Saving Grace

At the beginning of the year, when I chose the word HEAL as my intention, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew I wanted and needed to heal physically, but I wasn’t aware of how much emotional baggage I would have to tend to in order for that to happen.

Enter art therapy. What started as a twice monthly class has turned into 5 hours of classwork as well as 20-minute virtual chats with my art therapist. I am finding my way to my center through art. It is amazing what shows up on a canvas that I had no idea lay hidden deep inside me. Sometimes, it is just red and black scribbles that look like kindergarten art, and other times, it can be a mosaic of color revealing some emotion that I haven’t yet processed.

I am fascinated by this. Here is just one example of how process art is helping me. This first picture is a representation of me as Maiden, Mother, Crone.

If I interpret in one way, I can say that the maiden is in the middle, tied to the pain of her childhood. Her foot is in the flame, even though she has the key to unlocking herself and moving away from what holds her bound. The crone is soothing the child by bathing her other foot in cool water, beckoning her to come into nature to find herself. The mother is trying to teach the maiden to fly, to let go of all that keeps her stuck.

Another interpretation is that the responsible mother is in the middle, and she is tied to doing her business all by herself, without help. Again, she has the key to the lock, and she can decide that she no longer wants to try to wear all the hats in the business. She wants to ask for help. She is looking to the carefree nature of the maiden to learn how to play again, instead of taking life so seriously.

Here is the second painting, done after a morning of releasing anger. This is what I imagine the same picture to look like after I have broken free. The cage I sat in has melted in the fire, and I feel numb from the battle. I can feel the remnants of anger sitting with me, wondering why it took me so long to decide to let go of the past, to stop trying to do everything myself and to ask for help.

This is what I wrote in my journal:

Somewhere there is Grace- that is the name of the unknown entity that pulls me from childhood anger and holds me in the empty space. First, she asks me to close my eyes and just rest.

No longer with my feet in the fire, I allow this softness to envelope me- I am allowing compassion- the goddess Kuan Yin- to come to me. I rest my weary soul, and for this moment, I don’t have to know what comes next. After all the anger, there is only this moment. Perhaps that is all I ever need- This next moment, this next breath, and to feel Grace holding me.

Even now, as I look back at these images, I find another avenue to explore. I am fascinated that I never noticed that the maiden and mother were the same color. Maybe that is why I feel they easily exchanged places. I can be the fun one who chooses joy.

I am finding ways to express anger on a canvas. And that is actually a good thing. It is time to clear my body of these stuck emotions, so I can get back to living fully!

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