WHEN TALKING WAS NOT ENOUGH & THINKING GOT IN THE WAY
Talking therapy, as oppose to 'working' therapy, was not working for me. Having acquired v.good coping skills over years of being self-reliant, as well as my own 'philosophy' on life, this strength became my weakness on entering therapy: I wasn't willing to break down my defenses and show raw feelings in front of my therapist.
I took control by deciding to write a book about me. I bought a huge pink file, lots of creative material, and set about writing my memories down, my poems, drawing my dreams, collecting photo's of my 'growing up', creating time-lines etc.
I slowly add bits to the file. I decorated the file, with a collage on the back of a fairytale house, to dispell Myth 1 that the home is a sacred place (I survived incest). I printed my favourite quote on the spine:
I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat ~ Rebecca West, 1892 - 1983. (Yes, I'm a closet feminist).
But this wasn't enough. I decided to buy clay and dispell Myth 2 that fathers don't molest daughters, by making a model of a bed with a father and daughter in it. Or rather two lumply looking things with acorn-style haircuts.
The result was astonishing. For one who finds it difficult to open up in therapy, I have been overcome by all kinds of feelings and memories. While creating, I am engrossed, I don't think: I just 'do', make whatever idea I have become real.
But after making the bed, I felt physically ill. I hate the sight of it. I hate the yellow bedspread & pretty flowers and blue headboard. I am angry. I want to smash it. It produces a very strong reaction that I can work with. It made me aware that I am afraid, and I swore blind in all therapy sessions that I'm not afraid of my father.
Then I made a greivance necklace for Myth 3 - families support you - it's clay beads, for each time my family did not support me, and they are coloured in different emotions - blue for sorrow, red for anger, black for grief, etc.
The whole thing has started rolling and I'm enthused with ideas. The hardest thing is to make a representation of myself - I get images of broken dolls in my mind, and I now realise how much I dislike myself, whereas I didn't realise this before.
And how the file comes together is revealing to. My dreams are in colour text in nice font, laminated, and put in like my poems - but the part of the abuse, I tie the pages together in pink ribbon, and want to put cotton wool over the pages for the dark images and depths of my personal anguish, I feel, need to be protected. And it isn't surprising this section is the least full.
I had to think of chapters, such as 'friends', 'my homes', 'dreams' etc, and this made me think of how I view my life, where I lay my priorities.
Anyhow, I leave my file and made objects with my therapist, as if I'm trusting her with parts of myself, & take stuff over to hers that I've worked on at home.
And the point of all this is that therapy has completely changed around for me. I am getting in touch with real raw emotion and I envisage a day when that file is full of all I want to deal with, and my story is told, and my poor therapists desk is full of odd looking creations. And I know in my heart when that day comes, I will be able to say 'I am whole again, this book is who I am', and I'll feel healed. And I'll break that fucking bed. Sorry.
This has made therapy fun for me also, which is important because part of healing is reclaiming my lost childood. And I'm constantly being forced to re-assess my perceptions of things, as each new defense is knocked down. I'm thinking & feeling things I didn't know about - I guess this working art-therapy works for me because I can intellectualize about my abuse very well - but being purely creative bypasses the 'thinking process' for me, and gives me something tangible to work with, it makes the abstract into something material.
The clay bed is now safely put away in my therapists home. I realise that not only does it make me afraid, but it makes me angry. Angry that my sexuality was stolen from me by my father. When I have dealt with my fear, I will deal with my anger ~ by smashing the bed to bits.
My therapist asked questions about the collage I made of my fairytale home. I didn't know that from a psychoanalytical point of view, the house represents the person who draws it. Well, it is isolated, windows & doors shut, hard to get to, cut off from other people & surrounded in magical fairies. Go figure.
I still talk in therapy & try to cling on to my old thinking patterns... but the more I get in touch with my feelings thru creativity, the more these perceptions of mine are tested and changed. I feel like I'm slowly waking up from a bad dream, and seeing the world through new eyes.
(Edited by lea at 10:45 pm on Aug. 10, 2002)
(Edited by lea at 10:47 pm on Aug. 10, 2002)