Tag Archives: anger

Sometimes the Crazy Comes Out

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I always feel like I’m going crazy. I don’t always let it out and most people who know me wouldn’t even know that I feel this way because I’ve created and perfected a great mask of looking like I have it all together. I’ve worn this mask since I was 5 years old. I’m a great actress, I probably deserve some Academy Award or something.

But ya know what….sometimes I just have to let all that craziness inside of my head come out.

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This is how I feel when there’s craziness coming out of my head. I’m normally pretty well put together, but this little sculpture represents how those crazy feelings just swirl in a bunch of commotion as they come out, as represented by this lady’s hair.

Even though it doesn’t necessarily feel good, it’s good to get those feelings out and feel crazy. The more I keep them stuffed inside of my head, the more they grow and get keep getting crazier, to the point of becoming toxic to my safety and sanity.

That’s what my art is about. Getting this shit out. That’s what this blog is about. Not keeping the truth hidden, being honest about my pain and struggles.

It’s all about getting the crazy out!

Drift Away with the Smoke…

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“You can never hurt me,
And you will never cause me pain
Cause you’re made of fire,
And I’m the heavy rain.”
― Ghaith Salloum, Burning Innocence

As much as I wish I could magically make my past disappear, I can’t. No one can. The truth is, it happened and now I have to learn to live with it, heal from it, learn from it and continue to live my life to the fullest.

People have always told me that I need to “let go of the past” and “just move on with life”. I never understood how that works. How can one just not remember the torture that happened to them as a once innocent child? How can one not feel the stabbing, burning, physical body memories every day? How can one not feel the emotions: the fear, the anger, the sadness?

But there is a way I can symbolically “let go”. One idea my art therapist suggested was to make a ceramic bowl, pot or container that I can burn things inside of. She shared with me about the first time she did a burning like this and how much it helped her let go. And in explaining the whole “letting go” part, she said that letting go doesn’t mean that you forget or act like it didn’t happen, but you control your life now, not the memories, not the past. So to her, when she did her burning, she said that watching the smoke rise from her bowl and disappear into the air was symbolizing how those things (the things she was burning) weren’t controlling her thoughts and emotions anymore. She said that there have been things in her life that she’s had to burn again and again and that the process is continual for her.

So after thinking about it for a bit, I decided to have an open mind and just try it. I decided to use red clay draped over a big coffee canister for the basic shape of my pot. Once the clay had slightly hardened, I removed the coffee canister and smoothed out all the bumps and ridges. I thought that I would be done at this point. I was going to use glaze to decorate the outside of the pot, but somewhere along in this process, my mind changed. I decided to carve designs on the outside of the pot. I wanted the designs to be smooth, curling, flowing, swirling….like the smoke as it it would look as it rises from the pot. But I also wanted the designs to be jagged, rough…not perfect. Because I am not perfect. I have a lot of jagged edges and a lot of rough spots.

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So this is how it came out. I used a rough ended carving tool and started scratching and carving the curls and swirls into the clay. Artistically, something I struggle with is knowing when enough is enough. I’m never quite sure if a project feels finished. As I looked at my pot, wondering if I should keep carving or not, I realized that it doesn’t matter if it’s finished or not.

There is never a “finish” in recovery and healing.

I wanted this pot to represent that.

Burn Pot After the first firing in the kiln, I put a thin layer of a greenish-teal colored glaze on the pot. I wanted a thin layer so that the natural, earthy red color would show through a little bit.

Burn Pot 2So this is the finished burning pot.

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As you can tell, I haven’t burned these things yet. I’m not sure when I will, but I’m sure I will know when the time is right. Some of the things I have in this pot are words and phrases that describe the shame and guilt I desperately want to rid myself of. There’s also a few photographs, one of my abuser when I was at the age the abuse was happening and one current picture of him and his wife that I found on his Facebook page after he contacted my father several years ago.

“What is to give light must endure burning” – Viktor E. Frankl

So here’s to burning, to the curls of smoke rising to the clouds and to only the bits of ash that remain.

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”
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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.

