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My Art Therapy Journey

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I wish that swallowing a multi would fix it all.  It swims down my insides and  bursts into my stomach with a jolt.  A shock…defibrillation. Everyday, the all clear comes…again, again, again.  Dissolving and resolving to resuscitate my cells.  No cell left unturned.  No man for himself.  Scratching out of form into my blood.  Giving into itself.  Singling out no one.  Saving the many lives within me.

 

Am I the only one who ever imagines a vitamin this way?

I am here because the pain is too much.  I participated in the recent routine of watching an episode of Breaking Bad with my husband and opening my mind to sleep, but my body isn’t cooperating.  The pain has been intense today…it has been growing all week.  Growing, growing so fast that I would like to graduate it on out of my body.  But then where would it go?  Into someone else’s body?  Maybe this pain is my way of helping, contributing in a way, to the world.

Maybe I should be able to help it that my body cannibalizes itself.  It scares me.  It stops me in my tracks.  There’s nowhere to go.  But here.  Here to cope.  Here to express.

Therapy of my making.

It does help me.  It helps to get it out.  And I’m ok with it as long as I stay responsible for it.  Responsible for how all this works itself out.

I’ve known a lot of hurting people in my life.  Scary people.  People who took their pain out on me.  And there is a part of me that does understand that now.  Maybe it’s a part of me that my multi-vitamin has reached and has  provided insight.  But mostly, the rest of me still suffers from other’s pain as it attempts healing.

I learned infliction so well though, I think.  So easy to administer…like with a spoon.

I try to make myself better, to stop the pain, and yank the spoon out of my hand.

But the hurting is still there.  It just moves, moving closer and closer to be fed.

It badgers me.

I will starve it.  Starve the pain until finally, even if slowly, it goes away.

Nourishment itself inflicts me.

 

My body tries to speak to me.  I try to listen.

It is hard to listen.

I crave art because it is the safest way to hear.   And the clearest.

I’m working on getting working in art.  It’s taking time, precious time.  Soon though.  It will be soon, and in the meantime, I build.  I create a space for it to live…to just be.

Thinking about this brings me some relief, even as the internal chewing of my flesh continues.

Some days are much better than this.   Some days I don’t hurt like this.  Some days there is relief.

And I will keep swallowing the pill.

Photos from a recent trip to the park…all of my park pictures so far are from the same section of path.

These remind me of bones….

I would rather my journey be all smiles.  Smiles are prettier.  Most people are attracted to a smiling face.  I know this is true, but the deeper-me wonders if there’s a chance some people could also possibly be drawn to truth…the whole truth.   And the truth is that I definitely am not always all-smiles.

Who is?

Sometimes it seems like people blogging about their supposed journey are all-smiles.  And maybe some of them actually are?  But I’m guessing sometimes they really aren’t smiling…even when you see them smiling in a pic-of-the-day on their blog.

Or maybe I’m just cranky today.

 

Well, anyway, this isn’t about anyone else’s journey and I’m not trying to criticize how anyone else copes with life.  I’m having a hard time surrendering my smile today because that’s what I want to be there…but what if it’s just not?   I’m just saying that I’ve gotten to a point where I can’t wear the smile all the time, the fake ones in-particular.  (And do the people who only ever shine a smiling face realize how depressed that makes the real people out there feel…because they aren’t always “smiling” like them?  Yes, a smile is always appreciated when genuine and I have no intention of being a Debbie-Downer (my name’s not Debbie, and I have no idea where that term came from so if your name is Debbie it’s nothing directed toward you, super-promise…but gah!  365 Days of Smiles? Well…maybe!  Maybe next year’s blog!!  (Seriously) Anyway, I’m getting off track and cheering myself up on accident, lol.)  Some days are really hard and I feel them as hard.  Ironically, I often feel better when I just acknowledge when maybe a day didn’t go as I had planned or hoped for it to go, which is always good.   I  do generally want to smile.

It’s a hard thing to contend with.  Desires and reality.  Hopes and disappointments.  Growing and acknowledging ample room to grow into maturity.

And maturity, wow…I always wanted to be mature when I was a little girl.  I just always wanted to be done with feeling so small…as in stupid…as in what I thought being emotional was.  I wanted to know things!  I wanted to know them and be them…’them’ meaning…wise.  Foresight.

