Info

My Art Therapy Journey

Posts tagged story

In my lifetime I have been told I am miserable.

I’ve heard it from more than one person.  I’ve heard it from people in my family…and I’ve heard it from people who have no way of knowing me, for instance, my daughter’s step-mother, because she has always refused to speak to me or acknowledge my existence…beyond, of course, assuming that I am miserable.

Whenever I have heard this I have always been speechless.  It always has hurt me is such an unreachable place I don’t even know what the feeling is that it brings up for me.  It’s so unexplainable and I’ve never been able to understand being informed of my misery, lol.

I still can’t really understand it.

But I’ve been dealing with a lot of things lately.  Coming back to life gradually, in bursts.  So I’m looking at my past and my history to what has brought me into being born all over again.  This privilege I get, that sometimes I have to work at accepting because of the pain it also brings with it.  It brings with it the reality of my life.

And so I run into the past.

I don’t run toward my past.  I run into my past.  (And that is a very big distinction.)

As I move forward, my past is there.  It greets me, and I can’t move beyond it without acknowledging that it is there.

And so I’ve been thinking about times  in the past I’ve been told or heard that I was miserable and the turmoil and confusion that has always caused to erupt from inside of me.  I could never figure out why I was hearing that because inside of me my heart was not miserable.  I didn’t feel miserable…but I eventually started believing that I was, indeed, miserable.

“You’re miserable.”

“You’re a miserable person.”

“You’re a miserable excuse for a person.”

I didn’t understand.

It did hurt though.

It hurt A LOT.

And I was alone for so many years and nobody ever told me otherwise.

I still couldn’t figure out why that must be what I was.

Because even though I probably should have been, I wasn’t.

However, I experienced my confusion about being miserable as…miserable!

Well, I’m happy (not miserable) to say that something has occurred to me over the past day or so.

I’ve realized that the people who have ever told me that I was miserable were possibly, themselves, miserable in some way.  However, I would never say this to another person.  I couldn’t imagine telling another person they are miserable, even if they were inflicting (or projecting) misery onto me.  I can’t even imagine ever saying it which gives me some sort of faith that misery is not what defines me.

It still hurts so much that people who were designed to love  me when I needed them most did not love me enough to be able to see past their own pain.

But I’ve been in therapy for the last couple of years with a therapist who treats me with dignity, and even though receiving respectful, compassionate care has been the most excruciatingly scary, I’m beginning to take some breaths of respect and compassion for myself.  It hurts, but this is the part about running into my past I’m talking about.  It takes me back to all those places where history got it wrong.  My life has been given grace to correct itself.

For all the times I could never reply, I am hitting “Reply All.”

“I am not miserable.  I am not a miserable person, and now that I love myself I have no excuse to believe that anymore.”

So to my brother and to my mother, I hope this finds you well.

And to my daughter’s step-mother, I would still sit down and have a cuppa with you anytime your heart will allow.

I’m my own person now.  I would love for you to get to know me.

Advertisements

This evening me and my husband had a luscious conversation about our spirituality and beliefs about life, religion and the journey of it all.  I am using the term “our spirituality,” but actually we each are quite different on our individual paths.  It’s a bit crazy that we actually even ended up married because we see things so differently, but then there are times when we meet in the middle.  We met in the middle enough to have a baby together and start a family anyway.

A lot of spiritual stuff has been on my mind, but that’s because my whole life has kind of been a strongly spiritual kind of journey, even though I didn’t necessarily pick it to be.  It kind of just happened…like being born.

I don’t know what to say about it because there’s so much to say about it.  And I’m a little scared to say some of the things I think because I don’t want my thoughts to be misconstrued as propaganda.  As if the world needs more propaganda these days.  (I think that and I don’t even practice watching the news.)

But if I remember right, I think our conversation got started because I was talking to my husband about motherhood.  Specifically, motherhood and the expectations on mothers in our society (we’re in Midwest USA), and even more specifically (or possibly more broadly) the “Christian ideal picture” of motherhood.

