Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Childhood…

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Here is a collection of collages I made representing my childhood.


I may have posted some of these previously, but since they fit with this theme, I thought I’d re-post them.

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These are actually pictures of me when I was around the age when my abuse was happening. (Yes, I know, I’m really freakin’ cute!)  Even though there is a smile on my face, there wasn’t a smile inside.  Inside, I was a very angry, confused, hurt and scared little girl.  I learned from a very early age how to “fake it” and put on a great mask to make everyone think I was normal and good.

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This collage represents all the stuff I wanted but didn’t have. I have most of those things now, but as a kid, I didn’t. I love the expression on the face of the little girl in the picture. She looks delighted, excited and full of innocence with a tiny bit of mischievousness mixed in there. In the center of her arms, there is an owl. I didn’t have a stuffed owl as a little kid, but I love owls now and I have a stuffed owl named Lumpy that I take to therapy sessions with me. Lumpy is my friend, he keeps me safe, he listens and he comforts me. As a kid I really didn’t have that stuff.

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This collage is a bit different from a lot of the collages I make. In most of the previous ones, I’ve used words and pictures cut from magazines, but in this one, a lot of the words were hand written and decorated with a specific purpose. The specific phrases “I am bad” and “Naughty” were written with my left hand, which is how the little girl part inside of me communicates. The picture of the bird in a cage represents how trapped I felt then and even now.

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Broken Dreams

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Just to get this out of the way, yes, this art journal was loosely inspired by Miley Cyrus’s song, “Wrecking Ball”.

Actually it was just the words “wrecking ball” that made me think of this art journal piece. Throughout my life, I’ve had a lot of dreams, wishes and visions of what I want for my life. I’ve also had a lot of those dreams shattered because of the damage my past abuse has done to my mental and physical health. One of my dreams was to become a cosmetologist. I’ve always loved hair and makeup and girly stuff like that, so I thought cosmetology school would be a great avenue for me to learn more and become a great hair stylist. Well…..that didn’t happen like I had wanted it to. I’ve actually been to cosmetology school twice and was expelled due to the way my depression, anxiety, eating disorder and self harm were affecting my performance and attendance at school. I was a great student. I got almost perfect grades and I loved what I was learning and doing….but there were a lot of days that I wasn’t able to even leave my house because my anxiety was so bad. There were days I’d eat lunch and purge in the bathroom at school, or go to the bathroom and cut myself. On more than one occasion I was caught and finally was confronted by the school administrator. I knew I wasn’t at the level of functioning that I needed to be in to finish school, so it was basically a mutual decision that I needed to quit school. I tried to go back again a few years later and the same thing happened. I was 5 months away from finishing school….but I just couldn’t do it.

Dream = Broken

There were other dreams, projects & plans that were broken. I lost many, many jobs due to my depression, anxiety, PTSD symptoms, frequent hospitalizations and overall inability to function. I lost friends when I would isolate and not leave my house or answer my phone for weeks at a time. A few amazing friends have stood by my side, but a lot have left too. My parents have suffered greatly. They’ve continued to pay for school loans for school that I couldn’t finish. They’ve invested so much financially into my treatment, therapy and care.

Life throws us a lot of curve balls. Wrecking balls smash into the dreams we have sometimes. But I’m learning to go with the flow. Take the punches and get back up. I’m even learning how to duck from some punches. I’m rebuilding dreams and a new life. This may not be the life I envisioned for myself, but I’m doing the best I can with what I have. I have an amazing wife who loves me with all her heart. My parents are so supportive of where I’m at in life. I have wonderful furry cat-kids who adore me. I have food, a lovely house to live in, clothes, a warm bed and most of all, I’m safe and loved.

Those are the things that matter now.


Broken dreams are in the past.


I’m rebuilding a new life.
It’s part of the healing process.

Magic Potion

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Magic Potion

In a recent therapy session, I was telling my therapist that I felt like my past abuse and abuser filled me with poison and I still felt so tied to the poison. My therapist suggested that maybe I should do a piece of artwork on that theme and somehow find a way to replace some of the poison with something more healing. So that’s how this art journal piece came about. That’s me in the middle. On the bottom right is the poison of my past that I’m still holding on to, but also on the top left is a Healing Potion that is slowly filling me and replacing the poison.

