|Painting in Progress. The Escape is becoming a new painting. I’m still not sure of the new title.|
I posted my last post ten days ago. It began with the phrase “Victim no More,” and when I wrote it I knew that would happen, but I didn’t know how. As I move along, I have learned if I try very hard to be honest with myself, my actions will continue to lead me in a direction that helps me to be the best I can be. It is a destination that is far from the attainment of perfection; it may never lead to material success, and it will not make everyone like me. What I do believe is that unflinching honesty to oneself is the only reliable guide in a fluid, ever-changing approach to life without a roadmap.
Anyone who read my previous post knows I recently opened up and told my own personal story. As a survivor of a very violent and traumatic relationship in my early 20’s I have struggled to regain my strength and power throughout my adult life. Painting has been a vital tool that has helped me to understand my subconscious thoughts and suppressed feelings, and communicate them first to myself and finally, to my family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers.
There have been consequences to telling my story. There was immediate retaliation from my abuser, in the form of comments. I have been feeling exposed, both emotionally and physically. Many of my fears have surfaced, not only in my painting, but in my life.
|Facing my fears one by one and looking at them long enough to understand them completely.|
In the center of the painting I have discovered my fears, as each one unfolds. I have been afraid of being physically harmed. Being verbally attacked in such a public way by my abuser was not something I predicted, but it has always been a threat and a fear. I was afraid I would be seen as a weak person for having even been in an abusive relationship. (I was afraid I would be judged in so many ways.) I was afraid of remembering what I have pushed aside. I was afraid of so many regrets. I felt ashamed, scared and anxious, but I wrote down my story and I posted it publicly. And the fallout has been huge; for ten days every single one of those fears has sat down in front of me and beckoned to be seen.
| In order fully own our own lives we must fully participate. To do this well we must
have boundaries, and our boundaries are our own to define and defend.
Boundaries have always been an issue for me. I would venture to guess anyone who has been in a relationship where they were physically violated has boundary issues. But just as challenging for me are emotional and psychological boundaries. In the past few years I have begun to realize and assert boundaries, often with very little grace and a lot of clumsiness. It’s a learning period. I intellectually understood my abuser had no right to contact me, by phone, email or Facebook comments. But in order to emotionally understand that truth I had to feel my own boundaries. This took time. When I began to publicly tell my story I took a quantum leap in boundary setting and my balance was very shaky at first.
|Returning to my own life I weep tears for the times I have been emotionally absent.
There is a bittersweet blend of sadness and hope in seeing your life with clarity.
Although I am learning that my boundaries can enable me to be vulnerable in many areas of my life, up until now I used the creative process to feel things fully and give those feelings and experiences form. This has been my lifeline. It is one of the most valuable things I have to offer from my life. I know how to tap into emotions I have vaulted up and left in darkness, experience them in the present and give them symbolic form with line, colors and shapes. A lifetime of thinking through pictures is now making so much sense. It has led me to where I am, and I am excited to continue discovering what there is to be known in this life, through the visions in my paintings.