Self Assessment

| By Paul | | Comments (23)

Art Therapy Child Abuse Recovery

No more church news for me. Well, I know there is news, but I have been making a conscious decision to tune it out and not read any. The fact is that I was really destabilized by all of what has been happening.

I had thought I left the hospital last month in better shape than I really did. Unfortunately, it was one of those situations where I actually left standing on quicksand, and life quickly got out of control. There were very highly functional parts of me in the fore, but also very dysfunctional (and dangerous) parts were equally in the fore. I could not keep track of everything, hence the post We Have Met the Enemy... from a couple weeks ago.

And so I am back in the hospital. So far here, it feels like I have still not really been able to gain any traction. Though this post may be one step towards gaining some.

This morning's art therapy group was focused on self-assessment, with the directive to represent body sensations, thoughts and emotions contained in a circle. With many of these directives, I have to think a lot about what I want to do and why and I am very deliberate. I did not do that this time. I just focused on the process.

I see this is the first art posting on the blog using oil pastels. I rather like working with them because once you lay down the vibrant color, you can use your fingers to blend and it becomes a very tactile process.

The only conscious decision made was to choose red and black.

Looking back on the image, I see the black jagged barrier as separating me in two. The black splotches represent parts of me. It appears they are trapped. But it is unclear to me that they would be any better if the barrier would be removed, since the top half of the picture is the same scary red as the bottom half.

All I know is that we are separated now. The collaboration is not there. And I am stuck.

23 Comments


Jenepher said:

Thank you, Paul. I know how much courage it takes to breath in and out, right now; at least it did for me. And, I so appreciate your willingness to share the real process of healing.

I know that you don't need to hear me say it. But, good job... and keep on going!!!
It's worth it.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Jenepher:

Thank you Jenepher. I'm trying... even though I'm swimming upstream.

castorgirl said:

This is a stunning piece of work... The vibrancy of the red jumps out at me immediately. I wonder if the scariness of the red wouldn't be as extreme if the contrasting black barrier was removed? Would the lack of contrast tone down the overall colour?

One moment at a time...

Sending positive thoughts,
CG

Paul Author Profile Page replied to castorgirl:

Thanks CG. Yes, maybe if the black barrier weren't there, that would be the place we are used to being in. I'm trying to keep the 'one moment at a time' philosophy.

katie said:

hi paul, i'm very sorry to hear that you're struggling. but i'm glad you were able to recognize it, reach out for help, and are now taking step after step to feel better.

sending kind wishes your way~

Paul Author Profile Page replied to katie:

Thanks Katie. I feel very lucky to have this safe place to come back to. Though I'm not sure the steps are moving me forward. Hard to keep that perspective.

katie said:

i think i know what you mean, paul. for me, healing never feels like a straight line towards more positive. more like i take a few steps forward, a few back, a few in circles and so on. that idea that you might feel worse before you feel better always comforted me.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to katie:

Yeah, I get what you are saying Katie. I'm just saying I'm not so on board with the backwards steps. But, yes, I do hear what you are saying and you are so right. Thanks!

Katie said:

yes indeed, paul. it can feel so sad, scary and helpless. i do hope things get better for you soon.

OneSurvivor said:

I am saddened to read that you are back in the hospital...yet glad that you have that to go to.

Red and black...vivid colors. Dark colors. Contrasting colors. Some would also say they are cult colors. Only "you" really know what they represent.

I remember reading in an art therapy book that the medium we use can make a difference in how much our emotions are tapped into. Heavy mediums, like oil pastels, tend to go deeper into the emotions than lighter mediums like water colors.

I am very tired...so I don't know if any of that helps you or not. It is just what came to mind.

Please know that you are cared about!

Paul Author Profile Page replied to OneSurvivor:

Thanks OneSurvivor and Evan. It is kind of different for me to choose oil pastels. I have avoided them partly because they don't store well (colors rub off onto other papers). But for some reason I was drawn to them. Perhaps it is as you say, that heavy mediums are tapping deeper into emotions. I like that.

Evan said:

That's a really powerful image Paul.

Hope the time in hospital goes well for you.

Austin said:

You're right that if the black line were removed everyone would be in the red, however, there would be much more room to move around. The black line divides the room limiting your space to grow within the current boundaries. It could also cause a feeling of isolation and hopelessness. If the line weren't there or was but could be crossed over it might allow the red to flow instead of stand stagnant.