Imagery like this doesn’t always work for me. Lots of therapists have suggested other ways of looking at things and replacing bad images with better ones. But the bad images are still there. I almost didn’t do this art journal because I felt like it would be a waste of my time and wouldn’t work. It certainly hasn’t been the magic answer, but it s a good reminder for me to look at occasionally to remember that the Healing Potion is there. It is within me and it’s continually being poured into my life through many different avenues. It’s also a good reminder that I am still holding on to that poison, but some day I will be able to let go of it and not let it ruin my life.  Looking at this piece reminds me that I have to keep working hard and I have to keep fighting.

Because freedom is possible!

My Busy Brain

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My Busy Brain

Sometimes I feel like my brain is overloaded with thoughts. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by memories, triggers, flashbacks, emotions and even just every day stuff. I wish there was a PAUSE button for my brain.

This multimedia painting represents those feelings.  It’s kind of hard to see, but there is a clock in the upper right corner that represents the passing of time, the feeling of wasting time & wasting my life away.  Of course the woman at the bottom represents me, but the top of my head is missing, letting all my thoughts spill out as represented by the clock gears, nuts, springs, wire & twine.

It’s good to let thoughts out of our heads, even if they are thoughts that we consider bad.  Getting those thoughts out can happen in lots of different ways.  It doesn’t mean we have to broadcast everything to the world.  We can write letters, journal entries, poetry, songs, we can talk to a trusted friend or therapist, we can make artwork….heck, we can even just scribble on some paper.  In my experience, every time I get something out of my head and out into the open, those negative thoughts & emotions have so much less power in my mind.  Sometimes I have to keep letting the same stuff out, over and over, but that’s ok.  It’s all part of the healing process.  Everyone of us has a different process and what works for me might not work for you.  Sometimes you have to just open yourself up to trying new things though because you never know what might help or not.  But it can’t hurt to try….right?

Freedom in the Fight

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“There is Freedom in the Fight”
My boxing gloves are on and ready to fight! I’ve been fighting for my life, my right to live a “normal” life (whatever that is, if that’s even possible).  What my abuser took away from me, I’ve had to fight hard to get back.  He got off with no consequences (other than his conscience – hopefully).  I’ve had to invest thousands and thousands of dollars in therapy, treatment, doctors, medications…..I was kicked out of cosmetology school twice because of my mental health issues.  I’m stuck paying for student loans that I took out for school that I couldn’t complete because of how HE messed up my life.  I’ve sought out help.  I’ve fought hard.  I still struggle on a daily basis, but I’ve come so much further than I ever believed I could.  Back when the memories and flashbacks first started, over 10 years ago, people told me to just hold on and things would get better.  My life was at such a dark place that I couldn’t believe what they were saying.  I felt totally hopeless and helpless.  But through years of therapy and treatment, I’ve learned to fight for myself and fight to get back what I deserve.

I AM WORTH FIGHTING FOR!

*and if you are a survivor, you are worth fighting for too!*

Past….Present….Future….

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This a series of paintings I made representing my past, my present & my future. These paintings were made as a challenge my art therapist made for me. I had been talking to her about my feelings and what I have had to go through in life. She had this set of Soul Cards. Each card had unique art on it made by an artist named Deborah Koff-Chapin.  You can see pictures of various Soul Card and the work Deborah does on her website, http://touchdrawing.com/  So anyhow, back to my process.  My art therapist asked me to pick out 3 cards that represented my past, present & future. I picked out 3 cards based on the art and how I related to it. Then she said my challenge was going to be to make my own series of paintings using the cards as inspiration.

So these are pictures of the 3 Soul Cards I chose:

Soul Card Past
What spoke to me most about this card was the position the person is sitting in. It looks like they are trying to hide or shield their body from being hurt.
Soul Card present
In this card, I saw a person confronting themselves. Looking in a mirror, taking a personal inventory and coming to terms with where they are at in life.
Soul Card Future
In this card, I saw freedom. I saw freedom entering the person’s life through their mouth, through speaking their truth, through honesty.

Here’s my Past painting, titled, “Be a Good Girl”
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It says “Be a Good Girl” which is something I heard a lot when I was little. I heard it from my abuser mostly, but also from my parents, teachers and church. I used the same basic position that the person in the Soul Card was in, but rather than just painting the person, I filled in the body space with word describing my past. It might be hard to see in this photo, but in the center of the body, there is a fire burning with barbed wire running through it. That represents the physical pain I felt during the sexual abuse, as well as the physical pain I still deal with.

