Tag Archives: art therapy

ramblings about interim therapists and trauma work and body stuff

I’ve been seeing another therapist in Dr C’s practice while she’s been away. It’s been weird, but helpful in maintaining balance, especially with all this physical stuff going on. I didn’t really talk to her about much outside of “safe” things (things going on in the moment, dealing with the physical stuff that doesn’t have a medical explanation yet (or ever?), surface stuff). There were times I wanted to cover other stuff that wove its way into the session, but I couldn’t open my mouth. It felt like my lips were glued together, and even if I did manage to open them, all that would come out were sobs and screams…

That’s not a new phenomenon for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to open my mouth and tried to speak at a time like that. It taps into something I still don’t have an understanding of, and it never feels safe or comfortable enough to just let that part of me do whatever it needs to do for release… maybe I can bring it up with Dr C once she’s back again next week. I wish I could remember what it was that triggered that feeling.

I know before walking into the building, I had wanted to address the body memories that always get triggered (or more intense) when I get my period. We had kinda started taking about bodies, and how comfortable I was in mine (or not comfortable). We had talked a bit about liking or hating any particular part of my body. I said there wasn’t any part I liked. I should have said, there wasn’t any part I liked anymore because at one point, I had liked my eyes and my hands… but both have failed me since. My eyes either hide too much or tell too much; and my hands don’t create to my standards anymore (stupid trembling and fatigue). So no, right now there’s no part of me I like.

She also asked if there was any part I really hated. Of course there are parts I hate more than others, but there wasn’t enough time in the hour to tell her about it and still come out of the session balanced enough to go on with my day… I’m not totally sure I even want to write about it now, though there would be less explanation involved here than with her… I hate my pelvic area, and my stomach, and the insides of my legs. It’s where I feel the most uncomfortable memories, and what triggers the easiest. It’s the fastest way to send me to space…

A had asked if I’d ever done any body work (on paper) with Dr C. I told her I hadn’t, because even though Dr C had offered it, I panicked at the thought of tracing my body. A clarified that she meant doing it smaller scale. No, we never did do that… I’m not sure why the subject changed with A in that session. I think I started panicking and backpedaling into my head, because at some point, she asked how present I was & busted out a ball as a means of grounding (side note: it worked too! Who knew playing catch could actually bring me back? Normally, I can still do that stuff while dissociated. This time, the act of catching and tossing was balancing. Maybe it was the inconsistent way she did it? She would pause, look at the ball, change the speed of her toss… whatever it was, it worked).

Anyway… yeah. There were so many times I could have said more to her, but I didn’t want to get into it knowing that the hour would end too son, and I’d be left dealing with whatever came up for the rest of the week. At least with Dr C, I can reach out during the week if I need to. A did say to call if I needed anything, but I wouldn’t bother her. It takes me a long time to trust that it’s really ok to bug someone outside of the time they are getting paid to interact with me. Even with Dr C, I still hesitate much of the time, and I’ve worked with her on and off for almost 10 years now…

Oh, I remembered what I was originally going to say about the body drawing; it’s another thing where I feel frozen for fear of what I might do or say. There’s still that urge to destroy my body, even if it’s just a drawing. I still want to take a knife and stab the drawing on the parts I hate the most… or, since I no longer carry a knife with me, stab it with the pencil… that would probably freak her out, so… maybe some day I can mention that to Dr C, and we could find a way for me to be ok doing it in some form. The kid really wants to talk about it still. He has no words, just screams and sobs and anger… or silence. He’s usually just silent because the other stuff is not acceptable…

I really wish Dr C was back now. I wish this could be addressed while it’s still here & “relevant.” It’ll be gone again by next week. This is when that concept of easily accessible, more intensive treatment would be helpful; when stuff comes up and would benefit from being addressed in the moment, so it would be nice to be able to walk back into the room and get to work… let’s tackle this shit coz it’s here. Gimme that little body drawing, tack it to a tree, and let me stab the shit out of it. Let me rip it up and scream and cry and cover it in red paint so it bleeds like my body would if I did that to myself. Let me burn the page so it all goes up in smoke. He needs the release. I need the release…

Let me rip the legs off a toy, and bash it and destroy it… but then I’d need to apologize, because the toy did nothing, it’s just a receptacle for the anger. So let me run out into the woods and scream until my voice is hoarse, and my legs are so tired they want to fall off, and my breath burns in my chest (maybe my lungs would actually burn up. That would be an interesting medical & scientific impossibility)…

