Tag Archives: self harm

Reflections Of A Lost Girl

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This is a famous painting by Pablo Picasso called “Girl Before A Mirror” painted in 1932.

From the website http://www.pablopicasso.org, it describes this painting in the following way:

When you look closely at the image, you can interpret many different symbols within different parts of the painting. The woman’s face for one; is painted with a side profile and a full frontal image. One side shows the day time where she seems more like a woman, dolled up with her make up done. The other side with the rough charcoal texture portrays her at night. When she takes off the mask of makeup, and is more vulnerable as a young lady. One way of interpreting the painting is when the woman looks at herself in the mirror; she is seeing herself as an old woman. From the green discoloration on her forehead, darkening of her facial features to the lines that show that her young body has been distorted, and gravity has taken its rightful place. Another way of viewing the painting is that she is self-conscious, and she sees all the flaws in herself that the world doesn’t see.

As I’ve said before, some days I would go into art therapy not knowing what to work on, feeling upset, angry or confused about what has happened in my life.  So one of those days, my art therapist gave me this challenge.  She showed me the picture of “Girl Before A Mirror” and said that she wanted me to recreate this painting in my own way with my own meaning.  When I did my version of this painting, I had not even read anything about the painting.  I honestly didn’t even really look closely at the painting until I started sketching it out on the Masonite board I was using.  But once I started sketching, drawing my own lines and conveying my own interpretation of Picasso’s work, I realized what this picture was.  It was me.  I was looking at myself in the mirror, I was seeing my flaws, but I was reaching out to myself, offering comfort.  I didn’t copy what Picasso had done, but I did use many of the same lines, images, details and colors…but I just added my own style, flair and meaning.  The girl in my mirror has a tear flowing from her eye, running down her cheek, just as I have had so many times in life.

I didn’t go into this project thinking that anything amazing would come out of it, but when I allowed myself to just go with the flow, to just let my feelings speak through my paint, something amazing DID happen!  Not only did I end up with a super cool painting, I also ended up showing how I really feel.  And I ended up with a work of art that I am very proud of.

So here is my version, titled “Reflections Of A Lost Girl”

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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.

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.

Silence

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“Silence is golden….unless you need to be heard”

When I was younger and being sexually abused, I was forced into silence. I was threatened that if I told anyone about what he was doing to me, he would hurt me more or even hurt my family. I was terrified, so I stayed quiet. I needed to be heard, but wasn’t allowed to speak. I was forced to be voiceless. In my recovery, I’ve had to learn to use my voice. After decades of silence, it has been hard to learn to speak about what happened. I’ve also learned to speak up for myself, to speak up about how I feel and what I need from others. I’ve learned to confront life head on, rather than just run away from problems and cover my feelings up. Our voices are powerful tools in recovery. The more we speak up, the less power our past has over our lives!

A Bunch of Collages

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ImageImageImageImageThese are some of the very first collages I made.  I think I made these in 2007.  It was around that time when I was living alone in a very small apartment.  My bulimia and self harm were ridiculously bad and I was in a very big downward spiral.  I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals on a regular basis.  This is when I first discovered how much art really helps me.  I started collecting magazines and I would spend days pouring over them, cutting out words and pictures.  I don’t even want to know how many glue sticks I went through during this time.  Making collages was such an awesome distraction.  Not only did I really enjoy it, but I could collage about things I was feeling and I didn’t have to take my feelings out on myself through binging and purging and self harm.

 

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.