Eye Storm

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ImageSometimes I feel like I just don’t have the right words to say about some things.  I guess this is one of those kind of pieces of artwork.  I just know I was feeling very angry and hurt the day I made this.  The words on this collage speak for themselves.

 

Be a Good Girl

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“Just be a good girl and this won’t hurt” he said. He was a liar. It always hurt. It hurt so much that I would leave my body. I’d float above myself and watch from the corner of the ceiling. Sometimes I feel like I will never get better. When will the memories and flashbacks go away? When will I feel “normal” again? Does this ever get easier? I have so many doubts and fears. So much anger that I feel guilty about having. Good girls don’t get angry. At least that’s what I was taught early on. But I’m learning that anger is good. It teaches us when something is wrong. It is ok for me to be angry about what happened and about what I lost. It’s such a slow and torturous process, but I do have a small glimmer of hope.

Change your perspective

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One day when I was feeling especially down, I was talking to my art therapist about it.  She suggested doing a project that would help me turn my yucky feelings into happier ones.  The basic idea of the project is a 2 layered approach.  The bottom layer is made first and decorated with your negative feelings.  For my piece, I just used some poster board and I colored big, geometric shapes in lots of dark colors, representing the anger, frustration and sadness I felt.  The second layer uses tissue paper to cover up the first layer, but with the tissue paper still being thin and semi-transparent, you can still know that the other feelings are there and that is ok.  So for my second layer, I used a childlike scene with a blue sky background, a sunshine, green grass, fluffy clouds and flowers.  I used Mod Podge to glue the tissue paper over my first layer.  It didn’t turn out stunningly beautiful or anything like that, but I liked the process of changing my thought process a bit.  Sometimes all it takes is a change in perspective to make our attitude or day a bit better, and some days, that’s all that matters.

“My Darkness” (**Trigger Warning – Self Harm & Eating Disorder**)

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“For those who will fight bravely and not yield, there is triumphant victory over all the dark things of life.” ~ J. Allen

This is another piece that represents the confusion of emotions I feel on a regular basis.  Because of the abuse I went through, my mind and body learned to separate themselves as means of protection.  This is called dissociation.  Because of the way I would dissociate, I learned not to feel anything, even happiness.  I was an empty shell.  In the beginning of my therapy process, we worked a lot on allowing myself to feel…..to feel anything.  I had a very hard time staying present during therapy sessions because my gut reaction to feelings is to dissociate.  But slowly I learned to stay.  Sometimes it was only for a few seconds, but as time passed, I was able to stay present for longer periods of time.  I was beginning to really, truly feel emotions.  I was able to cry, be angry and even be happy at times.  This was a long and grueling process, but it was also amazing to recognize that I had something outside of my empty, dark shell of a life.

It was also during this time that I became so easily overwhelmed by emotions that I didn’t know how to deal with them.  Sometimes I slept.  Sometimes I binged and purged.  Sometimes I would cut myself.  Somehow the feeling of cutting myself was a release of my feelings, like when the blood would come out, so would the feelings.  Same thing goes for the purging too.  When I would force myself to vomit, all the feelings I had went down the toilet too.

In the process of my art therapy, I was talking to one of the therapists and he asked if I’d ever used scratch art as a way of dealing with the urges to self harm.  I had seen scratch art kits at the craft stores, but never tried them.  He suggested that maybe the physical action of scraping the paint off of a board or paper with a sharp tool could take the place of my self harm.  So I tried it and IT WORKED!!! 

This is one of the first scratch art pieces I made.  In the bottom left corner, I’m curled up.  I feel scared, alone, overwhelmed, angry and confused.  The swirls all around represent those different feelings.

What color is your anger?

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The day I did this painting, I had just come from a very difficult therapy session.  I was feeling very angry about my life and about where I was at in life because of the abuse I went through as a little girl.  I didn’t really think about what I was going to paint.  I knew I just wanted to spread paint on a board and get my feelings out.  As I was putting the paint on my board, I remember feeling a release of some of the anger.  Don’t get me wrong, this painting didn’t “cure” my anger, but it sure helped in the moment and it kept me from using my anger against myself through cutting or binging and purging.