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Drawing 21: On Point 9/5/16
The Patient thinks about torture. She always has. Why? She feels humiliated when she thinks this way. The Patient feels sad after she fantasizes. The Patient wonders if the painful attention she received from Doctors and Nurses is at the heart of the images she employs and reluctantly returns to for gratification.
Drawing 22: Caregiving Surround 9/25/16
My caregiving surround was as dangerous as a knife fight. I was defenseless against my Father's sharp tongue and piercing gaze. Daddy didn't fight fair. Being "tossed into the air" by cruelty was bad enough. But being forced to approach and apologize was an excruciating fall. I was wounded on the upswing and then annihilated by the descent.
Who lets a Man slice his way through a little girl? A Woman who was attracted to and then attached to a Man who used sex as a weapon. A Mother who would trade her Daughter's safety and self esteem for her own satisfaction.
Well, I too have sharp words at my disposal. Now. The Father and Mother may have rigged the fight, but I am the last one standing. I win. So there.
The Patient had a feeling of vivid perception of her surroundings and herself as she summarized Drawing 22.
Drawing 23: Brought To Light 10/9/16
The Patient has recently experienced a lessening of some of her dissociative symptoms. She can feel the right side of her face more often. Her sense of her own presence in the world is more vivid.
The drawing shows the Patient unearthed from a pit. The pit is The Patient's own mind. Old bandages on The Patient's face have been peeled back to reveal new pink skin. The Doctor, depicted in his office, stands in warm light. He has guided The Patient through a persistent and delicate excavation of her memories and learned behavior.
The symbolic language of The Patient's artwork shows that the influence of the past is diminishing. The Childhood Bedroom is barely visible in the lower right corner. The Operating Room Light is broken. The usually bare Tree has tiny new leaves and a core of light.
Drawing 24: Violated. 10/16/16
"There are many more layers to innocence than one might ever imagine, and we are unaware of them until each barrier is breached." Hester by Paula Reed
The Patient can finally allow herself to apprehend and retain the knowledge that she was never allowed to feel innocent or safe.
She tells the Doctor, "I can remember and narrate the facts of my childhood. But the feelings connected to the facts still make me want to go to sleep."
The Doctor asks for specific feelings. "I feel angry. I feel cheated." The Nurse and the Father pulled me into their adult worlds. I lost the usual illusions of childhood prematurely. Too early.
Articulation in session and artistic expression do not assuage the sense of betrayal and violation. No amount of understanding will make me innocent again. In fact, letting myself speak and draw forces me to experience another and another loss.
The Father didn't fuck me, but no less harm was done. What The Nurse washed out was not shit, it was myself.
Drawing 25: Rest Repair Revive 10/31/16
The Patient was injured. She was not afforded psychological intervention. The injury, depicted as an impacted dark bruise, was covered over. But not without grave consequences. The injury, not visible to others, festered. It distorted The Patient's thought patterns, her connections to others and to reality. All of her life became a roiling grey confusion. The Patient forgot who she was meant to be. The Patient had to sleep even when she was awake.
Then The Doctor helped The Patient to acknowledge the injury. To examine it with words. To expose it to discussion. Gradually the injury began to heal. Its symptoms began to withdraw from every part of The Patient's body and mind. Grey thinking transformed into yellow and blue understanding. Sleep gave way to reparative rest.
The Patient began to remember her real self. Her mind made its way out of the past. The Patient felt as if she had been repaired. What had meant the most to her, her artwork, survived to be carried forward into the present moment. Her artwork began to speak for her again. Her artwork became part of the therapeutic discussion.
With The Doctor, with words and with pencil, The Patient has been revived.
Drawing 26: Witness 11/11/16
The drawing is bathed in yellow light. The light is not the warm light of sunshine. Rather, the light is the cold bright light of the Operating Room. The cold light permeates all of The Patient's past: The Father, The Mother, The Nurse, The Doctor. The cold light reaches into The Patient's school room, her nursery, her home. The cold light surrounds implements of humiliation, threat and torture. The cold light distorts time.