I’m not sure I belong in the midwest, and at this time I don’t identify with any organized religion.  Just saying, because I do have a lot of thoughts about both of these things.    I also don’t not (and I do mean that, this is not just bad grammar)  identify as a Christian.  It could be a confusing thing to try to categorize where I am.  It is for myself, sometimes.  And I guess I should also preemptively say I’m not looking for me and my family to be “saved”  and that doesn’t mean I want us to go to any literal or figurative hell.  It just means that I have faith in the journey so please let me be on it.  If I’m meant to find your cabin in the woods, I will.

I’m just sharing.  Pretend you have found my journal at the base of a tree, perhaps, with clear signs I will be returning.  For example, chocolate and coffee are nearby.  And pretend there is a little message beside my journal that says…”Read this if you want…at your own risk.”  But the risk part is not a threat.  It’s just the understanding between us that I actually have no idea where I’m going with all of this talk at the moment.

A little insider info about me…because I’m being just so private here, I know:

I wear a (small, and not clearly recognizable from a distance) cross around my neck.  Right next to (or on opposites sides of it, depending on how the charms lay on any particular day) are the words “grace” and “patience.”  This is where I am.  This is the most definitive place for myself I have come to on my spiritual journey, recently.

I would tell you what pieces on my necklace symbolize or refer to exactly, but I’m not sure exactly.  It’s just part of me right now, and I accept that.  I’m generally an open and accepting sort of person.

But anyway, back to the motherhood thing.  The motherhood thing.  It’s such a “thing” isn’t it?  It’s like one of the things you’re warned to not talk about with anyone else, lest you need to defend your life.  Everyone knows not to raise the subject of Politics, Religion and above all…Motherhood in uncertain company.

But I’ll just say it.

I don’t vote (usually.)   I’d probably be considered Agnostic (if forced into a box,) and I’m on the fence about my place in the world (particularly what my role as a mother should look like.)

I’m not sure how I turned out to be such an opinionated person, but I might see myself as opinionated just because I have many thoughts about a lot of different, and sometimes potentially volatile, subjects.

I’m just not imposingly opinionated.

***

After looking into it, since I am writing about this here, after-all….I’m actually probably a Gnostic Christian,not really A-gnostic.  Which just opened up some trail for me, as I speak.   (I have a sneaking feeling I knew this about myself once before, but got lost in trying to fit into a cabin that didn’t have space for me, or something, because the term “gnostic” is suspiciously familiar to me.)

***

Have you ever known or seen a chain smoker?  Perhaps you are one yourself, even.  Well, then you would understand me right now.  I am a chain gum-chewer and I’m at the end of my pack so I’m really trying to get somewhere with this post quick, because even the a-b-c gum is soon to be out of date for usefulness  if I don’t somehow get to it.

Oh that’s right!  I was getting to something!

I don’t remember it now.

I think I’m scared to let it out now, and I actually want to research gnostic Christianity for the rest of the night instead! Ha.

***

So I was saying about this luscious conversation with my husband-no fighting, no yelling, crying or hurt feelings, nobody being left stranded on the side of the road or running out the door before remembering to to get fully dressed to save themselves from the other.  A true gem of a discourse is what we had.

But I’m procrastinating here, now.

Maybe I’m not ready to speak about this publicly.  But I want to.  Because it’s a big deal, but that’s also why maybe I’m not ready yet.

Ah, I’ll get there.  But it might be 3am. before I do….and it’s only 9:20pm here.

Ugh, I guess I better save my energy for what I feel coming on…..

Sorry about tricking you into reading the preface…(I really didn’t mean to!)

Somewhere along the way I became jaded, even though it’s just a dark synonym for hurt.

I have images to share, but…I’m jaded.  (So my world is blank.)

What is up with that?  I used to not even know what jaded meant.  I remember asking and having to look it up in the dictionary…back before Google.

I looked it up again, though, since it seems so definitive of where I am right now.  I wanted to be sure about it.

It turns out that “hurt” is not actually mentioned within the definition I found.

So maybe I shouldn’t  mention about the hurt aspect of my jadedness.

 

I know this is a phase.

Phases pass.

 

Things will change.  I’m looking forward to when I’m back to being some other color.  Pink maybe.  Not Pepto-pink.  Instead, more like something most people like.  Ice cream or cotton candy…baby blankets.  Strawberry milk?  (Maybe most people don’t like strawberry milk…)

 

I am so tempted to gloss over the green.

