Honesty and Art therapy

March 10, 2009


I went to art therapy tonight. I can’t believe the emotion deep, deep down inside of me. The therapy was more revealing than I ever expected. I could have put my head down on the table and sobbed the rest of the night.

More tomorrow . . .

March 11, 2009

HONESTY . . . is always risk taking. I can let you see into me exposing everything I am and think OR I can pretend. I am not a pretender.

What is happening inside me? Am I strong or am I weak? What happened to all that bravado about winning a race and winning well? I am working awfully hard at staying right on top on my emotions. I am strong, no one will know the secret questions and fears I have. Where is this uncertainty coming from? The harder I try to control myself the more shocking the pool of emotions are.

I wanted to go to last night’s cancer support group. My first experience last month was very interesting and a bit daunting. If anything, the group last month talked as if there was no getting off this cancer merry-go-round. That was not what I wanted to hear.

But the social worker assured me that this next session was an art therapy session. When she hosted one last year it was very interesting in what the group drew and what their drawing symbolized. Needless to say, having somewhat of an art background, I was intrigued.

The therapist defined what art therapy is and how it is used. We can take home the artwork and look at it as a remembrance of what our picture symbolized, and we can add to our definition if we saw more in the picture later. I was ready to start.

First, she had us relax and loosen up our arms, take deep breaths. I felt like I was pushing the day away to focus on what I was about to do. Then she said to take a color (crayon, oil pastel or chalk pastel) and scribble. Okay. I took an orange crayon and drew squiggly lines downward and then circles over the lines. I chose orange because I feel as if my insides are on fire, so unsettled and unsure.

Next, she had us look at the drawing of squiggles and lines and find a picture in it and define the picture by coloring it in or highlighting with other colors. I found my picture immediately. In the middle of lines and circles was me, balled up in a fetal position. I colored it in with orange and then around me I colored red, like fire. Outside of that I used blue and green to surround me, kind of envelop me. I knew when I was done with my picture and I knew what it represented. It did not represent strength.

The therapist asked for volunteers to explain their drawings. After a few women shared their work, I decided to go ahead and hear myself verbally describe my picture.

I chose orange because of the constant adrenaline push I feel. When I was diagnosed with cancer, my adrenaline pushed me to survive. When I received the “cancer free” report, the adrenaline pushes me to “live.” The adrenaline does not allow me to have quiet time; I am “GO.”

art therapy

I am in my picture curled up, don’t touch me, I am tired of being touched. I isolate myself. In this position, all balled up, I am safe – I guess you could say, in control. The red around me represents heat. That is all I said, hot; the blue and green surrounding me are calming colors. I said, and to my surprise, I want rest. Rest. Please someone help me get off this adrenaline push!

I know what this adrenaline living is all about. It didn’t just start in April. However, it has never been so intense. I cannot allow myself quiet moments or I might think.

Monday I went to the eye doctor in the morning. Dale went with me because he had errands to run in town. When we got home I had all afternoon with nothing to do. I went right to work cleaning the house. I asked myself, what in the world am I doing? I answered, I have too much time on my hands and I cannot think about myself.

I am a race car driver. I get behind the wheel, buckle in. I grab the steering wheel white knuckling it, grit my teeth (literally) and push the accelerator all the way to the floor. I hug the wall, hug the turn, hug the wall, hug the turn. I race as fast as I can go. I raced in a car called “Survive” and I am racing in a car called “Live.”

I held my flood of tears back, I didn’t want to discourage the women in the support group. What an emotional mess I am in – and I call myself a Christian, one who depends on God for strength and one who should live in peace. What kind of a testimony am I? And here another woman draws a bright yellow bunny describing how cancer is a “gift.” “Gift”, I say to myself, and I just shake my head. How can I allow my emotions to surface, this surprisingly deep pool of emotions, when another woman is calling her cancer a gift? And then would I be the woman who spins this evening into negativism? I can’t do that. So I’ll hold back my tears.

Then I thought, where can I cry? I am weaker now emotionally after hearing “cancer free” than I was while in treatment. I am upside down. I have Dale and he is sensitive and holds me, he doesn’t try to fix me or the situation. I have my family here in Lakeside but are they used to seeing me strong? This strong role sucks right now. I can’t sob at the support group, at least I don’t think so, because there are newly diagnosed women looking for support and strength and I am certainly not that right now.

I am alone, in a fetal position; isolated, hot and I want rest.

The therapist led us through one more drawing. She had us visualize as she spoke. “In the water . . . diving down . . . darker . . . in a cave . . . finding an escape . . . seeing a dear friend . . . and the friend gives you a gift. What is the gift?”

Oh, there is no greater Friend. I just see His robe and He hands me a scroll.

I am to draw this gift. The therapist looked at me and said I needed a large piece of paper. I began to draw my scroll. What did the scrolls of yesteryear look like? I don’t think they used ribbons to tie it up, so no ribbon. I did a little shading here; now the words written on the scroll, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

I find myself absolutely spent after that exercise. And the tears are bubbling right under my skin. I could put my head down on this table and sob and sob. Why? I feel a loss of who I was; I feel a confusion of who I am now; I feel an uncertainty about my future. Why can’t I just take those two words, “cancer free”, and move on?


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