Here’s my Present painting, titled, “Facing Myself”
Facing Myself
I don’t really like this painting turned out, but I like what it represents to me. In this painting, I’m looking at myself and the silver hand prints represent how I feel stuck behind a mirror, just watching the outside world go by. But basically this symbolizes the self reflection process that I’ve been going through in therapy, especially during this past year.

And now for the Future painting, this is titled “My Freedom”
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I really like this painting, both in the way it was done artistically and in what it means to me. The girl represents me, and the bird flying out of her mouth represents me speaking my truth, being honest, real and peaceful. The bird also represents freedom.

The freedom is within me and I’m finally able to access it, live it and breathe it.

Just Float Away **TRIGGER WARNING**

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I couldn’t get away from him. I was just a little kid. He was a grown man, so much larger and stronger than me. He held me down, pinned me to the ground. Sometimes he tied me down. The things he would do to me could easily be considered as torture. I know that no sexual abuse can be considered “run of the mill” but this stuff wasn’t just touching my private places. It involved full force rape. A grown man raping a 5-year-old. He would penetrate me with other things too; sticks, toys, pencils, silverware, knives…basically whatever he could find to shove in there. I remember blood. Lots of blood coming out of my body. Lots of physical pain. After he was done, he’d leave me there, usually in the dark. I would curl up in a ball because the physical pain was so intense. I was scared, alone and in pain. I was little. My mind created a great escape plan to protect me. I would dissociate. I would leave my body. When I would leave my body, it felt like I had a special door on the top of my right shoulder that would open and I could float out of. I’d float to the ceiling, in the corner of the room and just watch, that way I didn’t have to feel it.

Our minds do amazing things to protect us in traumatic events. Some minds create alternate personalities to deal with situations. My mind just left. I was freed, leaving just an empty body for him to hurt. At the time of my abuse, this dissociation served me well. It was my safety. But now that I am trying to face my past, sometimes I don’t want to dissociate. I want to stay present with my body and my feelings. My dissociation became such a natural coping mechanism throughout my life that it happened automatically. I didn’t have to do anything or think anything to make myself leave my body. I just did. Now I try to fight to stay in my body. I’ve learned that my friends don’t want relationships with an empty person. I want to be an active participant in my life now. It’s not always pleasant to feel and remember, but it’s part of the process of my healing. It’s part of my journey and I now have the support I need in order to face my past and learn to live as a whole person again.

It’s Been a While…

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything here.  I keep meaning to post, but just haven’t had the mental, emotional and physical energy to really do it.  But I’m back now.  Hopefully I will be better at keeping up with this regularly.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

These collages were made during the past year.  When I look through my collage book, it’s pretty obvious when I’m having good days or when I’m really struggling with something.  The last collage here was a really difficult one to make.  Sometimes it still really triggers old, yucky feeling emotions.  But through the various mediums of my artwork, I’m learning to deal with and express those emotions rather than taking them out on myself or holding them inside until I self destruct.  Growth is hard, but it’s a good thing!

More older collages

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These are a few more collages that I made in 2007.  Geez, that feels like forever ago.  I hardly even remember what my life was like then because it honestly was pretty chaotic.  I had so much going on with my eating disorder and my self harm, lack of good therapy, being severely over medicated by my psychiatrist…things were pretty crazy.  I used making collages as a safer form of self expression.  When I wanted to cut myself, instead I’d grab a stack of magazines and just cut out words and pictures that jumped out to me.  When I felt like I didn’t have a voice, like I couldn’t speak out my feelings and thoughts, they would come out through my collages.  I think that using collage as a therapeutic art form was truly the beginning of using art as a form of healing.  Within the past few years, I’ve definitely branched out in my artwork.  I’ve learned how to paint, draw, make ceramics, make jewelry, and many other art forms.

Picasso Style Sexuality

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This drawing represents the inner struggle I sometimes have with sensuality and sexuality. Because I was taught so many conflicting things about sex, sexuality, my control of my own body and pleasing others, I really struggle with this area of my life. There have been times when intimate moments are wonderful and amazing, but there have also been moments where they are filled with guilt and shame. When I was being sexually abused, I knew that it was wrong. It felt wrong to me. I knew that sex was something that only grown ups should have. But I was forced into it. It wasn’t fun. It was extremely painful, often causing hours, sometimes even days of pain following the episodes of abuse. Because our bodies are made to respond to sexual stimulation, I didn’t understand why it felt good sometimes. I thought that meant I liked it and wanted it. These are still thoughts that get all tangled up in my mind sometimes and I’m still working on these issues in therapy.