Here I am…32, often feeling (and being) like such a little girl still, and learning by hindsight.  Maybe I’m old now and maybe I’m not old.  Age is so relative because whoever knows when the end of  life is?  Well, at least I think  it’s unknown when not at their own hand, and even in that scenario there can never be certainties…which on some days is the only thing that has kept me around this strange uncertain, yet certain, sphere of living.

I wasn’t really planning on writing any of this, so I have no idea what my unconscious might have blurted out here that I’m not ready to answer to…or that any of it follows a coherent line.   I was just going to post a couple of  self-portrait Instagram’s I took today of how I was feeling.

I wasn’t really in a “talking mood” when I started out.

I’m still not sure if I really am…?

 

Feelings From Today: The Truth

But I do feel better now! (Smile) 

For real.

Sadly, I have not been spending many hours trying to figure out Photoshop, or even messing around with Instagram.  BUT, I have been busy working!


Yesterday my “night job” duties (the time after my daughter goes to bed for the night) consisted of painting the basement….because!  Because it’s in the process of transforming into my studio! Yay!

I’m so excited to have a designated place that might be large enough to become a holding place for the art I crave to do.  I have a lot of plans for it, but mostly the plans are open and evolving as I speak.  I think I have an area picked out for metalworking and another corner space picked for painting…

It’s exciting to think about, but for now my most used studio supply is elbow grease!

Speaking of, I better get back to it since my daughter is down for nap and time does not hold back!

 

Some picks from the journey… 🙂

 

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All Hail the King!  I don’t know why I just said that other than I’m trying to refrain from saying OMG?

I just figured out that I can layer filters with Instagram!  My night job (my night job playing around with photos I took earlier in the day with Instagram) just became a lot more loaded.  Which means that with the knowledge of the power of layers I’ve just come across, I’m going to have to dedicate myself to learning Photoshop now because Instagram will be too small and slow to suffice.  How did the world ever get by on no layers at all…and then one single layer…and then….as many layers as I can imagine?

This is what I get for being an “old school” snob about all this photography business.  I completely deserve to not have known.

But now I know.

I wanted so much to not like digital.  I was doing so good too, with getting all the way into the middle of 2012 carrying rejection of digital with me.

But now the world has changed.  I’ve sunk ever closer to the big black hole of the digital darkroom…In fact, I’m running to it and slamming the door tight so nobody can disturb me here.

Phew.

It’s going to take me a while to process this….

Layers….Filters and Layers, people.  I’ve lived with them for years and nobody ever told me how cool they could be!

This will require the addition of several hours to each day for quite some time.

 

 

 

 

This will be a great way to explore filters and layers on the inside (of me.) But for now, the layer of me that made another recent discovery only a few days ago…a television series I discovered on Netflix called “Breaking Bad”…needs to go get that fix.   I never actually watch TV either…but I’m doing that now too, apparently.  And pretty happily so far, I might add. I’m going to go try to rot my brain quickly so I don’t get any more anxious about this.

 

Bite me, old school.  Sheesh.

I don’t have a lot of words today.  I guess it’s more about a relationship with where words come from.

Control, Option, Command

Escape

Delete, Enter, Return

Shift, Function, Control

Command, Option

For some reason these keys just connect with me right now.  I took these photos last night, initially by accident, when I was busy editing some other photos.  My iPhone’s camera opened up and staring at me were the “Command / Option” keys on my camera screen….They were/are right where I am.  I went exploring around my keyboard a bit and found there were a lot more clue keys about either where I am…or where I have been… at my fingertips.

There is something about creating that helps me feel complete.   It doesn’t always even matter what form the creation takes. Whether it’s making a meal or cake, assembling together found objects or piecing together fabrics…or turning a bit of what has been a place of darkness  in my life into something with more light.

The thing about creation is that it seems to follow you everywhere.  That’s what is so awesome about being alive.  For me, when I’m able to connect to creation in all its varied forms,  it makes living feel ok.  When I can open my eyes…when I am brave…light is everywhere in my life.

And I’m safe to feel.

***

This weekend I finally was able to complete a shelf I’ve been in the process of making for the last several weeks.  My projects still take 10 times as long as they potentially could due to all the creating I do as a mother. So, when something outside of  my  time creating as a mom is finished it gives me quite a rewarding feeling of accomplishment!