The Patient has told The Doctor her complete story. The Doctor has listened. All that The Patient has said or drawn has filtered through The Doctor's heart. The Doctor is The Patient's witness.
The Doctor is the first person to really see The Patient. Now he stands between The Patient and the specters from her past. The Doctor's presence allows The Patient to rest. From that repose The Patient sends a signal to The Doctor, there is still a glimmer of life in her mind.
Drawing 27: The Art Of Refection 12/01/16.
"Remembrance and reflection how allied! What thin partitions Sense from Thought divide!" Alexander Pope
In the Past the sense(station) of remembering had been too painful for The Patient, demanding dissociation.
In the Now, The Patient can stay present while she remembers everything. She can also feel.
In the Now, raw feeling or sense(station) has been tempered by thought and explanation. The Patient can tolerate talking with The Doctor. She can remember and reflect. She can feel, think and speak. She can draw her story.
In the Now The Patient is living without dissociating.
Drawing 28: In The Depths Of Dissociation 12/13/16
Now, for The Patient, days and nights and years of dissociation have ended. Now The Patient can feel her face and hands every day. She is inside Time. Feeling "associated" is unexpected. Astonishing.
In session The Doctor hears The Patient use the words happy, relief, satisfaction. The Patient tries to describe the contrast between before and now. Words fail to paint what was inside her mind. Inside her eyes for so long.
Finally, The Patient reaches for pencil and paper. She draws what only she could see. The pencil says, "Look." "This is what dissociation was like: I was hurt. I was drowning. I was almost dead." "Please look."
I was... Past tense. So far.
Drawing 29: Cracked 1971. 1/7/17
Cracked. Cracked as in broken. Cracked as in "cracked up". Cracked as in sundered. Broken brain. Cracked up thinking. Sundered as in separated from reality. Separated from her.
A crack. A crack in a mind. An entry point. Who fills the crack? Who enters within? Who else other than The Queen Of My Dissociation. There She is. Front and center. Right there inside the crack in my mind. She is clothed in a part of my story. Powerful. Triumphant. Beckoning.
A drawing. Made from paper. Graphite. Pen and ink. Marker. Color pencils. Things. Things with no intrinsic power. Objects. A drawing. Not there. Then made. A mere ephemeral object. But much more than that.
A drawing made by a person. One particular person. A person with a mind. A person with drawings inside her mind. Drawings inside a broken mind. My mind. A mind trying, for a very long time, to resist The Queen.
I introduce The Doctor to The Queen Of My Dissociation. "Look who is inside my mind", says The Patient. "I need treatment", says The Patient. "What happened to me?", The Patient asks The Doctor. The Doctor answers again...
Drawing 30: Field Notes 1/27/17
A Field Notebook. A Family Story. Old snapshots and notes. Collected. Saved. A section removed. Redacted. Hidden.
This is a story that could not be true. This could not be what my Family was like. This could not be what my Father was like. This could not be what My Life was like in The House, in the Hospital, at School. This Is a Story that cannot be.
So we lied. We lied to everyone. We lied to each other. We lied to ourselves. I lied. I lied to The Father and The Mother. I lied to Doctors and Teachers. I lied to my own mind. I lied to survive.
Everyone believed the Cover Story. The top page of the Notebook. The Lie. Nice 1950s suburban Family living on a Lane in a little House with a flowery drive and a big backyard. Hardworking Funny Father. Devoted Yet Sexy Mother. Happy Healthy Little Girl.
All true if you learn to automatically cut, censor, revise, forget.
When I think of the past the Truth feels slippery. It slides into Dissociation and Symptoms. The Truth vanishes moment to moment in Session with The Doctor, as I speak, or soon after.
I am learning to Focus. Focusing is not natural. It takes actual effort. I get tired. The lies are still too close at hand. They are more familiar than the truth. The truth hurts.