When I feel well (enough) I like to keep my hands busy. While I’ve been recovering from major surgery I’ve spent a lot of time idly watching art videos, but have also sat quietly at my desk playing with paint, collage and glue. Here’s some of the pages I’ve done in my small Dylusions journal.
As is often the case, I’ve turned to a song to say all the things I can’t find the words for. I love writing letters & blogging, and I’m a fairly slow deep thinker. Yet, when it comes to emotions, I’m suddenly voiceless.
It’s the same for many addicts. Saying what’s in the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds is too hard, too scary, and makes us too vulnerable. On the flipside, that vulnerability is very healing. Through counselling, a lot of effort, and patient friends, I’ve healed a lot in the last year or so; healing that will help me maintain a healthy weight as I get further and further post weight loss surgery.
This page uses the lyrics from P!nk’s song ‘Beam me up’ and refers to my angel babies, and also to missing Mum and Dad.
I was talking with someone on a FB group page and they commented that you can’t journal the hard stuff because others might read it. It means you can’t share the page, so others don’t get to be inspired by your art.
I disagree; I’ve always journaled the good, bad and ugly in my scrapbooks and art journals. As an ex scrapbooking teacher, I’ve always shared my art in person and online.
Sometimes I write it all out so it’s legible and figure, if I share the hard or ugly stuff, I might help others get through and be able to tell their stories. We can all help create safe places for others to share their experiences, especially around addiction, mental health and abuse / domestic violence. I’ve never felt my life has to look perfect in order to share online.
But, even for me, there are things I don’t want the world reading about. Sometimes it is just too raw, other times it’s because it would compromise another person in some way. Often it’s about my food addiction, addictive personality, Tony’s health or my relationship with others who support me (or have similar issues) that I’m wanting to talk about.
When I want to record things but don’t want it to be legible, I use “scribble writing” so I get it all out of my head, but no one can read it. I usually start in the middle of the pages then work up and down, so the lines aren’t consecutive, and make sure the writing is loopy and overlaps. If’ you’re a scrapbooker or art journaler I’d encouarge you to record it all, it’s very healing.
For the record, this page is about some of the head struggles I’ve had this week, more than 2 years post weight loss surgery, what I’m doing about it, and the support I get from people.
I am remembering hurts that are long-buried – and, oddly enough, as I pour out the words it’s generally not that painful. I thought there’d be endless tears, but there’s not; I am a bit obsessive about the journalling though.
As promised, this is very warts and all – two of these pages talk about the point where sex became a chore, and the start of my affair with Tony (who I’ve now been with for 26 years, so…), the pain of seeing everyone else have a baby and the years I spent on a fertility drug.
The process of remembering, recording, covering up and moving on is very healing. I continue to visit the cemetery a lot in my lunch breaks, and sit near the memorial stone to lost babies. So much healing…
I decided yesterday I’d do a journal about my angel babies, and pour out all the feelings onto paper. I knew once I started I would be a bit teary and obsessive – and warned Tony. Turns out I am obsessive but not teary. But my god am I dredging up old memories and hurts, and dealing with them.
Here’s an example of something I had tucked away but never let go of … Relatively early in our infertility journey my then-husband started showing the first signs of depression. My Mother-in-law, who I had a mixed relationship with, said “If you’d just have a baby, he’d feel better”. Well, f*ck me, why hadn’t I thought of that?
I’m being consistent about how the pages look because that makes me happy, and ensuring the bulk of the writing is unreadable because it’s so personal – but also contains other people’s personal information. Infertility isn’t a journey you take on your own, and impacts on all aspects of your life. I’ll be writing about love, sex, affairs, needles, medicine, deaths, depression, family, friends, betrayals … this is a ‘warts and all’ journey. I’m not sure it will end up being in chronological order because I suspect old memories will come back as I write. Thanks for being part of this healing journey with me.
Sometimes you have to open up old wounds if they’ve never really healed. It’s hard and it hurts but, ultimately, it’s the only way to heal and move on. I had a message from my best friend of 50+ years last night, Sandra, talking about my infertility and some of the stuff that happened. I won’t share our conversation, or what prompted it, but that kind of honesty is gold and I’d expect nothing less from her. She has my back, and always has had.
I’m starting to journal out my deepest thoughts about my miscarriages and all the things that went along with being infertile when everyone around me was having babies; the impact on my marriage, the people I loved and who loved me. Some of this is really shitty so I have written on the canvas in such a way that it’s unreadable – but my heart and soul know what’s written there when I look at it. As is often the case, the images might not mean a lot to other people, but each one has meaning for me.
These wounds are deep (deeper than I have ever before acknowledged, even to myself). It’s going to take more than one or two journal pages and paintings to work through it, but I feel like I’m finally on the journey. Thank you for being part of it by listening.
Every year, as Mum’s birthday on June 30 approaches, I sleep badly and have vivid dreams. Mum died in 2012; we let her go with love in our hearts, knowing she was very ready to die. Yet my brain persists in this hyper-awareness every year. As in previous years, working in my art journal helps. Art really does have the power to heal people.
This photo was taken in 2011, her last Christmas, with her grandson Rowan. I have no idea now what they were talking about, but I can remember it being quite animated! I have put a heart over her face because sometimes I can’t bring her face to my mind, which is such a scary feeling. Mum may be gone, but love remains. The good memories are wrapped firmly round me heart.
I’m right back on track with my CMP art journaling and it feels great. Now to get some crafting time in, because that’s part of me being truly well again. I’m not physically 100% yet but I’m getting there – and tending to my mental health is part of the healing process. If I’m not doing art and craft, there’s no way I am totally well…
This page screamed out for glitter, but I don’t use the mucky stuff. What I do have tucked away is some Pipe Dreamink Opals embossing powder – perfect!