I’ve wanted a shelf for above our bed since we moved into this house.  It’s super simple construction, but simple and clean is what I was going for.  Well, simple and affordable really.  ; )   I had fun making it and I love all the little trips to the hardware store that even the teeniest projects (especially the building/woodworking kind) seem to inspire/require.

I LOVE hardware stores!

Here it is!

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By the way, I picked up those metal letters on HUGE sale at Hobby Lobby.  I know they have good sales pretty often, so if you like them and want something similar, or to spell out your own word, I’d check in there and wait around a bit for one to come around!  It’s like Pottery Barn on the a la’ cheap.  So you can make the furniture at home, all the while getting a bonus “creation high,” and pick up the accessories for a fair price!

I’m so excited to share someone else’s art that has influenced my life deeply today!

I started listening to Alanis Morissette in my early 20’s. I remember belting out her songs in my make-shift garage studio/office where I painted into the early morning hours when my first daughter was just a toddler, thoroughly enjoying myself even though I couldn’t hold a note.  What mattered was that I had the freedom to sing!  My (now EX) husband worked 3rd shift which meant it was just me and music and art in those solemn hours between 11pm and 7am.   It wasn’t Alanis’ popular “Jagged Little Pill” that did it for me.  I really loved “Under Rug Swept.”    I think I connected with every song on that album in some way, but there were a few that I blasted out on repeat.  One of them was “Utopia” and another was “21 Things I Want in a Lover.”    I divorced my husband in 2002…and I can’t say for sure, but maybe these two songs, in particular, had something to do with me coming to a point where I chose to face the world on my own…without him.

There is a lot of art I could create about my relationship with my ex-husband, but that’s not where my focus is today….

TODAY…it’s about the present.

I have watched and waited for years for Alanis to release a new album.  And I have been hopeful that when she did I would once again be gifted with music that reached into my life and being.  Music that I could belt out at 2am that would help me get to “morning.”

So I’m ecstatic to share that she’s done it again!

She’s one of my “Liked” artists on Facebook, so I’ve known a while that she’s been working on stuff through status updates on her page.  I have been hoping, hoping, HOPING that my voice could return with her in her new release to the place I had been with her in my 20’s, but in relation to the environment I am creating at this point in my life…this present time.

I eagerly listened to the single the moment I saw it was out…titled “Guardian

Right on!

I listened to and read the lyrics…”yes, yes…yes! ” I thought!  I got this!

And then Alanis posted this clip about her inspiration…..!!

And yeah, I’m pretty sure she didn’t write this song just for me, but if I saw her in person I think I’d say to Alanis “Hey sister, thanks for writing this for me!”  : P  Like, somehow our hearts and brains are intergalactically linked and as she was writing she was thinking of me even if she didn’t know it.

Really good musicians can selectively have this connection with their fans, right? : )  So thanks, Alanis, for choosing me to have your connection with this time.

Oh…oh oh oh!  And get this!  You won’t believe what her new album to be released in August is titled….ready for it!?

“HAVOC AND BRIGHT LIGHTS”

 

I believe I need not say more 😉

 

This is a picture of the ceiling in our “breakfast nook.”

Yesterday a piece of the ceiling was removed

The other day when I noticed our ceiling coming apart, I realized we had a leak.

What you see is the floor to our second story and pipes that transport water from upstairs.

Nobody could figure out where the leak was coming from.

The plumber came and took a guess.  He dismantled our toilet…

…but his guess was wrong.  We then had a bad leak in addition to no toilet.

He wouldn’t reinstall our toilet without charging us $750 dollars to fix it because it hadn’t originally been installed “to code,” even though that’s not where the leak was from.

I told the plumber to leave.  Without re-installing the toilet, thank you.

My husband had the friend that helped remodel our house come over to find the source of the problem.

They fixed it while I was at book club.  All better.

This morning my husband took a shower.  And I took a bath.

…When I fell into the slip-and-slide on the breakfast nook floor.

It’s still leaking.  We think we know it’s from the shower.  But the leak is a mystery.

***

THIS IS A PICTURE OF ME.

I have a leak.

 

It happens sometimes after I put my daughter down for a nap.

