In my mind I see Alice tumbling head over heals into a giant, dark and endless, can of paint. That’s how I felt yesterday, tumbling, tumbling, even as I balanced barefoot on the seatless chair, my ladder, to scrape the paint from the eave of my studio. The flakes falling on my face and in my hair, the familiar sweet taste in my mouth. There was no joy in painting that protective coat of sunny yellow on the final wall of my studio. Just the drive to get it done, to have it done.
And with each dip of the paint brush, I fell deeper into the dark hole as I was assaulted by memories of when I spent a big chunk of my life painting. Painting whole houses inside and out. Painting by default, not because I liked doing it, but because it was something I could do. I call it my “other life” my “last life” the one where I gave myself away. The one where I wasn’t known and let other people define me.
And each memory brought me back further, deeper. Back through time, I relived the deterioration of my first marriage, and the beginning of that same marriage when I couldn’t stand up for myself. And back further to a time when I saw the marriage as a way to get away from the home I grew up in. The place where my feeling of worthlessness, shame and aloneness, where the anxiety and panic that ruled my life for so long, began.
And I painted on, determined to get it done, determined not to have to finish it another day, knowing I might not be able to get myself to do it again. And with each brush stroke, falling deeper and deeper into the darkness.
I supposed I didn’t want to acknowledge what was happening to me until the painting was finished. Because I wanted to get it done and because I was trying to avoid what I was feeling. But I see now that painting was a trigger. And I think a part of me knew it would be, a part of me needed to go to that dark place to feel the pain and release it. Which is just what happened.
When I was done, I closed the paint can, wrapped my brush in a plastic bag and headed for the Adirondack chairs, that secret garden in our back yard. And I started tapping, a technique I learned years ago, that has always worked for me. And I suddenly saw everything in a yellow haze. I looked at the sheep who were grazing in front of me and the flowers that surrounded me and felt as if I had just been cured of an illness. And that a dark and shadowy past was behind me and I was in my new life.
As I shook out my hands, Jon came out of the house. He somehow knew, he said, he could feel something was happening. And I told him about the darkness and I as I cried, I felt the pain, old deep pain, without words, rising up and I cried harder. That was when Red sat next to me (he followed Jon out of the house as he does) and I placed my hand on the back of his neck. And I could feel the pain and emotion draining through my arm and hand as if something in him was drawing it out of me. And I worried about giving him to much of it, even though I knew he would shake it off, as animals do.
I’ve always seen my studio as a healing place, but never in this way. Yellow is the sun and moon and color of personal power. I think I went into the darkness inside of me yesterday and dug up some old and damaged ideas about myself and let them go. And with their release came a new awareness of my own strength and a stronger sense of self. Which were always inside of me, I just couldn’t see them. It’s taking a long time, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be done with it, but little by little I’m seeing the truth and finding my way back to me.
18 thoughts on “Finding My Way Back To Me”
Thank you for sharing and sharing with such heartfelt clarity.
Good for you, Maria! I’ve never had an experience like this, but I do know about triggers that bring buried pain to the forefront. I’m glad Jon, and Red, was there for you.
ALthough I haven’t done it in a long time a similar technique to tapping is EMDR. I remember how wasted I felt immediately afterwards, then how good the release felt. Glad you’re feeling better. Who can’t feel good surrounded by sunny yellow walls. Like you’re inside a sunflower!
yes! inside a sun flower!
Thank you for sharing this wonderful story of self-awareness and magnificent growth! You are a truly amazing person whom I learn from with every post you send. I love your art work and I love the color yellow you have chosen for the side of your studio. It lights up the farm as do you by your presence.
Love from Fran
I grew up much the same way…in a home where my dad left when I was in 2nd grade and a neighbor girl told me I no longer had a dad and that he had left my mom and me. He came in and out of my life three or four times throughout my life…for a few hours at a time…
My mom had a variety of boyfriends and when she remarried he cheated on her and she kicked him out and then she tried to kill herself when I was 16…I had no one to turn to and she left a suicide note didn’t mention me at all. I called a dr whose name was on the bottle of pills she took and he came to our house….(I found my mom and she was barely aware I was home…) I had spent the night with a girlfriend…anyway the Dr told me to never mention it to her again and that she didn’t really mean to do it or she would have succeeded in doing it. I just sat there and cried feeling so completely alone and worthless and scared. I will remember this moment all my life…and I am 78 now…my dad had moved to Canada and remarried…he gave me a jacket made and beaded by the Indians which I adored and wore a lot…one day it disappeared…my mom had destroyed it….it devastated me…and to this day I wish I had that jacket that my dad cared enough about me to have made for me….but I had to let all that go and forgive my mom (I was in therapy for awhile to deal with my feelings and they said if I didnt forgive her when she died I would have a hard hard time dealing with it….I did forgive her and became her and my stepdads caregiver in later life and was very close to my mom then…..just thought I would share this Maria as your blog really brought all of this back to me…….
Maria, I have read this post several times and find it more intriguing every time. To be able to understand and give words to the darkness you were feeling was amazing, and then to be able to be heard and comforted by dear Jon and dear Red…. “awesome” is so overused but it is all so, well, AWESOME. As well as spiritual, beyond words, an experience that transcends the physical senses. Your willingness to share at this level and to expose your vulnerability touches me deeply.
It definitely did transcend physical and verbal senses Sally.
Congratulations. Well done!
GOOD FOR YOU…
Maria, for me it doesn’t take much to flip me back into my past and although I had a happy childhood, not without its problems with family issues, my life from thereon in has presented some major challenges for me and I can find myself revisiting it when certain things trigger it. I’d say from the sounds of it that you took a good portion of your former life and ditched it into the paint pail last week-end…not easy but good for you for doing this. Your studio looks fresh and inviting and for the Open House will look very attractive.
SandyP in Canada
It’s a good visual, dumping it in the paint pail Sandy.
Maria, I felt this all the way through. Thank you!
Would you be willing to say more about how you use tapping?
Trish, I’m not sure exactly how it works, but it has to do with tapping your finger on certain pressure points ( I used some on the hands, head and chest) and it releases the energy, similar to acupuncture I think. I usually speak while I”m doing it, words or sentences saying what my intention is. Then shaking off the hands and sometime my whole body when done. Here’s a link to a video on YouTube: link
This is very beautiful Kate. Thanks and a terrific blog too.
Wow. So powerful. How cleansing… Thank you for sharing this.