Sometimes the anger and the hurt is too much. Sometimes I want to disappear to a safe place where I can do something about it without weird looks and panic over my safety, because ultimately, I’ll be safe, this just all needs a release…

Why aren’t there trauma treatment centers in the middle of the woods, with animals and drop-in massage and art and yoga and holistic therapy like they have for substance abuse? And why is nothing local? Why is the only treatment center even remotely like that all the way across the country, and religious?! I want something with no BS about higher powers or gods or spiritual anything. Why does that not exist?! And why aren’t there more art or play therapists around? The kids want time too, but everything’s in an adult world, so they use translators instead…

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Ashes- mixed media panel

It didn’t start out specifically as something related to the loss of Chow, but it ended up that way…

I was just messing around with art supplies in an attempt to get myself unstuck from the grief. 

There were also 2 pages in my journal I played around with, but they are not finished yet. So far, they are just backgrounds: 

I  was experimenting with a rust texture set I dug out of the clearance section last week. This tag was the first thing I used the stuff on. I think it came out ok (much better than when I tried it on the blue page)… It will go on the blue page eventually. I can’t decide where to put it though. I really like how it pops when it’s in the bottom left corner, but I also really like the detail of that spot. I’ve been trying to make it work in other spots, but it seems to get lost in the chaos of the background anywhere else I try to put it. I might have to deal with covering up what’s easily my favorite area on the page. The other option would be to alter the tag or background in a way that allows the tag to be distinguished from the background. It may take me a while to figure that out…


Barbie gets a makeover; steps to an altered doll

Last week, I decided I wanted to turn an old barbie I had bought for mold-making purposes into an altered doll. It started because I’ve been struggling with some really graphic self harm thoughts. I was hoping expressing it on the doll would help alleviate them… it’s kinda working I guess. Either that, or the doll has me distracted enough to put the thoughts on the back-burner.

I had cut most of her hair off back when I thought of making a mold, so I decided to pluck out the rest of it to be able to sew in something else (it might be useful to note that hand-sewing doll hair is a pain, and painful. Even with a thimble to help push the needle through the plastic, my fingers are raw and sore from having to do it so many times… I’m not even half done yet!).

Anyway, I started with her hair change. I also removed her existing makeup. Painting a new face will be challenging, but I’m looking forward to that. I’ll have to thin even my high flow paint to avoid the brush lines visible with the white I had tried…

I’m planning on articulating her better as well. Currently, she’s only movable at the shoulders and hips. I’d like to bring a greater variety of motion to her other joints also. I did a quick YouTube search and found this video. It’s about articulating a Bratz doll, which is pretty much the same structure as Barbie, so I’m hoping it will work. I need to get my hands on some of the plastic molding stuff she’s talking about. I’m guessing I can find it online (amazon smile has been my best friend in finding random art supplies)…

I have ambitious plans for this doll. I want to figure out how to make it look like she’s pulling her own heart out. It seems that her body is hollow, so that should be easy enough… I just have to perfect my sculpting skills so I can make a heart I’m satisfied with. I’d also like to figure out some way to express dissociation. I’m not sure if I want to alter her head to accomplish that, or simply utilize facial expression…

There’s a measure of therapy involved in making this doll. It will be a blend of artistic expression and autobiographical depiction. I guess something along the lines of Hollywood creative nonfiction; the backbone of the story is true, but the details are exaggerated and embellished for dramatic effect…we’ll see how far I actually get with her. 

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I’m going to put some YouTube videos below for reference. I haven’t tried them yet, but I want to know what to come back to later. I would normally do this in a “private” post so you don’t have to see my note-taking, but it might be useful to others if they are also interested in making dolls… and if any of you have experience, feel free to critique or offer up suggestions. 


When art holds more power than you think it should (the baby, revisited) 

Why is the concept of this baby in a painting so disturbing to me? 

I couldn’t stop the panic around this painting of a baby existing. It was as if it was something from a Stephen King novel; that simply by having a painting of a baby, I was putting that baby in danger… 

I asked Dr C if she had a bit of time after group to either destroy or alter the painting. She had a few minutes, and we took the time to make the painting feel a bit safer. I really had just wanted to destroy it, but she suggested altering it first in case that helped. We added some elements and removed a few others. She then gave me a few options where to store it till our next session. I had her leave again it where she had originally put it (it was a high-up, safe place with other client art so it wasn’t all alone) … 

As I was leaving her office, I realized I really wanted to be at the beach… I needed both to not be home alone, and to be somewhere that felt healing & safe.  I weighed my options, and figured the beach would do me good.

