The Path Back

Yesterday I started to get my strength back.  I could feel it’s presence low beneath my belly.

It was on Saturday when the healing began.  When I became aware that I had slipped deep into a place of shame and self loathing.  A place where my confidence and belief in my self shrinks, making me feel voiceless and helpless.

It’s a painful place, one I would rather not go. And so I tried to avoid it, pretend it wasn’t happening, that I wasn’t feeling it.

Being in that place were I believed I had done something terribly wrong,  something  that made me feel great shame and not being able to understand that it wasn’t true, plunged me into the state of anxiety I was living in last week.

Once I was able to go to that place and feel it to its fullest, when I was able to  understand that I hadn’t done anything wrong,  that it wasn’t my fault, that what I was feeling had paralyzed me for most of my life, I began to heal.

I don’t know for sure what triggered it, but I have a feeling it was a combination of things.

One incident from my trip keeps coming back to me.

It was the day I found out I wouldn’t be teaching potholder making in the place where we had planned.  I felt I recovered from that disappointment by the next day and then working with the women at House of Hearts seemed to make it all right.

But what I didn’t allow myself to feel was the sense that I had been at fault for not being able to work with the original group of women as planned.  I immediately blamed myself, and my  sense of self worth quickly diminished.   I wasn’t good enough and neither was my work.    And because I was psychologically thrown into that place, I wasn’t  able to stand up for myself, to protect myself, by simply speaking up and questioning what happened.

And as I sat there, feeling helpless, unable to speak, the blanket of shame descended on me.

I never acknowledged all those feelings, didn’t deal with them, so I carried them around with me.

I think the thing that brought them up again was going back to my studio to work after not being there for a month.  I didn’t realize how much my art, my routine, and the rhythms of the farm keep me grounded and sane.

My art is my identity. It is who I am. When I am not doing it for a long period of time, I vanish. Again.

Not being in the studio for so long threw me off.  That and  the emotional and physical experiences of the trip.  I was worn out.

I was supposed to be re-entering my safe place, my studio and work. But suddenly it wasn’t safe anymore.  I doubted everything I did, found it hard to express myself or even understand what I was feeling.

The old anxiety rose in me, a symptom of the abuse that made me feel so bad about myself for so long.

It was becoming aware and admitting that I was feeling the shame and seeing it wasn’t true, that started the process of bringing me back.

That was Saturday morning.  Jon, who has been through this process so many times himself and with me, reminded me that I’d be feeling some grief after coming to awareness. It was natural to mourn the losses that came with  trauma.

So Saturday I rested.  I took the advice of all the good people who urged me to do so.  I sat most of the day reading Rachel Cusk’s new novel and drinking tea. It brought me to a place of ideas where nothing much happens.  The most soothing and nourishing thing I could think to do.

Sunday was better and last night I posted my new quilt on my blog, with just a whisper of self doubt.

So I’m coming back.  It’s a messy path and far from a straight line, but I’m on it.

8 thoughts on “The Path Back

  1. Maria, you are one of the most gifted fiber artists out there! Stop doubting yourself girl and stand up and be proud of your work! All that matters is how you and Jon view your work and you know it is exquisite! You are evolving again and maybe that change is what is unsettling, but the end result will be fabulous! So, carry on and inspire the rest of us with your continuing growth and beautiful quilts.

  2. Maria, I appreciate and admire your vulnerability and honesty in this post. Incidentally, I think your new “Two Worlds” quilt is one of the most beautiful pieces you’ve ever made. Keep up your good work and know that this long-time fan from Providence, RI is watching with interest.

  3. I love this snowy picture of the farm. Glad you are feeling more like yourself and hoping for better and warmer sunny days.

  4. Hi Maria. Your art work inspires me as does your written word. I find myself being encouraged to go deeper and wider because of these gifts from you. Today the messages I take are authenticity and courage. Thank you for
    sharing your healing journey.

  5. Dear, Dear, Maria, WHAT AN INSPIRATION YOU ARE TO ALL OF US!! NO MATTER HOW MANY DARK EMOTIONS COME TO HAUNT YOU, YOU REFUSE TO LIVE IN THEM!! You face all of it with courage, take a deep breath, and keep on moving into your own DESTINY! You are an important example for girls and women on every continent. Annie

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