Healing Distractions

My first drawing from last night.

A part of me knows that when I visit my mother, there’s always a backlash.  And a part of me always forgets.

It was the day after my visit that  I started to get anxious, felt overwhelmed and started to believe that I wasn’t capable of doing the everyday things that it requires to live my life.  The old fear was back.  The one that surfaces when I visit family.

I’ve been working on how to visit my mother and not get sucked back down in the dark hole of self denigration for years.  Seeing her is a trigger.  I revert back to the unknown, voiceless person I used to be.   It takes me a day or two before I can get back to myself, to who I am now, after seeing her.

The problem arises more from what isn’t said, than what is.  The damage is in the silence.  In my not being able to speak my truth.  In her not wanting to hear it.

My mother is almost ninety years old.  I know this isn’t going to change.  So I do what I can when I can.

I visit my mother on holidays and birthdays, and sometimes in between.  More than some people see their parents, a lot less than most of the other members of my family see my mother.

It’s better than it used to be.  I’m better at not lying to myself about what I’m really feeling, about not deceiving myself, which sinks me into that dark hole, quicker and for longer.

Last night, when I felt myself descending, I remembered the article, by Bellydancer, Alia Thabit  about how doing something like drawing or dancing re-organizes our nervous system.

She writes that trauma disrupts the nervous system.  When we distract ourselves from a past trauma that has us in its grip,  it can  pull us out of our suffering and make us feel better.

I know this.

I’ve been doing it for a long time. Probably even longer than I’m aware of.   I know I feel better when I draw or sew or dance. (I almost always feel great about myself after a bellydancing class)  I just never thought of it as re-organizing my nervous system.

The other thing is that each time we distract ourselves from our suffering in this way, we heal a little more.

With this in mind, I took out my sketch pad and markers on Sunday night and did a few drawings.

I wasn’t aware of it as I was drawing them, but looking at them today,  I think the drawings themselves speak of the change in my mood from one to the next.

Understanding whats going on in my body, why when I draw or dance or sew, I feel better is helpful for me to know.  I think because it feels like proof of what I’ve been experiencing.  And It makes sense to me.  I can imagine my nervous system rearranging itself back into place as I concentrate on my drawing, that it needs me to get out of the way, for it to heal.

You can read Alia Thabit’s article Why Distractions Are A Good Thing (and why dance makes a great distraction) here.

The second drawing from last night


6 thoughts on “Healing Distractions

  1. Just curious, any insight into all the doors? You have become quite the blogger, so open and honest, it really hits the heart. Thanks for sharing

    1. Thank you Carolyn. I realized when I was making the first drawing that my doors in my drawings are always open, but when I was making the first drawing, open doors didn’t feel right. In thinking about it, having so many of them is probably my way of making the point unambiguously.

  2. Dear Maria, Thank you for poignant truth about your relationship with your mother; and how you cope with it. My mother and I were very close. She was very different from me yet very supportive and she’s been gone for 40 yrs. But then there’s my father… My relationship with him mirrors yours with your mother. I appreciate your insights!!

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