Info

My Art Therapy Journey

Posts tagged connection

I don’t know how darkness can be so invisible.

But sometimes it is precisely because of its invisibility that darkness becomes itself.

 

When I was a teenager I had a conversation with the darkness once.  I suppose I was a little headstrong, a little unruly.  The invisible darkness was the only real force I could rebel against.  I definitely wasn’t going to try to rebel against my mother or father.  In hindsight, that might have been the better path.  (Not that I hope my teenager ever sees that sentence!) But for me, it might have been quicker path into light.

 

Instead, I stepped, unknowingly, deeper into the pits of emptiness in my effort to be good enough for them…and for me.  Really, to be good at all, but mostly to be good-enough for anyone I though might love me if I performed well.  Perfectly.

 

My hand was asked in marriage at 16.   And I said yes to the man who was 15 years older than me.  And so did my parents.

I bought my own wedding dress with money I earned myself.  $300 at David’s Bridal.

I was a childcare worker.  I made $8 an hour (I later realized taxes weren’t taken out so when I reported my wages I was taxed more than I ever earned, but that’s another story,) which was a huge salary (hourly) increase from my $7.25 I made at the dry cleaners and I loved children.

Except for later I learned I didn’t really love myself…and neither did anyone else.  But not because they didn’t want to.  Because they just couldn’t.  I can’t entirely blame them.  So I can’t entirely blame myself for everything that happened either.

 

But about that conversation with darkness.  I remember it still.  I remember laying on my bed in my bedroom in the apartment I was living in with my mother.  It was after a fight.  I’m not sure if it was abuse.  I thought abuse only happened to children at the time, and I didn’t consider myself a child.  It was just a fight, and probably my fault.  I don’t remember the source of the fight that day.  I only remember the conversation I had after it while I laid in my room where I could never bring myself to sleep.  (I slept in the living room on the 2 cushion sofa every night with my neck propped curiously forward on the armrest.)   I remember my mom telling me I should sleep in my bed because I was breaking down the couch.  But I slept there for almost a year (the amount of time I lived there) anyway.  So maybe I did rebel some.

 

I keep getting away from the darkness.    Or do I?   (Sometimes the question has to be asked.)

The darkness and my conversation.  It was a little one-sided with me doing a lot of the talking, but the darkness doesn’t always talk in words.  The darkness isn’t always nearly as direct.  It likes to be more like a covering over everything so it becomes a mass so encompassing it can be hard to determine where it ends and begins, or to see it at all.

 

In this conversation, in my contempt, in my teenage righteousness and belief that I could surmount anything if given the time, I told the darkness, “You will never win.  You will never get me.  No matter what you do to me, I will never give you my soul.  You can beat me down, but you can’t have ME.  Never.  Never.  NEVER.  Over my dead body will you win.”

 

And so….I hadn’t learned yet….about the light…and about Life With Light.

I didn’t know what it was going to be about.

I didn’t know what was ahead of me.

I didn’t know all the…all the….things.

I didn’t know.

 

But as I look back on that “conversation” today, I sometimes feel like it was the first conversation where I was ever listened to and believed.  And I figured if  I believed the Light could see my heart that maybe the darkness could too, and it would be so clear that I was invincible.   I already could feel so little.

 

But I didn’t know.  I didn’t know.  I didn’t know.  I didn’t know.

 

And so this head-strong, heart-strong girl spent a lot of time learning a lot of different things about what can be seen and what can’t.

And about how remarkably presumptuous I was.

 

I worked to make the right decisions.  I always wanted to do the right things.

But what do you do when doing all the “right” things turns out to be wrong?

 

What do you do?

 

Sometimes you lose faith.  But that comes much later, after you realize maybe you made the wrong decisions about which (or whose) faith to follow.

 

Oh so many things.  So many, many, many many many horrendous things.

 

But the horror tonight should be about Halloween parties.  Because that is where horror belongs.

And I am starting to put all the horror and darkness that has existed, that has practically been my life up to this point, where it belongs.

 

Off of me.

 

So tonight there is no covering over who I really am.  This is me.

Sometimes it’s scary.  Especially for me when I look into that magic ball and see where I have been.

I look toward  and forward to the future, but I don’t look to know about it all ahead of time.  After all, time does not like to be raced.

I didn’t know before, and even with all that I didn’t know about and the perilous journey I was on (but didn’t know I was on, at the time) I still work on just being present where I am in this day, in this moment.  It is the only place I can be me.  Right here with myself is the only place I can be good enough.

 

I was thinking about this tonight after me and my husband’s first couples session (for the 2nd time)  (and this is my second marriage) with a new couple’s therapist.  I was, more specifically, thinking about this after we returned home from our session and after the “fight”  we had later.

 

I’m calling this phase of the journey, Operation Light.  I googled it and it doesn’t exist yet 😉  Of course, now it does.  So you can join this Operation of Light with me! 🙂

Life With Light: “Operation Light” ….I can see it in….lights, now. 😉

That proposes that it will work.

