Sunday, September 20, 2009

I'm not convinced it's ART but...

Back in May, when I was told that the two surgeries I was expecting would need to be augmented by the big"H", it was something that I wasn't expecting and a whole herd of emotions were unleashed.
There were the ones that any sentient being could have predicted but also some long buried griefs that had more to do with the fact that I was feeling vulnerable and Marc was no longer here. Clearly I should have anticipated that one but, in any case, once I realised what was going on, I accepted it as a perfectly normal, albeit greatly delayed, part of the grieving process and gave myself permission to just be sad for a couple of days.

That was when I decided that perhaps I should make myself a journal of the emotional journey.
I'll admit to a momentary worry that I was being a trendoid.
Jumping on the bandwagon
Being self indulgent
and then I asked myself what was so wrong with a wee bit of self indulgence anyway?


A nice new sketchbook was purchased
and then it sort of sat there
looking at me
all white and blank and full of ... foreboding

Obviously it needed breaking in, so I covered the front with rich red paint and a voluptuous red rose.
My feeling was that this was going to be about my female self as opposed to my feminine self and I am SO not a pink, girlie girl but that lush deep fleshy pink/red was hugely symbolic of whatever was ahead.

I painted up the first dozen or so pages and over several nights, poured out all the angst and fear and frustration and grief. I allowed myself to feel the self-pity that is usually kept tightly under control.
For once I allowed myself the luxury of 'why me?' and you know what? the answer is, as it has always been ... well ... why not me ?
the words poured out much more easily than the images. There were false starts and rippings-out, but eventually I realised that it didn't matter because this was for me so I let the pages just be in whatever state they evolved

The journal was largely laid aside up until the night before I went to hospital.
I sat down after choir with a nice mug of chai and read through all that I had written, looked at the drawings and paintings, really, really looked at them, and then one by one fed them to the fire
and let them go

I can highly recommend it as a therapeutic practice


Vickie said...

Oh I hear you big time Susan.(from personal experience).this can be very therapeutic for many of life's wee obstacles..way too go girl glad it worked for you,cheers vickie

Vickie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
April said...

I'm so very glad you're back. :)

Lizzie said...

I was going to write something here, scrubbed it and am just sending HUGE cyber hugs.

Bernie said...

You know Susan when my husband died I was devastated but hid my feelings thinking it best for my 2 children (well they were 19 & 21) at the time but I thought I had to be strong, then 5 years later when my son died, well I too bought a special journal and wrote my way through my grief. I wasn't strong enough to burn it, it's still among all my other journals I have kept. It was very theraputic to do this but to this day I have never read it....I think you have done the right thing here, my journals are so personal and I wouldn't want to share them with anyone...I have decided after reading your post that "that" one is going into the fireplace tomorrow. I will not read it as I don't want to feel that pain again but it is time to let it all go. Thank you my friend, if you can do the right thing then so can I.
Thank you for sharing, you have helped me to let it all go... so glad your feeling better....:-) Hugs

Anonymous said...


(And if you don't need to read it again, just gesso over the pages. But I don't really recommend that - better to just put the book out of sight and read it in a few years time...)

Anonymous said...

Letting go, what a great idea. May do that myself.
Thank you for that insight.

Alice said...

It may not be ART but I'm sure it helped you far more than any piece of art ever could.

Here's to a new beginning, Susan......stronger and freer emotionally, spiritually and physically!

Bernie said...

Hi Susan, well today was an emotional but a wonderful day for me. I have kept a journal since I have been 12 years old so needless to say I have many boxes of them. They are my past life, priceless to me but no one else.
Anyway today I went looking for that personal journal of grief. I didn't want to read it but I did. Oh how I had expressed my grief, it was raw but so real. I cried many tears but realize that part of my life had passed and I had moved on from it. Oh yes Susan, even though I relived it I also felt it was the best "real" writing I have ever expressed.....I lit a fire in my fire place and slowly tore each page away and watched as they went up in smoke. It was a time to let go, really move on and be honest with myself. I cried with every flame but I'm not sure if you will understand how I felt when it was over, all the pages burned I felt such relief and even lighter in weight. It was wonderful to let it all go. I have no words left to express how I was the right thing to do and I am so happy they have gone up in smoke through the chimney....almost felt like a new pope had been chosen...LOL I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, these words were meant for me and no one else. They would serve no purpose whatsoever to anyone when I am gone. I am almost ashamed of how pathetic of a pity party I son and husband deserve so much better than that. They gave me love and would want me to only remember that and share that love with whoever came into my life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart my dear friend....I think it may be time to revisit other journals and let go of the ones that may hurt others. My words were never ever meant to hurt anyone but I can see now that there is a chance where others would feel the pain they never meant to cause while dealing with their own grief.
I love you for showing me a way of letting go, making my heart lighter and moving forward in love and gratitude.
You are an angel, I love you....stay well....:-) Hugs

Rose Red said...

This is a great way of getting it all out, and of letting go. Thank you for sharing, and hope you are recovering from the surgery well.

Caffeine Girl said...

Just discovered your blog, and want to let you know how much I am moved by your spirit. You have been through so much and have allowed it to become a true journey.

I have kept a journal since I was 12, and am a true believer. I've never been able to let go the way you did and I admire the way you burned it and emerged anew.

Alwen said...

That's for sure - the fire, I mean.

When our little dog from 10 years ago got hit by a car, I was so consumed by guilt. I used to go out and make a fire and feed it papers and let the guilt burn up as the little gold sparks ate the paper up into ash.

Sheepish Annie said...

I think that people don't really take the time to accept the loss and the feelings that come along with it. Your journal sounds like an excellent tool for getting all that emotion to the surface, embracing it and then letting it go.