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My Art Therapy Journey

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Tonight I made it through my first Art History test of my entire life…ever.  I’m not counting past lives since those details are still emerging.  I sure hope I get far enough in this life to take my last Art History test ever…at the end of all the Art History classes I can possibly take.

Art History : Love as Test Taking : Not Love.  I’m trying to get in my rational mind now. (So I hope I got  that right.  Equations and logic aren’t always my thing.)

I learned tonight I’m a crier.  I used to be so stoic about crisis.  But after I got through a half-day of intense preliminary irritability, crying is all I have wanted to do.  I wanted to cry before, during, and after my test tonight.

 

And I’m glad I doubled up a few days ago on my exercise routine because I celebrated with a trip to Burger King.

That’s right.

 

Maybe I knew this was coming?

 

I have craved a thin (Thin, I like the thin ones) juicy fast-food hamburger all week.  It’s a far cry from my regimented allotment I give myself of rice cakes and protein bars everyday.  Sometimes I do splurge and have almond milk.

So when I drove into the lane-of-no-return and ordered that Whopper I knew I had pulled off something big tonight.  Maybe even life-changing.  Something is growing inside me.

I craved fast food burgers the entire time I was pregnant with my oldest daughter.

Correlation?

**

Deeper into the story you would know the last time I signed up for an Art History I ended up with an extended hospital stay before I made it to my first test.

That was in 2006.

It’s like returning to the scene…

Art History didn’t put me in the hospital, but it was the hardest thing to give up.   Having to let it go killed me.

I’ve come to reclaim my soul.

 

Everything is still there where I left it except I have moved from the third row back and to the right of the room to the front row and to the left.

 

I don’t want to be distracted.  I intend to live.

This time it’s just me and art alone in a dark room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The trail I’m on is dodgy right now.  I can’t keep up with myself, I’m thirsty and with every step the path tries to disappear beneath my feet.  Paranoia creeps in.  I can’t trust anything or anyone, especially me.  I question myself repeatedly and I never answer back.  There is a call with no return.  I want to hide.  I’m not sure who I am talking to.  The main part of life is a strange veneer lifting off from the surface of a screen…no front or back.

Are parts like this where it’s just important to go through the motions?  There are parts where there doesn’t need to be any real meaning beyond staying alive, I suppose.  Even when life floats like a ghost?

 

The last time I had a massage I was told I needed “a lot of work.”

I am repelling touch.

 

A couple of days ago I had a freak-out session and had to double-up on my daily dance in front of the television.  My toddler knows what it means when I say in a sing-songy voice “Mommy’s gotta ex-ser-size!”  I was so tired, but I had to go until I couldn’t feel anymore.  She crawls on me, bounces in motion with me, and tries to eat my exercise mat.

 

While I’m occupied with that there’s a thick Art History book sitting in the corner on the desk.  I do a few more squat-thrusts to try to calm my anxiety.  About what…I don’t know.

 

My teenager calls and comes over to the house bearing gifts for me from her recent trip to the Gulf Coast with her dad.  My God, how I love her.  How it frightens me to know she was once a toddler too.  And I, her mom.  She’s too beautiful to have come from me.  “And too normal,” I think to myself.  Normal in that extraordinary teenager way.  Growing up.

 

I want to talk to somebody, but there’s no one around.

I don’t know why there’s nobody around other than I’ve always been too scared to have anybody around.

I’m scared to go grocery shopping.

Too many people.

 

There’s been a lot of fighting lately.  Maybe I’ll get a divorce.   Maybe I’ll go nowhere.

 

I take vacations.  I fantasize compulsively and obsessively through websites advertising retreats,  engaging me in the promise of wisdom and adventure, release and grounding.  I over-analyze dates and costs and reality.  It takes me away for a while.

Away for a while.

 

Away for a while.

 

Away.

This evening I came to a crossroads.  I was at Old Navy trying to use up a coupon set to expire today.  The intersection between me and me was in the changing room.

I will try to explain:

The summer stuff is on clearance, so I decided to try on some $5 shorts to preemptively save some money and beat the rush for next summer.  (Or maybe I decided to try them on as a plea to the weather for it to stay warm a lot longer than September usually allows around here. )

Anyway, I was standing there.  Having tried on the shorts and seeing that they fit me, the debate began.  The “What now!?” debate. Should I buy them?

I’m always much more relieved when things actually don’t fit so I don’t have to go through the list of scenarios that might arise if I do buy something vs. if I don’t buy something.  I walk tall out of the changing room because I’ve escaped (or won?) the battle once again.  But not tonight.

Tonight started up the “Will I regret this later?” thing.  The “What’s the return policy?” thing and the “Can I  justify this purchase to my husband?” thing. ( There are these questions among others….I’m the person occupying a changing room concerningly motionless for at least 30 minutes, lost in debate, before facing the world again.)

