…An Invitation to Cross the Threshold into the Danger Zone.
Standing in my studio. Music of sweet memories playing in the backdrop of this encounter. I stand in front of a blank canvas. I intuitively choose paint and the brush calling me to today’s ritual of telling one of my stories. A bow of silence to call the ideas forward that want to be birthed in this moment. Hours feel like minutes of passionate release. A pretty picture is born telling a hidden story of my past. I would have many years of discoveries like this and, what I thought at the time, deep emotional healing from these intuitive moments. But something was askew. I started to notice how these pretty pictures were only showing one side of the stories they held (the ones I could at the time touch and bare to see) and fear would begin to override any feelings of success and joy. Worry consumed with intense pain in my belly, I would feel lost again on how to access the pathway to healing and wholeness.
Recently I discovered; I am an emotional by-passer (self-diagnosed) of really hard shit. Years ago, I would wonder what that meant and even scoffed at the very idea. I’m a deep diver. I… go…deep. I go into all the problems. I sort, process and repeat. I find the ways calling me to heal everyday but when it came down to the nitty gritty of an intense past and the intentionality of healing with creativity, was I really deep diving?
There is a deepening of seeing and guidance when I teach others. If I can show others how to find their voices of pain with art, I must be finding mine right? As I grow stronger in helping others, a new question came out from the shadows… with this birthright of art medicine, was I helping myself in the same ways I help my world? How was I tapping my own medicine to get to the source of these tragedies? What conversations was I having with these beautiful works of art? When it came time for my own care, how much was I present in this creative process when the rubber met the road? I got curious about how good it feels when I create and how lovely my pictures can be. I wanted to know where the conversations were held for these untold stories in these delicate and passionate works of art. Especially the “ugly” and dark ones. Why couldn’t I look at them beyond their colorful parts, the parts that deemed redemption and crowned I am not a victim any longer? There were still so many road blocks and open wounds. I didn’t want to see them for what they truly were/are- hardships, neglect, abuse, violations and trauma. They spanned the test of time and didn’t belong to only me. I found an abundance of care and gentleness with these creations. I heard gratitude in my thoughts and offerings to the birth of these powerful images. But I began to ask, why am I not healing fully? Why do I feel my mind scattering, my panic worsening, my worry spiraling around what I had thought were my darkest parts? Why are my feelings of shame and bitterness getting louder? And as these voices and feelings of confusion became boisterous and clingy, I added more creativity and ways to distract.
Create more, I thought. Find different ways to push and pull what you know and gravitate towards in your heart and spirit. Learn from others-especially women. And I did. Yet, woundedness would become unbearable. When I thought the key to unlocking my pain was still out there, I would reach for even more. Someone must know more than me…and that’s when my eyes opened. I could see in those creative moments, where I was doing and trying to get something right or correct. I was not trusting the process and was solely focused on releasing a story, a narrative that did not belong to me or one that I didn’t want to belong to me any longer. I was trying to rid myself of this burden. I wanted there to finally be an end. And in a heartbeat, I realized there would be no naming and claiming without these abandoned, hidden, dark, shadowy parts.
A quiet voice in my head would appear in bold bright colors (a message I have shared for years with others). “The wisdom is in you dear one”. And in that moment, I would close my eyes and hold my heart. I would reach for my red thread of life-the one connected to all the universe. I would wrap myself in its care like wrapping a newborn taking her first breath, connecting me to the ground and ensuring a safe return at any time. Cradled in love I would leap into the deep, deep dark where I must travel intentionally seeking answers from within my great beyond. Gracefully and thoughtfully I pick up a cinder of ash from the fire and allow my own wisdom to flow onto the page of new life. Purposefully entering the danger zone, knowing trust and safety were closely clipped hip-side. In this moment of no color and no words, my true listening would take hold and shed the untold stories of pain. I would discover that healing cannot progress without honor and acknowledgement of all its parts first. They would always be with me, never far from sight but definitely out from the darkness. Creations of prettiness flood my mind of bypassing these real moments out of fear. Today I hold fast and I allow. I loosen my grip around my need for ornamental pictures. I understand the need of lots of hugs and warmth to feel safe in the art. Pretty pictures do that for me. I can see the band-aids placed over the darkness and I also see the nuggets of freedom held inside.
These marks, my marks would be the way and the wisdom would come to life in its tracks needing only my presence. Healing would begin with honoring the holds over my wounds. They would be released from banishment and stay in the light by claiming the darkness first. I learned there are pretty pictures that want to be born and sometimes they have something to say if I stick around to ask. There are times for floating on the top with intuitive and intentional art making. None of which is bypassing emotion if I show up in presence. And when I dive deep into the cracks and crevices of this life, I am worthy of such an adventure to stake claim to my past. The threshold into the really hard shit (AKA the danger zone) will always be close at hand inviting me in to accept its offerings and gifts of healing.