itself but a complete package of love to the intended recipient. Even the packaging way of reaching out – you are special, here’s a gift for you to enjoy opening, to enjoy the tactile experience of opening, untying, unwrapping, removing layers to find the treasure inside.

This constant process of connection with people who were interested in my creative process was a lifeline to healing for me. It did not happen immediately, but it did open the doors to wholeness and kept them open, waiting patiently as I slowly made baby steps of progress.

Written by Tina Gasperson

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