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
Cyber Monday Sale! DM me with the number or title of the painting you’d like to purchase.
1.“Ruby Slippers” acrylic on 6x9 watercolor paper - $25 (with shipping)
2.“Red Haze” acrylic on 4x6 watercolor paper- $20 (with shipping)
3.“Lagoon Hideaway” acrylic and oil pastel on 6x9 watercolor paper- $20 (with shipping)
4.“In the Waves” acrylic on 6x9 watercolor paper- $30 (with shipping)
5.“Wave Deconstructed” acrylic on 6x9 watercolor paper - $15 (small bend in paper) (with shipping)
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.
For some, anger might feel like a steady stream of lava burning up inside of them. For others it may feel like an explosion. For me it feels like trying to light a cigarette lighter. For so long I’d learned to bury that passion deep inside of me. Anger can be a healthy expression of what we are feeling as humans. It can move us to action, move us towards helping others, or even ourselves. I’m learning to feel the beauty of that kind of anger. That it is a true and good thing. A human thing. It already exists inside of me, now it’s about opening the door ever wider to let it come flowing out when and how it needs to.
Life is messy. When I feel my body trying to hold too many emotions at once, art usually helps let them flow out. Someone told me recently that grief can feel like a river. I think art can feel like a raft.
We carry pieces of our younger selves with us wherever we go. The questions that have been on my mind lately are, “how am I caring for my inner little one? What does she need right now to feel safe?” If I can’t be kind to my past little girl than there is no way I can fully embrace my present and future selves.
Drawing semi anatomically correct hearts has become a tiny hobby. Someone asked me if the lines meant the heart was guarded and I quickly responded, "No, that's the rhythm of the heartbeat." It's just one of the reasons art interpretation will always fascinate me; how different we can all see one image.
She carried the warmth of her breath inside. Gently holding it like a jar of fireflies on a late August night. And when she was afraid she remembered their light and warmth drifting lazily inside her lungs.
If anxiety were a color... "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome." (Good old dictionary definition.) Words associated with anxiety:
Untethered, panic, worry, irrational, flashbacks, distress, perfectionism, doubt, phobias.
Your body has stories to tell. Are you allowing your body to speak? For so long I've pushed the words it has to say down deep. There are stories full of sadness and pain, but also ones of deep overflowing joy. When I push the trauma down I also shove away the joy. I cannot numb one without numbing the other. I am a whole body and cannot be split into parts. My story may not define me, but it has shaped me.
I'm learning to not suppress my emotions anymore. Whatever comes to the surface is there for a reason. Noticing instead of judging is a challenge, but one my body will thank me for later. Pushing my feelings down doesn't mean they go away. I may think the pin is still safely in the grenade, but stories of trauma speak loudly in the body.
Tell your stories to a trustworthy person. You matter. Your stories matter. Your body will thank you. "As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself…The critical issue is allowing yourself to know what you know. That takes an enormous amount of courage." - Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score
There is a giant iceberg under the saying, "I'm fine." Underneath the water of a smile lies all the things you're not willing to admit to yourself or others. Bring people you trust into your world. Don't let your fear of the unknown rob you of the love of a community.