Operation Light is about infusing Light where ever darkness is even remotely suspected.  There’s no danger is suspecting darkness to be everywhere.  It is not possible to overdose on Light.

It will work….I’m talking to the Light about it right now.

 

I have had a little shift in my approach toward life.  I am learning to address the Light.  The darkness is not worth my time, and definitely not worth me.  And it’s not worth you either.  I just love people, and I can’t help it.  I was well-meaning when I tried to fight against the darkness rather than focus on fighting FOR the Light….I was young and perhaps a bit ostentatious.

 

But the Light has helped me see that…ever so gently, of course.  That’s the way of the Light.  Because the Light actually did know what was inside me and behind my efforts.

 

So when it seems dark and insurmountable, don’t give up.

Don’t ever, ever give up.  ” Operation Light” Lovers never give up unless they are giving it up to the Light. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

A couple of days ago I made a connection with someone who left me asking, “What if…?” The “…” are representative because there are so many endings to that question.  I guess the “What if’s” are different for everyone.

I feel full of possibilities.  “What if…everything?”

In my life I haven’t always been sure that staying alive was the right thing to do.  And I mean “staying alive” in a more of a way than just the mechanics of breathing. Even breathing in a way that keeps the body going can be a challenge sometimes, but  I’m really talking about keeping my heart alive.  Passion, hope, love.  There is risk in living with light.  The body can die, but the heart can be devastated when something important goes wrong.

Things have gone wrong before.  I’ve had opportunities to give up at times when people might not have even judged it as a weakness, and I would have liked to have taken my break.

Somehow there’s always been something keeping me going.  A resuscitation, I guess.   Maybe that’s when the light has taken the driver’s seat. Admittedly, on the really hard days I haven’t always been grateful for that force so dedicated to my continuation.

But then there are days with connection, mystery and magic…that grow my spirit enough to help me feel I can support the energy of life again on my own.  But never, of course, completely on my own since those are the days I am most lifted up.

Those days are the ones with rainbows.  That unexpected gift of communication when I’m looking for convincing evidence that it’s safe to come out and interact again even though the clouds are still foreboding.

So…what if I am safe?

What if…my life matters?

What if…I have something worth sharing?

What if…I’m not alone?

What if…everything has a reason?

What if…I can’t find a reason, but it all matters anyway?

What if my story was meant to be heard?

What if the beginning really is a very good place to start?

What if?

What if?

What if?

 

If you’re wondering who this someone is who inspired these questions this time, it is a film maker named Mary Trunk who is now editing her most recent documentary titled Lost In Living…Here is a brief description of this film I’m so grateful for and link to a generous 10 minute Trailer which I found on Kickstarter.  This is a film filled with passion and honesty which I feel privileged to be a backer for (and is still open for funding, so check it out.)

“Behind the domestic curtain of motherhood, where the creative impulse can flourish or languish, are four women determined to make a go of it. Filmed over seven years, Lost In Living, confronts the contradictions inherent in personal ambition and self-sacrifice, female friendship and mental isolation, big projects and dirty dishes. The complex realities of family life unfold in this documentary film about the messy intersection of motherhood and artistic expression.”

 

 

 

***

 

A couple of weeks ago we had a brief storm in my city during the middle of our midwest drought. I was lucky enough to be out in it.  If I hadn’t had to run to the store with my daughter for essentials while my husband was out-of-town I would have only heard the rain.  When we arrived at the store the clouds were beginning to break and the sun was coming through.  I saw a man across the parking lot taking an iPhone pic of the sky.  And, of course, I had my phone too.  I took a picture of the sky and clouds facing the opposite direction.  It was magnificent.

Storm Clouds Breaking

 

When I left the store the sky was still filled with brilliant form and light.  I took out my phone again for more pics, shooting away, when a guy with his daughter walking in motioned to my left and said, “There’s a rainbow over there.”

Light Entering

 

 

A cloud among many

 

Soft Blank Slate

Alive

 

There I was, looking right at the sky and missed the rainbow entirely!  I was a little embarrassed, but grateful for the direction!  It actually turned out to be a double rainbow, so quite a treat!  It was large so I couldn’t get both sides in with one shot, and naturally, the photos don’t  nearly do the experience justice.  It was warm and cool, wet and sunny with the most amazing light.  A wordless beauty, for sure.

Rainbow

 

Don’t forget to look for the rainbows…

 

 

 

+ high-res version

 

I’m back in business!  At least to some degree.  Yesterday I went to my previously scheduled Monday night sewing class and felt better for it.  I’ve been working on this darned stuffed cat for months.  Of course, I did just successfully thread my sewing machine by myself last week.  Next up: Bobbin Winding?

So proud I learned to thread my own machine!

One step at a time.  That’s what I’m always telling myself.

My awesome (and she really is completely  awesome!) sewing teacher announced to the class last night, while talking about when you’re learning to sew,  you just start at step one and go from there with one new skill at a time…And then continued her announcement with the exception for me here, who started on about step 4.  : )   Whoops.

