27 x 50 x 3 1/5 plaster + ink + oil + concrete + sand + acrylic + pearl mika + ground crystal quartz housed in a hand crafted poplar wood floating frame stained espresso.
One of the hardest parts of healing has been reflecting on the years of disconnection and dissociation that was mistaken for recovery. The further I pushed back the memories in my body/mind, the more delusional I became. I confused avoidance with progressive healing. I kept putting off the work and enabled unhealthy toxic core beliefs that were deeply embedded into my subconscious, ruling all my behaviors and reactions. The unhealthy coping methods that developed were destructive behaviors like pushing people away, people pleasing, isolation, overworking, unhealthy compulsive self-soothing gratifications, numbing with substances, eating disorders, fear of abandonment, and self-sabotage. I reacted out of fear of being hurt, fear of not being good enough, fear of failure, fear of vulnerability, fear of being loved, and the greatest fear of never feeling “normal.”
If you have struggled with dissociation, it is not hard to explain feeling disconnected from your own skin and body. How do you explain to someone who has never felt the terrifying sensation of feeling your heartbeat again after hours of feeling separated from yourself. Questioning if you are real, or if this has happened before. Like Deja vu. I unconsciously spent decades in a dissociated state, even while sober, avoiding the truth and the reality that my healing had not even begun yet.
My healing warrants me to welcome discomfort. I spent countless hours working with different therapists, specialists, advocates, sponsors, spiritual leaders, and anyone who knew anything about cPTSD. I was eager to figure out how to grab hold of myself when I started to slip away into the land of avoidance. To be completely honest, the only way I started to profoundly change my behaviors was after reflecting on the immense pain of how exhausted I was from living in the same cycle of avoidance, dissociation, shifting to complete panic.
After years of work, I now walk into the uncomfortable unknown and admit when I am not in a good place. I promise you that the discomfort of facing reality is easier than stuffing it in a box to save for later. I wish I opened those boxes earlier. I recently went through a dark period of depression and regret a few months into meeting my partner wishing I did the healing I needed to prior to meeting him. I have had to decide to trust universal timing. When I reflect on the deep vulnerable conversations with my partner about my trauma, hearing the words release from my body made me more self-aware than if I never had those conversations. In choosing to trust the universe, I bask in the gratitude that I am on a path of self-discovery that was meant to be postponed until I can handle it. I finally find gratitude in healing with my partner by my side, it has helped me learn firsthand how to trust men again.
The structured cities in this painting represent the boxes I stuffed each area of trauma in, unleashing each one by one as I float in my bodies center (represented by the white blurry path between each separate detailed patch). Aiming to keep myself just dis-attached enough to stay anchored in my body, while processing each area utilizing new healthy coping skills. I want my painting “dissociation” to provide a visual appreciation to the complexity of rewiring the nervous system after trauma.