Monthly Archives: April 2013

My Story, My Truth, My Art

Me in 1st Grade

Me in 1st Grade

TRIGGER WARNING: This content deals with one person’s story of child abuse and may trigger some people.

I’m finally ready to share something really important with you. I was an abused child. In some ways, I’m still that scared little girl, still hiding in the corner of the closet, terrified of people in power. Still afraid to speak, make the abuse worse, disgrace myself, or disgrace those who abused me. But, today, I’m feeling stronger and I’m ready to share my story.

When I was a little girl, my mom hit me with those big thick leather belts with huge metal buckles. She would use both the belt and, intentionally or not, the buckle, leaving welts on my legs, back, butt, and arms. If I got away from her and ran, she’d throw the belt after me. It felt like a war zone. I never knew what would set her off or when it was safe. It never felt safe.

I wasn’t safe at church, either. The preacher’s hellfire and brimstone reached us, through speakers, in the nursery and toddler rooms. I remember hearing that if I didn’t get saved, I might die in a car wreck on the way home and burn in hell for eternity. Even as the preacher called, with “Softly and Tenderly” playing in the background, I never did hear Jesus calling me. Instead, I feared Jesus, the devil, and the preacher. Sure, I did get “saved” when I was six, soon after another young girl, my peer, accepted Jesus Christ in front of the entire congregation. I had to keep up appearances. I hoped it would keep me safe from the preacher and maybe my mom. But not Jesus and not the devil. That was hoping too much. Jesus and the devil knew my thoughts, so I could never feel safe from them.

That fear went to school with me. At the end of each day, my first grade teacher would spank all the students that had not finished their work. I felt so threatened and so completely undone, that I had to be taken out of school. I wouldn’t get off the toilet because I always felt like I had to pee. Staying at my mamaw’s house, I’d sit on a tiny white pot in front of the TV watching Mister Rogers. Mamaw was always kind, always loving — thank goodness for her! Eventually, I got over my pee pot issues and went back to school. But, even now, when I smell my first grade teacher’s perfume or elementary school cleaning products, I feel sick, afraid, and unsafe.

As I got older, my mom stopped using the belt on me, using only her hand. The last time she hit me was when I was a teenager in the car. I said something she didn’t like and she backhanded me. We were on the way to see a therapist to figure out why I was so angry at my mom. I already knew why I was angry. I just couldn’t express it.

I carry my fear with me each and every day, a backpack full of emotion. I’ve felt decades of hurt, guilt, and shame. A little over a year ago, I finally started EMDR therapy to help the traumatized little girl in me. And it really has helped, a lot. I’m getting better, gradually, gratefully.

It has been a painful and powerful journey going from trauma to love. As I recently shared with my therapist, I take care of the little girl Dana by creating my art with tiny fragile beads. It’s peaceful time with her, with little Dana, showing her that it’s ok, safe. It’s quiet, calm, and really gentle in that space, that place of art. She likes it there very much.

As I become stronger, that little girl inside of me is coming out of the darkness, leaving behind the guilt and shame of abuse. I’m shining my light for her as I share my story, my truth, my art.

I want to dedicate this post to my dear friend. It’s safe and I love you. For you, and all of those like us, there is hope, help, and happiness after all. 

We’re All in This Together

 

There goes my pretty bus.

There goes my pretty bus.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I felt really bad yesterday. But I know three things that usually help: (1) name whatever it is that I’m feeling, (2) take care and do no harm, and (3) remember that we’re all in this together. Yesterday, life gave me a wonderful opportunity to practice.

Yesterday, my heart was feeling a bit heavier. Maybe, you were feeling it, too. On top of all that, here in Boulder County, Colorado, we’ve been getting frozen precipitation, lots of frozen precipitation. Snow and ice. Just being outside was unsafe and driving was extremely dangerous. So, I pulled out my list. First item, these threatening conditions exacerbated my anxiety. Second, how I would I take care of myself and do no harm? Leave the car and take the bus, instead.

I was setting out to help at the homeless shelter last night. It was my first time taking the bus there. When it  came time to change buses, I couldn’t figure it out fast enough. A woman I recognized from the homeless shelter overheard me asking for help. She told me when and where I could catch the free bus that would get me to the shelter. But, with a transfer ticket already in hand, I walked two blocks in the blowing snow to catch my bus. I made it to the shelter, worked my shift, and got back home safely.

Today, the sun is out and everything is thawing. I’m thinking about the homeless woman going out of her way to tell me about the free bus. It’s highly unlikely that she recognized me in my multiple layers and hat. She was simply looking out for me. She overheard me ask for help. To her, I was another woman in need. I tear up thinking about her. She reminded me of the third and most important part of my list — that we’re all in this together. She showed me kindness. She knows. She gets it.

Consarn it!

my stamp

Consarn it! Dagnabbit! Why can’t I get these stamps to come out right?!?

Sometimes, I forget that, part of, the beauty of my work is that it’s small — really, really small. Teeny tiny takes time. I thought I would share an example of what I’m working with and trying to accomplish. These almost microscopic stamps that I put on my pieces don’t stamp themselves. In fact, yours truly stamps them one by one.

Well, yesterday, I got myself all worked up and frustrated, trying to get the stamps to come out right. I was having an especially hard time, so I decided to take a few photos, instead. The photo, above, is my stamp. Notice that my company name is backwards. Go ahead, click on it. The photo on the bottom shows a successful stamp on a piece of silver. Look closely, it’s right there. Working on this helps me become more patient. At least, sometimes it does. Other times, I just get my panties in a wad. I’ll be back at it today.  I put my patient panties on this morning. Wish me luck!

success