So, shortly before closing tonight at an Old Navy store in Midwest USA it dawned on me…the acceptance between me and me.  The understanding is this: I have no idea what size I will be by next summer, and more importantly than even that… I have no idea who I will BE by next summer.

I stood there looking at these shorts…shorts that I would wear today.  I looked at my hair…the color, style, length so suburbanish.  I looked at my body…a body that’s begged to be covered in far more tattoos.  I looked inside me…changing.  But changing into what…into WHO?!

I was standing there in the changing room actually changing before my eyes!

I realized my need to live and be present in the moment, and maybe it’s something that I’m acquiring now that won’t change about me later.  Maybe it’s the beginning of becoming who I am…who I am meant to be!

My size has changed in the last quarter of a year so that a lot of my clothes don’t fit me anymore.  I’ve always been a jeans and t-shirt sort of girl, but now that I’m faced with needing to pick a few things up I’m finding myself drawn to wanting a more definitive style.  A style that says…”This is ME.”  Recognizable.   One with personality.

And I’ve thought, “Wow, this would be a lot easier if I knew who I was.”  I could go into a store and know what to look for.  I would know my style and go right to it.  I could streamline things and do a way less psychotic seeming mix and match.    Then I think about being 32 and still figuring out this stage most teenagers are in.  I think about being the mother of a teenager myself, now, and I get really freaked out about the state I’m in.

I’m 32 going on 13!

(My teenage daughter is 14.  She’s already ahead of me.)

 

So…I didn’t buy the shorts tonight.  It’s only the beginning of Fall.  Winter is still to come and next summer is a long way off.  (Anyway, didn’t I write a post a while back about my irritation about the 2013 calendars being for sale already?)  I said, “Nice knowing ya,” and gave them back to the woman putting away  clothing people had tried on that didn’t fit…

Sometimes things fit and you’re not sure if you want them to fit…in a life way.

Sometimes you get to choose what you’re going to wear like you get to chose who to be.

I’m in a state of evaluating and making decisions.

The cool thing about this  life is that, at least to some degree, it can be changed. It’s an evolving creation.  A malleable gift.

It feels like this process of finding myself is a gift that got inadvertently pushed under the Christmas tree skirt only to be discovered once the festivities have passed. I feel like I am unwrapping (and being unwrapped) and shaping (and being shaped) all at the same time.  And some kid (me), after thinking she was forgotten and left-out, is finding the experience of life redeemed.

I know this song is about other things, but now it keeps popping in my head now…

 

 

I need to not wait so long between posts.  I need continuity.  I sway in and out between darkness and light and I need to record the wave somewhere.

Today I’m feeling a bit defeated because I came home from school to hear my toddler’s babysitter tell me  “I just keep hearing the universe telling me to change and I  think one of those changes is that I’m going to bail on you and your daughter.”   She didn’t use the word “bail,” of course.  But that’s what it is.  I can’t blame her for being a 23-year-old clown, really.

I’m not being derogatory.  She is a clown and actually quite proud of it. She’s recently back from clown school. It was one of the things about her that caused me to want to hire her in the first place.  But it turns out I don’t think she actually likes being with kids all day.

I don’t feel defeated because the universe is apparently against me. (ha!) I’m feeling more defeated because during the course of our conversation she made sure to get into all of my tender spots about STILL not being graduated from college.  I felt like telling her she was awfully young to go for the part of playing Cruella Deville.   But I can’t blame her for being ignorant either.  If I acknowledge her perspective on my life as ignorance and not arrogant cruelty then I might have a little more patience for her to pack it up.

Well, maybe I’m still jaded after-all.

I thought I was going to be able to come here and announce that had passed.

Maybe not.

I’ve discovered feelings.

Rather, I’ve discovered rawness.

I feel stripped and searched.  Lately it feels like the world (the universe?) is pinching and grabbing at me, probing me.  Gross.

It seems like there’s not many places in the world for rawness.  Am I hurting anyone by being raw?

I think it bothers people a lot.

Ok, it bothers me.

I know who I want to be, but I’m not there yet.  And Lord help me the day I ever say I’ve arrived.  This life, for me, is not supposed to be about arriving.

Most certainly it’s about the journey.  That’s why I’m here.

School is in full-swing now.  The Line-Up: Ceramics, Art History-Renaissance to Modern,  Adobe Illustrator,  Photoshop.

I’m only in a little over my head.  I might have several weeks before I’m completely under.

I’m enjoying it, but probably only in the way rawness and joy really go together.

It’s a challenge.  It’s hard.  My brain and heart both feel like they are at capacity, but that might only mean they will soon grow bigger with space to be even more full?

Growing isn’t easy.   Anyone who has really ever grown or is growing would probably get that.

Breaking open is not all-the-way comfortable. But staying stalled, while it has its advantages, doesn’t really get you too far.

The thing about life being a journey  is that the end is never really reached, but it requires constant movement toward that place to be the journey it’s meant to be.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign (Found at the local zoo)