It would be so easy to just not put it here.  Nobody really needs to know about it.  I wouldn’t even have to acknowledge it.  It could be like it never happened.

 

Sometimes the light kills gross green stuff…like mold.

 

I will move through this.  I will.

Or I will be moved through it.

 

 

 

 

 

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’ve been pretty busy, but not too busy to think about Life With Light.  In fact, I guess I’ve partly been busy because so much of my attention has turned to this “life with light.”    Sometimes the days just seem to slip away…and the day becomes more like an inhabited friendly oasis rather than the harsh desert island I’ve been accustomed to in the past.

My Friendly Oasis on Wednesday

This week me and one of my best friends began a woodworking/building project together!  You can see there are 2 sanding blocks there.  We “turned our doing dials up a notch” ala Home Depot, lol.  My friend gave me that line 🙂  She always makes me laugh.  She’s the kind of friend I can laugh with and cry with in the same day…or even within the same minute.  I count myself pretty lucky, fortunate, blessed… (take your mix n’ match of the assortment,) to have her in my life.  We’ve known each other since we were kids…have been in each other’s weddings…that kind of friends.   We’ve been through a lot together, even during times we were apart, often living sort of seemingly parallel lives.

So I have this to share…a great big burst of light in my my life if you ask me!

This week we bonded over the cut-off saw in my garage…

We got as far as sanding and painting these boards which I was pretty proud of!  I’m hoping to work on the completion sometime this weekend.  The weather outside looks good, so as long as the weather indoors stays as calm then I will hopefully have a storage cart on wheels by the time Monday rolls around…complete with victory pics to share!  (Crossing fingers, toes, and a few hairs.)

**

If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll probably remember me talking about my euphoric discovery of Instagram  and my reformation of the repugnance I once had for digital photography.  You won’t believe what I’ve uncovered now!   I am forever humbled.  My former repugnance is regrettable.

Another thing that has had me busy this week is this!

The Art of iPhoneography: A Guide to Mobile Creativity

And!

iPhone Obsessed: Photo Editing Experiments with Apps

And I was even more humbled when I learned there are even people who consider themselves to be  iPhoneography Purists!?  iPhone purists!  I never knew!

I am SO SLOW.

My husband laughed at me because he tried to get me into digital when we were dating, but I would have nothing of it.  I’m too embarrassed to even admit to the things I said about “lowly digital.” LOL.  And now I’m begging him to go to Photoshop World with me!  I have had to swallow some pretty big words and eat a lot of humble pie.

I haven’t actually even had the chance to experiment with any new apps.  I was thinking Instagram was the schizz, but I guess there’s more out there to explore. haha.

It’s a bit hard to not have all the time in the world to traverse all these extraordinary ventures.   These discoveries have  kept my mind going at a good speed, which is necessary because I apparently I have a lot of catching up to do.  But when it comes to all this newfangled stuff  I have to approach my discoveries more as a section-hike and not a thru-hike for now…(hiker lingo)  Oh…and just to think of all the photos that could be unearthed on this hike!

I cannot wait to dig into digital and see how I can pal around with it in the area of art therapy!

Patience will be a personal challenge on this one.

**

And an update on the rest of life…well, what is the rest of life anyway?

What if the rest of life was just like all the above…happy to be alive?

What if…something to think about.

And maybe something to feel.

It is scary to unravel in the light.

Light means awareness and awareness means seeing what was once in the dark.  Sometimes things in the dark, once revealed, are not so scary anymore.  Like the classic monster in the bedroom…that isn’t.  But sometimes there really is a monster in the bedroom.

More children’s books should probably talk about this so it can help us grow into adults that can face reality.

Monsters exist…and not just in the dark.

Sometimes the light in the room is flipped on and the monster is real and tries to eat you alive.

This particular revelation of the light is dark…I don’t mean for it to be dark, but I’m scared and angry at the monsters.

It is beyond-words scary to come to life sometimes.

I have travelled in the dark.  I guess I battled fear  in the dark sometimes  too, but I could look at the beasts lurking around me and tell myself they weren’t real.  They were just my imagination playing tricks on me…just a shadow that couldn’t hurt me.