But I swear when I found this cat pattern I thought it was so cute and it wasn’t that big, and besides, don’t babies play with stuffed animals?  How hard could it be, really?!

So…I toted in this (non-beginner) pattern to my very first sewing class and in the past couple of months have fallen in serious intense like with sewing.  It’s teetering on love, I think.  I’m trying to keep it on the down-low though.  I don’t want to get tooooo excited about it just yet.  My sweet kitty is still not quite done and she might not love me back…?  Oh, I hope she loves me!

If she doesn’t I don’t think I’m going to give up on sewing just yet.  I’ll try a stuffed teddy bear next, maybe.

**

There’s more.

I noticed something else about sewing last night though.  And I think it’s an awareness that has grown from the beginning of my stuffed cat project.   But last night it was all in the right place and came together and YES, definitely this cat is a representation of me.

Maybe not the cat, per say…but the process of this cat becoming a cat…The cat becoming/forming/growing into what/who it is.

I’m sure I’m taking my connection with this stuffed cat a bit too far for some people’s comfort level, but I’m always looking for ways to connect and, more-so, ways to express the way I’m feeling inside.

And last night at the tail-end of my class this is how my cat ended up…

inside-out cat-arms and tail folded inside, detached legs, pins that once held it together still sticking out after sewing the body

Of course, I identify with the pins in the body right now due to my recent surgery…and the stitches. The stitches…of course.   And I watched as my cat’s arms and tail went inside and the “beautiful sides” (my teacher refers to them as the beautiful sides!)  were pinned together before sewing…  I thought to myself, “Yes…just like that.  Nobody can see. what’s in there.”

Inside that’s the way I feel…(but I don’t necessarily feel beautiful in there.)  I am all tucked inside, facing a needle, facing surgery, facing life, facing the unknown.  And nobody can see me.  “Nobody can see that I actually have a face under here…if they could see inside me here they would see my face!”

Now, I know sometimes people see me.  Sometimes people are even there when I’m a bloody mess, all contorted and turned certain ways.  But deeper…deeper hidden and hiding is how I sometimes feel.

Having the surgery and the following restrictions on my mobility and the fears about a repeat emergency surgery happening if I don’t follow the rules…and all my body image issues…and the control, or rather the loss of it….has had me pretty “triggered.”   I’m primed and ready to go.  Anxiety…check.  Depression…check. Body Pain…check.  NO CONTROL NO CONTROL NO CONTROL….checkcheckcheckcheckcheck!!!!

It’s not true.  I know I DO have control over myself.  I know that I’m going to be ok in the end.  I know that even if I did have to have surgery again I’m (pretty) sure I’d live through it…even the part that comes after where I can’t get my blood pressure up, walk around,  pick up and play with my daughter and do my projects.

And I also know that I have my attitude at my disposal.  I can choose to stay positive and hopeful at most times.  I can keep the faith.  I can see the bigger picture through anything.  I can do all that!

But then, sometimes…well, sometimes I’m just wrapped up tight inside and it feels like I’m not in my own hands.  Maybe that’s just the place we’re all supposed to be sometimes mid-process of becoming who we are?

And it’s then that I’m really thankful I am a human…and not a stuffed cat after-all.

And I’m completely  made as me. Lovable, huggable me, already!  (Even if I do hide inside sometimes!)

(And I super-super know I am eager to love my creator back…and my creator will not give up on love…because creation doesn’t give up on itself!  I didn’t even plan on that…I’ll have to think about this!)

The end.

No, not the end!  But just the end…for now.

(I wrote this stream-of-consciousness style so I can’t guarantee all of this completely makes sense…have mercy on me! 🙂

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 😉

 

Mary and Max.  I might be the last person on the face of this planet to watch this film,  seeing as how there are 1,250,000 views on YouTube of  its original trailer (and at least two handfuls of awards!).  But for the chance that I’m not the last one, I’m compelled to share about it here. [And if you haven’t seen it, then I am sure you are not the last one either.  But you might want to look this one up to be sure you don’t become that person!]

Ok, so I really liked it.  I’m not a great reviewer, but I am fantastic at exclaiming, “You must see this!”     I have to admit that I didn’t see a few parts because I had to run out of the room for other things a few times, but the film was so good that I plan on watching the whole thing again just to catch the small bits I missed.  There is also the chance that I’m adoring  Mary and Max so much because they got me/my life so well in certain ways.  So if you watch it and don’t like it, don’t blame me.  You’ve been informed.  And me/my life is not always completely normal. ; )    Make of it what you will!

As a disclaimer I would say this is an animation I would definitely reserve for adult, or at least mature teen viewers. It’s not exactly one to pop in for the kids on Saturday morning cartoon fest. ; )

FYI: I watched Mary and Max on Netflix, so if you have access to their  instant streaming movies you’re in luck!

I’d love to hear if you’ve already seen this, or if you haven’t… what you thought about it after you’ve had the chance!