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…
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.
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?
“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!*
“She wanted to scream, but all she could do was whisper…but no one heard”
Lately I’ve felt pretty voiceless. Like I have emotional laryngitis or something. I made this art journal page today in effort to express the feeling of voicelessness. As a child, I didn’t have a voice. I was threatened, hurt, scared and little. He was powerful and so much bigger than I was. But here’s the great thing….I DO HAVE A VOICE NOW!!! I can express what happened. It may not be pretty. People may not want to hear it. But I have freedom and no one can stop me from sharing my story. Now people can hear my screams and some of my whispers.