I sometimes find reality to  be unappealing now that I’m learning the truth.  But I guess the greatness of light is that reality can be changed into something better.

There are also good things….good feelings.  Gifts.  Flowers. Laughter.  Love.

And still, always there can be Hope when the feelings don’t feel so good.

I just think it’s important to say that sometimes it’s not all rosy.  There is a lot that makes me want to shut my eyes again and say, “I’m not here.  I’m not here.  I’m not here and neither are the monsters.”  Oh, but to believe the lies.

They are there.  Here.  Me, the “monsters,” my life….it all has existed through all this time.

*

Yesterday I walked into the kitchen with my toddler, preparing to make her breakfast.  I flipped on the light and…  This is what started off my day.

I am rewriting the story, or in this case…maybe the song.

It was not so Itsy Bitsy.

It also did not go up the spout again.

 

Over the weekend my Baby became a Toddler.  She’s still not quite “toddling,” but we’ve made the one-year mark.  It’s exciting and humbling.  It makes me nostalgic for my older daughter who will turn 14 this fall.  Though, it is hard to not be washed in fear.  I look at other families, especially younger ones just starting out with their baby or young children and sometimes my heart wants to stop.  I don’t really know why.  I don’t know if it takes me to the hindsight wisdom I have now about a time when I was so young (a teenager)  and unknowing–when I had no idea what was to come for me as a mother– or if I am feeling vulnerable for them…because they look so innocent.  Parents.  Hearts just right out there in front.

I don’t think I look innocent.

But I’m not really sure what I look like anymore.

I have no idea what life will throw my way. I am  doing my best to be the parent my toddler (with her own unique personality and set of traits, much different from her sister’s)  needs me to be.  I don’t think I look-or feel-innocent, but I so often am scared of not knowing enough.

I am constantly searching myself out, asking, “Have I learned what I need to know from my mistakes?”

It’s scarier to be pretty sure I probably don’t even know all the mistakes I have made yet.

Time is a teller.

Is there any parent out there who can’t look back and see even just one mistake they might have made in raising a child?  If there is, I’m sure that person will come find me here to tell me, lol.  Never fails, huh.  (Falls under the class of “Don’t ask questions you don’t want answers to.”)

Anyway, we survived the first birthday party.  A party my older daughter never received.  (I was a Jehovah’s Witness then.)

I feel like I am always living in alternate universes.  Especially as a married woman and parent now in this new place.  Memories free-flow around and through me.  I live in an ocean of memories and most of them are not very pleasant.  I work hard to make new ones.  Sometimes I think I actually work too hard at that and stress myself out even more.  And then is the memory I worked so hard to make good any good?

But as I was saying, we’ve made it this far.

This year we celebrated with friends…a pretty rockin’ way to get the ball rollin’.  Right?

But my older daughter was with her dad.  So even this birthday is tinged with sadness.  It’s a long story only a mini-series could tell.

I’m going to trust that if I keep living life with light will take care of this for all of us.

I’ve been savoring  my latest set of Instagrams.  It seems like so much has happened in just a couple of days, even though when I look around not much has changed.

Except for my mantle.  Yes, my mantle is looking different these days!

My mantle now holds a vase with Roses of Different Color!

And, I think you can be assured it’s not because I am wearing rose-colored glasses, either.

Just take a look at these beauts!

Yesterday my husband ran an errand to the store and came back with these!!!

No arguing, no disharmony, not even a “discussion” precluded these babies!  No ladies (and gents) my husband bought me flowers because….because HE DID.  And he gets full credit.

Now, I didn’t used to think I was the type of girl to get all giddy over flowers, but turns out…I kinda am.  Especially when they’re tie dye, and especially when I know it means my husband is listening and paying attention.  And something grabbed his attention at the store when I wasn’t with him and he thought of me!

So I’m a little sweet on these flowers, and sweet on him.

Self-Portrait with Roses  : )

So not too much commentary today, although it feels like there’s a ton to share.  It will have to wait because I am stopping to smell my tie-die roses!  And I invite you to sit-a-spell and smell them with me!

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… 🙂

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.