I took the 50 minute drive there, and wandered around for a bit. I sat by the water. I let the waves wash over my legs and get my pants wet. I didn’t care that they would be damp for the rest of the day. I collected rocks and shells and feathers and bones. It helped distract me…

Since leaving Dr C’s office, I’ve had a mantra running through my head, trying to convince myself that the baby in the painting is safe in Dr C’s care. I’m really not sure why it means so much to me. It’s just paint on paper, and it’s not even spouses to be me as a baby. It’s a little boy with no face. I’m not totally site why it feels so in-danger.

Hopefully it will feel safe for the remainder of the weekend.


Kinda lost

Saw Dr C today. We did some art. It was around the concept of a baby, and how to keep that baby safe…

It came about because of my panic yesterday around the concept of ever having been a baby. I don’t really remember yesterday’s session, but I remember the dread and fear and panic and denial around her statement that I was born a good baby. All I could think was that I was never a baby… I couldn’t even fathom the concept of ever having been a baby. I knew at the time that pictures of “me” as a baby existed. I knew somewhere in my head that it’s impossible to be alive without ever having been a baby, but I couldn’t admit/understand/connect to ever having been one.

Later, after the session (and again today), I am mad at her for suggesting it. Part of me knows it’s a simple biological truth; I was at one time a baby, but… I wasn’t (or I can’t bring myself to accept it). There’s this huge fear around acknowledging that I may ever have been a baby. It pisses me off to think about it. The image that comes into my head when I think of myself as a baby is scary… I don’t want it.

Even now, as I write this, I’m angered by the thought of being a baby… angered and scared¬†terrified. It feels like someone might die; like I might die… and my heart rate soars through the roof… and I want to shred my body into a million little pieces so I don’t have to feel the fear and body sensations…

I don’t really know what to do with myself. Whatever was stirred yesterday in session, and re-surfaced today, is continuing to stir and bubble. I don’t know how to process it. I’m not sure what to make of it. The thought of more surfacing is intimidating. It’s creepy & scary & enraging… I hate it.

The baby in the art today had no face, or feet, or hands (though I painted in hands after she suggested it). If the baby has no face though, it can’t see the scary, or hear it, or cry (and get in trouble) or smell anything. The baby doesn’t know if anyone is coming, if they are good or bad, until whatever it is that’s going to happen will happen. It kinda protects the baby, but it also scares him… Dr C was looking for something. In the time she was searching, I grew more and more uncomfortable looking at the baby I had painted. I wanted to scribble over it, or spill paint over it – anything to obliterate the image of the kid. I censored telling Dr C that I wanted to erase the kid from the page. Instead, I asked what we were going to do with the baby because it was making me uncomfortable looking at it (what an understatement!). She said we were going to to make the baby safe. I had no idea what to do, so I tried to draw a protective person in the picture. Unfortunately, she turned out scary. I wasn’t sure how to fix it. I did a few other layers but it was only making everything worse. Dr C offered to help. She drew in someone holding the baby. I added a blanket to cover him… then time was up. As we were cleaning up, she asked if the baby was safe now… I told her he was “safer”, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call him safe. I blew out of there somewhat fast after cleaning up. I wanted to stay and change the picture more, but her light had gone off (indicating another client was waiting). I also felt like I needed to run away from there. It felt like trying to make the kid in the picture safe was a forced thing and wouldn’t really actually do anything to keep him safe. It felt like a facade…

Suddenly I’m out of that head-space. I know I have reactions to things, but once it disappears, it feels foreign. Those walls are back again, and are really high and thick. It feels like all my experiences happen in isolation chambers. If I’m not in the chamber, I really have no concept of what goes on there. I guess that’s the dissociation… I should ask Dr. C what the new name is for that diagnosis. It used to be DD:NOS, but I know the newest DSM changed that. I definitely have isolated experiences, but they are not so severely isolated that I would have “alters”. I just can’t really access much of the experiences unless I’m in that particular head-space. I may know they happened (or the general gist of it, most of the time… there used to be a time where I totally had no memory at all of days or even months), I just understand them as something someone else described to me once…

I should stop writing. My head is beginning to spin, and I’m losing focus on what I want to say.


Out of Phase

That’s it! He feels out of phase… I think maybe that’s why communication is so difficult.

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Art and life run parallel

Today, the orange and pink piece is very different. Drying dulled the colors. The gloss finish was too thick too fast and has cracked…

Fits the emotional experience… yesterday held promise of pretty. Today reveals the cracked, dark mess…

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