That's what I thought when reading the entry and seeing the piece, without the line you have more room to move and a healthier flow which could lead to healthier living.

Austin

Laura said:

Paul, sorry to hear you're in the hospital, but I'm also glad for your sake that you are in a safe place where you can rest and receive support.

Your piece is really interesting, and I really identify with it - it actually really affected me as I am also having a difficult time and I feel like I am sitting on one side of a wall, with all of my parts on the other. I'm trying to understand them and help myself to heal but it feels really complicated.

Best wishes to you,

Laura

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Laura:

@ Austin: Thank you. Yes, I totally get that. I had this sense, when I was laying down the red, that it wasn't that much better. So, the goal would be to both remove the black barrier (or make it porous) and soften the red to make it more livable.

@ Laura: Thanks! I often find that when things are most complicated, then there is a giant leap to come. One positive way to look at things is that they cannot stay hopelessly complicated forever. Yes, the hospital is safe and removes a lot of 'behaviors', but forces me to struggle with what feels intolerable.

Ivory said:

Oh, Paul! I am hoping you get that stronger foothold needed to calm and center you. Your picture is telling. I'm going to take a guess that you don't like red. It's, as you said, scary. So I'm wondering if instead of being a barrier, the jagged line is really a safety net, keeping the parts of you safe from the "red".

In any case, hope you are home and healthier soon.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Ivory:

Thanks Ivory. I get what you are saying. I know I use a lot of red in art. It means intolerable emotions to me, plus maybe some other things (and even parts) that I'm not comfortable with. But things are shifting. I did another art piece today and I will see if I can put that into context. I'm still not sure whether or how I will share it here.

Paula said:

I am so sorry to hear what you have to deal with presently.

These strong colors have a deep impact in me, particularly as both are colors I seldom use! I can see why you feel so cut off, yet for myself I would see a strong straight black line crossing the image much more separating than this zig-zag line. It shows dynamics, movement, it isn't a bold unpenetratable line, not a harsh wall, it gives way.

For me a harsh wall would be frightening to me. I would feel like I hit my head on a wall without ever leaving an impact on that wall. Your dynamic line, as bold as it may seem, has a point where is it becomes stretched too far and breaks open.

Please be kind and gentle to yourself. I keep you in my thoughts.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Paula:

Thank you Paula. I think it's great that you see optimism (movement) in what I see as being stuck. I guess in some sense you are correct. Red can have many meanings, including scary ones, but it's a "hot" color, combined with the jaggedness of the black line, there is definitely a sense of movement, even if intolerable and confined. I can remember when I made the images, I had this sense of wanting to "get stuff out". I wanted to portray that I felt stuck. But I think I know that I don't have to stay stuck like I used to. I think that was what I was trying to say. Thanks for helping me to think about it some more.

coach2 said:

Paul-some impressions.

On your Jan. 22nd visual art... distinct red-pieces, black-pieces, white-pieces,not contained but also not in same plane... (Much like depicted in castorgirl's Heading is displayed.) Then her blog on Boundaries... there was her red and Black art piece.

The depth of Red and Black as emotion, or parts kept in balance, in expressing is the essence of survival.

I have red/ black in an art piece, defining inescapably as the depth of despair/helpless (black) and rage (red) held in check to maintain a surviving front. Odd: I always flash onto the wooden discs checker pieces painted just so deeply in our 1950's home game of Checkers.

I feel the two colors as always needing distinct boundaries, counterbalance in order to have order.

When I see your picture, the thick traverse, as well formed, quickly formed boundary which is functioning with full force and purpose. The separating wall/barrier so imperative to allow the lower parts to be. To exist. A picture of strength, necessary stength, really.

You mentioned the lower 'blotches' as trapped. I'm assuming you're seeing them as represented below a divider, not able to have free form to circulate through out the circle. To me they appear safe.

Do take care, you offer so much taking the time to blog with so much going on for you.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to coach2:

Thanks Coach. Yes, my art and Castorgirl's do share many similarities. But they are not unique. I have seen such similarities with many others. Red and Black have always been key colors for me, especially when I see things more in extremes. I'm not really sure how to think of that image now. I'm about to put up a new one today.

Paula said:

Hi Paul. Passing by to say I am thinking of you. You are not alone. Hugs across the pond.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Paula:

Thanks Paula.

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This page contains a single entry published on May 11, 2010 2:05 PM.

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