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A week or so ago I was diagnosed with Chronic Inflammatory Response syndrome. It’s been devastating. I’m grateful for art as an outlet to express my pain. I tend to smile my way through things sometimes and although it’s a coping technique, it’s not awesome for the grieving process. I also tend to be embarrassed by the intensity of the grief or feeling, but I’m learning to embrace them. Here’s to learning how to be human again. To leaning on other people when we need help. To learning how to keep on surviving. And to finding joy in unlikely places and letting others show us when we can’t find it ourselves.
Therapy and medication can be helpful tools when someone is struggling, but we also really need a community of people around us. People who can enter into our oceans and help us feel less alone. I know when I’m in that place of desperation I don’t need someone to fix me, I need someone to simply sit with me and be present. Swipe over to see the next image.
Trauma shuts down the language center of the brain. It takes the words right out if your speech bubble. My professor quoted Ann Voscamp this weekend, “shame dies when stories are told in safe places.” Sometimes stories are told with just our faces and our tears being held in the presence of another. I know so many of my stories have been told in an ocean of tears and no words. I’m letting the shame of not having words go. I am enough even when I am unable to speak.
When you’re painting intuitively you never know what will pop up. All of a sudden I saw the figures in this piece and I realized I had just painted a family dynamic illustrated in a painting. Where do you see yourself this image? Which figure resonates with you?
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“Amethyst Evening” watercolor on paper. The thing that keeps drawing me back to painting with watercolors is the element of surprise. I’m drawn in deeper and deeper into the process because I’m not sure where it will take me. I think that’s why I’ve loved studying psychology so much.
Yesterday, was a horrible pain day for me. There’s not really anything I can take to make it go away. I can only soothe my body and hold the pain. It can be torturous. Thankfully, @lindsaybraman (an amazing artist) was cleaning out an art supply closet and she suggested I paint something while she did that. About six or seven of these little guys flew out of me and for a while I forgot about the pain and just focused on the process.
It’s been a long while since I posted something here! Grad school and life in general has been insane. I don’t normally do digital illustrations but my talented friend @lindsaybraman let me use her tablet. I decided to sketch out my internal celestial map. What’s your favorite star or planet? (Also, spot the comma error. The grammar queen in me is going crazy, but I’m going to let it slide, ha!)
Chronic pain draws you inward. Holds you hostage. Creates tunnel vision. All you’re able to do is feel the depth of it, except there is no bottom. Chronic pain feels like drowning. Wave after wave after wave of it. Pummeling you. All you can do is hold on and ride it out.
She stands at the threshold between the past, present, and future. Battling with the nightmares from her past while learning not to be afraid of the unknown.
I’m trying to remember all of these things as I greet 2018 head on.
“The Way My Heart Beats” watercolor and gouache collage on paper. “Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies.
The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe. In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.” -Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score
Where grief can feel like a raging river, depression can hold you like a stagnant murky pond. Stuck in-between the layers of emotion that can’t quite move. When someone is overwhelmed and buried under depression, it is absolutely necessary to get help. A person who is buried alive under a collapsed building can’t possibly dig themselves out alone.
It is those moments in my own life where I’m grateful for friends, amazing therapists, and healers. I have to keep telling myself that asking for help isn’t weakness, it’s human. I have to gently remind myself of my human-ness and need often. I frequently believe the lie that I should not have needs or need anything from anyone. No, it’s a part of being human! We need community and sometimes (many times) we need help.
I’m thankful for the numerous times I’ve asked for help and received more than I ever thought possible and I grieve for the times I did not get what I needed. It’s the reminders of the past that keeps my heart open to my desires and the possibility of what could happen that helps move me forward.
My grandfather passed away earlier this week. That grief is complicated. Not that mourning is anything other than complicated. It feels like being stranded on an ocean. Held by deep waters of sadness. Drowning in a sea of tears for what was and what wasn’t.