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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
Meet my friend, Dudley. Dudley is the brave security guard that protects my little girl from being hurt. Yes, that’s right…my little girl. Not my daughter, but the version of me that lives inside of me who was the little girl who was so terribly abused. She lives in almost constant fear, sadness, anger and is always alone. She is scared to let anyone in because people hurt her. But now she has Dudley to protect her. In my mind, I kind of envision Dudley as Aslan, from The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. He’s kind and gentle with the little girl, but he’s fierce when it comes to guarding and protecting her. She can snuggle with Dudley, lean her head on his chest and feel him breathe when she feels like she can’t breathe. He’s soft and fluffy, but has strong muscles beneath his fur and she knows his sharp teeth can rip any predator apart. His roar and growl will scare anyone away, yet his purr comforts her.
“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.