There is a path many women take while journeying through difficult experiences. I believe that in the journey to self love, we first need to come to terms with our emotions. Sad or happy, scared or courageous, allowing ourselves to be human, to feel, and to honour the emotions as they come and go - as long as we don't use them as an excuse to hurt others.
I am so pleased that many were affected by the theme of my recent solo art show at The Chapel Gallery in Bracebridge, and that a dialogue was started around this path to healing.
When we are thrust into a situation that illicits such pain, the first emotion is often pure shock. This painting, "Vertigo", begins the story with bold, quick, red brushstrokes evoking the suddenness with which we realize the gravity of our new situation. Almost as if gasping for breath, the colour fades from our skin. Head spinning, "vertigo" truly sets in, both physically and emotionally. Safety that was once taken for granted now eludes us. Nothing is certain, we question the reality of our past, fear for our future, and question the stability of the present.
Once the shock has settled, there comes a sort of bargaining. Perhaps the situation isn't so bad, things can still change, I can change. And so was born the painting "En Pointe", from the ballet dance term where the dancer is on her tip toes. The dance begins as we try to put things back the way they were. If only we eat properly, our health will return, if only we look perfect and keep a perfect home we will be accepted, if only we say the right things others won't be angry, if only...
My subject sits proper in her pretty yellow skirt. Doing everything she knows how to -to be perfect. Yet darkness is closing in on her once bright world, with only a few bright paint strokes remaining. I chose to paint her fading into background to illustrate that we often lose much of ourselves in this dance to please everyone. This phase of the journey can last years, until the pain becomes intolerable. It often is intertwined with shock and the various phases that are to follow, before an awareness sets in that our dance is ineffective and damaging to our souls.
"Compliance my prison bars, tolerance my chains", so I wrote beneath the next painting "Captive". At times by circumstances beyond our control and other times by a sort of choice we tolerate a situation, and comply with requirements put upon us. Walls begin to close in on us, we feel suffocated by our responsibilities - perhaps forgetting who we are - if we ever even knew. Expectations, self induced duties, guilt, and shame can become prison bars. Only when we realize these things are not set in stone can we see that the prison door has always been open. We were always free to walk away from the expectations, to create our own boundaries.
When circumstances beyond our control are at play, the prison bars can be real. The path through the difficult emotions is a slightly different one. A healing can still occur, however may require continual processing and strategizing to feel some freedom.
The above emotions of shock, bargaining and feeling imprisoned, begin the path. Many emotions play out. These are ones that I have experienced and have seen in other women. If you feel something different, that is okay. Every emotion is allowed. That is what I am learning. Embrace the feelings, sit with them, learn from them, and when they are ready to go, feel the strength from having survived them. You are wiser, more aware, more empathetic of others. Use these as gifts to yourself, your children, your friends, your family - for humanity.
Coming up I will post three more paintings that I feel belong on the path. Let me know below, or private message me through email, if you resonate with any of the above paintings, and if so which one. I'd love to hear from you.