Tonight I realized that I am beginning the long journey back to being an artist. A lot has happened since I started this blog a number of years ago. A patient tried to kill me in the psychiatric hospital I was working in, which led me to a lengthy decline into a period of depression that eventually cost me my position. After being on leave, I was allowed to return to work at another site, and eventually was given a position as a therapist. But I had stopped making art altogether, and only in the past few months have I been able to draw in the presence of God again. I still cannot create the kinds of images like I used to, but the small sketchy paintings I am able to create with watercolor seem to speak to people. So I am learning to accept a number of things:
1.) I am only afraid of the things I keep a secret. I was afraid to tell people that I had lost my job, afraid to tell people that I struggled with depression and trauma, and afraid to say that I was now intensely fearful of being hurt again. But the good thing is, that I am learning to say and paint these things… and I have for the most part (apart from a few notable exceptions) been accepted and loved in spite of these fears.
2.) I am learning to accept that I cannot be who I thought I was … and I really was not who I thought I was anyway. I thought I could handle everything: violence, intense emotional tsunamis, threats, screaming, and seeing bloody people who had hurt themselves. I found that I could not, and that the prolonged exposure to these things was eating away at my soul. I was not strong in the sense that nothing bothered me. I am learning that strength is actually acknowledging, and being knowledgeable of, my weaknesses – because I can step to the side of those pits I used to fall into again and again. I am not taking as many pitfalls by realizing I can’t do anything.
3.) I can be an artist in many ways, even the small ways. I am learning that these little paintings, these sketches painted with colored teardrops, are able to move hearts like my large paintings formerly did. This I take as an unexpected form of grace – a true blessing.
I have fallen apart, but what God is making from these shards of my former self is something I am grateful for so many days. I hurt a lot yet, but I am becoming.
I had gotten an email that upset me, and I couldn’t get it off my mind.Â All the while I was working, the thoughts nagged at me.Â I tried to give it to God, but still it was there.Â I was painting a woman in Qing-dynasty robes (with a jacquard-ribboned collar which I was very happy with) whose hands were opened to release a butterfly into the air.Â I wanted that to be like my spirit, releasing the pain in my heart back to God.Â I want to accept that my friend disagrees with me, and know that I have to let her disagree without engaging her in debate.Â She is too passionate about how she feels to reconcile right now.Â
The thing is, I believe that reconciliation is more powerful than being right.
Sometimes, the best way to stand up for what you believe is to commit yourself to be friends with people you disagree with.Â
I am trying to live this out.
But God, it is so incredibly hard at times.Â