 

The water comes from someplace deep inside my soul…and leaves a path that is hard to trace.

 

I’m not sure if I will ever find the true source of tears.

 

 

And if I do…if it will be repairable.

 

The questions and concerns grow as I sit…exposed.

 

 

 

 

 

Nobody chooses a mental disorder.  If I could pick mine, I probably wouldn’t have the one I have.  And, I really don’t think anyone wakes up in the morning and says, “Hey!  I know what I want for today!  I want to special  order a nightmare of after-effects that are a result of abuse I’ve experienced in my life!”

No, I really don’t think that’s the way it goes.

Because I’ve been thinking lately, “Can we just be done now?”

I have to ride the wave, and sometimes it’s true…the wave is a great adventure.  “Great” is a very subjective term.

And some things about living with the brain altered experience of a formerly abused mind, body and spirit can be subjective too.  Such as, “How will I live this day of madness?”

There is some choice in how I live my days.  Sometimes there is even a lot of choice.  Sometimes making that choice comes with an enormous amount of pain and struggle…but, I don’t think the trouble with making  choices is reserved solely for people with a brain condition or someone living the effects of abuse.  (Although, it can certainly add an extra ounce of oomph to the process!…and at times call for extra support through a qualified and emotionally mature and plain ol’ good-hearted and kind therapist.)

That’s part of why I believe art therapy is such a universal part of living.  Art is so central to the human condition, not just conditions that provoke a person to cut off their ear.

I guess I’m trying to say a lot of things here.  I’m saying sometimes in life there are choices even within the place of no choice…for everyone.

Some days I choose to feel.  Some days I choose to not feel.  But the feelings are always there….I don’t think there’s a lot of choice about that.  Being human is like that.

For a long time I have chosen to not feel.  And for a while I made that choice, even if subconsciously, so I could survive all the feelings swarming around and through me.

I’m entering a new place.  I’d say it’s an in-between place.

There’s not a lot of words to this place yet.  I just hang on to the light and what it reveals…It seems like I am in the process of seeing a lot along my personal journey lately, although I can’t always quite make out what an image is.  Engaging in life through art has been a safe place for me to explore this unknown.

Today…I choose feeling.  I choose life.  I choose hope.  I choose light.

Thankfully, these things are making a home in my chest and not so much my brain.

Today I am brave, which is not always my natural condition, but is just as much part of the human condition as all the rest, none-the-less.

These photos are from a family walk at the park yesterday….

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Me and my daughter went on another photo-taking extravaganza today, and it’s final…I’m thinking of moving to Instagram.  Because everything is cool in Instagram.  I think my eyes have acquired Instagram lenses.  I think in Instagram.

Now, I know I am a little behind the times.  I know Instagram is probably old news to some people, but I, for one, sometimes find myself in losing battles, lol.  Like…digital photography, for instance.  I took a photography class in 2002 and learned how to do the “real deal” and vowed it was far too amazing of a world to cheapen it with instantcy. (Which I think might only be a word because I just made it be one.)

But now, well…look at me now.

Now, I am not only in favor of digital…but iPhone digital?  And Instagram?  Like a cheap, uneducated version of Photoshop!?  Oh my goodness, I’m sure I’m offending someone right now.  Am I?  Omg. I’d like to make friends here!

Well, anyway, imagine I never offended you (if I’ve offended you) and imagine I just said…”I’m old school.”  Because that’s what I really mean.  I like to get my hands dirty, or in the case of photography…clean.  I like to dip my hands in chemical and feel the rush of it right up into the cells of my brain and then wash it all away with water and watch things transform in my hands.  I probably have some kind of God complex.  Is there such a thing known to exist?  I mean, there is something SO powerfully wonderful about creation.

I’m not saying digital isn’t creation and isn’t wonderful.  It is!  I even want to  live in Instagram, for goodness sake.

I think I’ve said  enough.

Yes, enough.

On with the show!

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(Note: Many of these photos tell a story or have a string of words behind them, so they may reappear at a later date with more to say here.  For now, we’re doing good (and I’m so grateful)  to have the time to get this far!   : )   …But, until I’m back with my stories, feel free to use these photos as prompts for your own! 🙂  (After all, I don’t want to keep my God complex all for myself.)