Tag Archives: Secrets

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!

PTSD Themed Collages

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I know I may have posted some of these before, but I wanted to post a group of specific collages that have a PTSD theme.

These collages depict the thoughts, feelings and images that I relate to my childhood and the severe sexual abuse that I was going through at that time.  I still struggle, on a daily basis, to remember that I am good.  He did not break me, ruin me or cause me to become evil.  I did nothing to make him hurt me.  I was just a little girl.  I was innocent, but he stole that from me.  I’m working hard in therapy to learn how to deal with all these feelings and memories that I repressed and kept secret for so long.

Part of finding freedom from my past is getting these long-held secrets out in the open. I want others to know they aren’t alone. The feelings and struggles that we go through, as survivors of abuse, are very normal for what we’ve experienced. Never, NEVER feel bad or ashamed of who you are! Your past does not define you! It may impact your world, but you are not bad because it happened to you!

And you’re never alone…

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.

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.

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?

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.

Dudley the Brave

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20131007-101946.jpgMeet 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.

Box of secrets

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So on the topic of secrets, back a few years ago, when I first really started my trauma work in therapy, my therapist recommended that I write down a list of all the secrets I’ve been keeping and as I felt comfortable, I could share them with her. So I did that. My list was 3 pages long.

Later on on my therapy process, I decided to make a box to keep my secrets in. I used a small cardboard box with a hinged lid. I crumpled up some muslin material and Modge Podged it to the box. I used some red burlap to make a heart on the top of the box with a safety pin going through the center of it. Then with some wire, I made a clasp that I could put a lock through. I wrote out ally secrets individually on pieces of brown paper that I folded up and put inside. The box is really full. I kinda had to squish all the secrets in the box.

Just getting the secrets out of my head was a huge relief. As I began to tell the secrets, the shame and guilt I felt began to lessen. Finding a safe person to share your secrets with is extremely therapeutic! Like I said in my other post, “secrets keep us sick”. If you have secrets, I really encourage you to begin sharing and letting go of them. My secrets held so much power over my mind. Letting them go and getting them out has brought me a lot of freedom.