a visual history of my life, from the art therapy activity in my PTSD workbook.
i have to say i enjoyed doing this drawing and seeing my life in this type of a visual way was really eye-opening. i now see exactly how far i have come...where my road begins, where it continues.
birth. my road is straight, it is clear, it is beautifully paved. my early childhood, while not perfect, is relatively good.
age six (approximately). the road ends...there is a deep crevice. i fall into a torrent of raging waters. i am spiraling out of control, in danger, and very much terrified and alone. here is where the abuse begins. for about two years i am lost in this river of pain and confusion.
age eight. somehow i get out of the river and make it back to the road. my road has become treacherous. a dirt road, full of so many potholes and rocks there is no way to safely travel it. i am still alone, at the edge of a precipice. i navigate the road successfully but do not escape whole...i am frequently bruised and beaten, i trip, i break my bones on the rocks, i twist my ankles in the potholes.
age eleven. my family moves, away from my uncle, away from the all-too frequent visits, and my road turns. my road is still rocky but it is slowly getting better. i make friends, good friends, true friends, who love me unconditionally. i am still being bruised and broken as i travel. a suicide attempt, broken family relationships, near desperation in crying out for help i am not receiving because no one understands my cries.
age thirteen. my parents and my family become aware of the abuse. i now have a guardrail on one side of the precipice. they get me help. they support me in beginning my recovery. my anger starts to diminish, my road starts to get better. after a few years i move from a dirt road to a paved road. it is still bumpy, still had holes and rocks, but my bruising becomes less and i stop breaking my bones.
age sixteen. i move out of state. while a huge change in my road it turns out to be a positive one. my road continues to improve. i make more good friends, friends who will influence me in ways i never thought possible--for the better. my art really takes off and i begin using it as therapy. i enjoy school, i get a good job, life is looking up.
age eighteen. i have a wonderful counselor and attend SOLE. i am the happiest i have ever been. i actually begin to love my life. while not perfect, while i still struggle, i am doing better overall. my relationships with my family, especially my parents, improves. my self-esteem improves some. i am on the uphill to recovery and happiness. i leave home to attend college.
age nineteen. all of the progress i made seems to slip away. i lose my focus on school and recovery, so i have time to play with a boyfriend who only drags me down. i finally break free of that relationship and things get better again. i meet hubby, who lifts me up. i had damaged myself so much since leaving home that i never quite reach my peak happiness again. the real world of bills, of family stresses, of school stresses, of recovery kept on the backburner catches up to me. with my relationship with hubby comes another guardrail--on the other side. he is aware of my past, loves me and supports me, and pushes me to be better.
age twenty. my road turns again. i get married. the road gets smoother. i am happy with hubby, in spite of the rocks and potholes i still have....physical illness, depression, money stresses...but i have him, and i am in love. a year and a half later, a flower blooms to make my road beautiful--our wonderful son is born.
age twenty two. my road starts to go downhill. my depression and PTSD are out of control, i am suicidal, i have nightmares, i am struggling. i still have my guardrails. i begin therapy again. i improve a bit but still keep going down hill. shortly after i turn twenty two i discover i am pregnant again--a difficult time but ends in the beauty of my perfect daughter. my road continues to go downhill rapidly. my ptsd and depression are out of control. i am in therapy again...but things get worse. i am still suicidal. i have good times but my bad times get worse and worse...i decide it's time to do something about the out of control descent i am on. i switch therapists. i start really working on myself, in spite of the difficulty, in spite of the constant nightmares and recurring flashbacks.
my road continues into a fog, a dark fog, a future i cannot see. i don't know if the road goes up, or if it continues to plummet. i don't know if it gets smoother or becomes more rocky.
but i do know that after i have completed this drawing, looked at it closely, and really thought about it...there is a tiny, really tiny, piece of me that is shocked. and kind of amazed, to be honest. i've survived this road? i'm still here, still alive? i have made it through the river, traveled the road to reach my husband, and my beautiful children? i really did that? i must be stronger than i think. everyone i know and care about, who really knows me, tells me that. i never believe them. all i can see are my weaknesses, my bad times, the horrible things i do to those i care about most, the times i want to end it all. so even though most of me still believes that, that i am worthless and weak, there is that teeny tiny piece that says, "what if you're wrong about yourself...what if you really are strong?"
two drawings ago i didn't know how i was going to do another self-portrait and have it be different...but after completing this third one i think it just might have altered a bit.
this is me, i am (self-portrait 1)
this is my space