Expressive Arts Carnival: Self Portrait

Note: The images in this entry could be triggering.

The activity for this months Expressive Arts Carnival was:

Through drawing, painting or any other visual means, create a self portrait. Please also include a couple of sentences saying what the process was like for you.

Over the years I have done a few self portraits – many of my Polyvore sets are forms of self portraits, although I’m rarely aware of it at the time.  So to approach an activity with the intent of creating a self portrait, was oddly intimidating.  It’s difficult to portray to the world how you see yourself, when you know that your self image is so twisted.  I can see myself as innocent, guilty, fat, thin, ugly, dirty, disgusting, etc all at once.

There is an added layer of confusion, when you see yourself as a reflection of those around you.  The most obvious example of this is when I was growing up, I was constantly comparing myself to the sister.  She always seemed to be able to garner the attention of the parents that I so desperately wanted.  I never seemed to be able to get it though, no matter how much I tried.

So, I entered into this exercise with a great deal of trepidation.  I had no idea what I was going to do, until I read back over a couple of blog entries, and spotted my comment about the sister and I both receiving identical dolls with different coloured outfits for Christmas.  Then it became fairly easy.  Purchasing identical dolls was as simple as going to The Warehouse (Target or Walmart equivalent).  But then came the task of creating the difference between the two dolls.  In many ways, what I ended up creating was the exact opposite of how we appeared to the outside world… the sister was “the bad one”, who always got into trouble; while I was “the good one”, who always appeared perfect.  But with the dolls, I created how we appeared in my mind…

Self Portrait

The front doll is the sister, and I’m in the background.  She’s looking straight at the camera, getting the attention she deserves; meanwhile, I’m  obscured, blurry, looking down, trying to be invisible.

You might be able to tell that I “altered” the doll representing myself.  This alteration, is a reflection of how I see myself – as damaged goods.

Eye

I was amazed that I was able to damage the doll, and fairly easily.  All of the toys I purchase, are left in their packaging, usually with the price still on.  I’m not allowed to open or touch them due to how I might contaminate them with my filth.  Yet, with these dolls, they were opened and one of them basically destroyed within a very short time.  It was cathartic, and slightly disturbing.  I now have a damaged doll… I’ve no idea what I’m going to do with it.

—————-
Now playing: P!nk – Family Portrait
via FoxyTunes

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68 thoughts on “Expressive Arts Carnival: Self Portrait

  1. I love these! How were you able to make your doll look less focused than your sister’s? Isn’t there a name for that in photography? (I’m not a photographer.) It adds to the feel of you being obscured.

    Have you ever done assemblage art? You could use the altered doll (or both) in an assemblage.

    • Hi Holly,

      Ok, remembering that I am a rank amateur photographer… The difference in focus is because of the Depth of Field (dof) that I had the camera set at. What this means –

      First photo:
      60mm Macro lens
      Exposure 1/80
      ISO 250
      Aperture f4.0 – this figure here is what determines the dof. The lower the number, the narrower the focal point. So f4.0 allowed me to have the full front doll in focus, and blur out most of the background doll.

      Second photo:
      60mm Macro lens
      Exposure 1/60
      ISO 640
      Aperture f2.8 – this is why the focus is almost solely on the dolls eye, with the rest of the face blurry and her body only recognisable as being a pink outfit. If I’d left the aperture up at f4.0, then her whole face would have been in focus, but I wanted to purposefully blur that out so the eye is what people saw.

      I’ve seen assemblage art, and to be honest, it sort of creeps me out – it sort of reminds me of Sid’s toys in Toy Story. Some of the art is incredibly clever, but I don’t think I have the artistic ability to do it well.

      Take care,
      CG

      • Ah yes, I can definitely see how a lot of assemblage art would come off as creepy. I love it (and I was just mentioning that in a post) but I don’t have what it takes to pull it off either.

        I noticed that in the 2nd picture too … the way the eye is the focal point. It would be a completely different picture then, if you’d chosen different settings. That’s fascinating for someone like me, who rarely ever takes a photo and, when she does, points and clicks. On my cell phone no less. Photography will never be my medium but I do love seeing others’ work.

        Self portrait wise, I think this is really unique and creative. And I understand what you mean about the self portrait being intimidating though. Practically anything with the word “self” is intimidating, it seems.

        • I agree, I love some of the really well done assemblage art, but some of it… woohoo!

          Remember that I’m a rank amateur. If you want to talk to people who know about photography, there are a few bloggers out there who know their stuff. I got into it a couple of years ago after taking a free community course, that was really badly run, but encouraged me to get out of the house in safe ways.

          “Self” – what self? what lens? what perspective? then or now? All scary questions, but I’m really glad I did this. I’m still not sure about submitting it to the carnival, in some ways this feels very scary to show others. I’m also so worried about triggering others, but that’s because I know the damage I did to the doll, and there are some other photos which were pretty scary. I’ve since hidden those ones.

          I liked your self portrait set on Polyvore 🙂

          Take care,
          CG

          • I know, slightly off topic, but if you want to know more about photography, http://www.nationalgeographic.com has good photo tips plus there are tonnes of books out there about photography. However some you need a degree in Physics to understand :p

            The likes of Kodak, Canon (world of EOS), Nikon digitutor etc probably have useful information too. Your local specialist camera store may run courses too. (not Walmart, Dick Smith Electronics etc)

            As long as you have daylight you can take some decent pictures with a cellphone camera.

            In saying all that, photography is more about having patience and being in the right place at the right time than having the best equipment.

            • There have been articles about how the smart phones are taking over – especially in the point and shoot area. They have so many apps for the smart phone cameras, it isn’t any wonder.

              In addition to the ones you list Ringonz, there’s heaps of online photography magazines and sites which do amazing tips, tricks and how-to information. PetaPixel is one of my favourites, but there’s heaps of them out there. PetaPixel is the site that showed my one of my geeky gift dreams – Pinhole cameras made from vintage hardback books 🙂

              Take care,
              CG

          • Thank you for the compliment, CG.

            I’m thinking of you right now and wanted to tell you that. And that I hope you’re going gently on yourself.

            • Thanks Holly… I’ve lots of words in my head, but none I can write down without that fear of exposing too much, or appearing too needy.

              So thank you for your thoughts and please take care of yourself,
              CG

          • “I’ve lots of words in my head, but none I can write down without that fear of exposing too much, or appearing too needy.”

            Oh boy can I relate. I’m a super cheesy dork so I’m going to share with you something (you’ve probably read before) that has meant a lot to me in vulnerable, painful moments:

            Wild Geese

            You do not have to be good.
            You do not have to walk on your knees
            for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
            You only have to let the soft animal of your body
            love what it loves.
            Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
            Meanwhile the world goes on.
            Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
            are moving across the landscapes,
            over the prairies and the deep trees,
            the mountains and the rivers.
            Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
            are heading home again.
            Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
            the world offers itself to your imagination,
            calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
            over and over announcing your place
            in the family of things.

            – Mary Oliver

            Please don’t feel like you need to respond. This is just me, getting the opportunity to share in ways that are healing for me too.

  2. Did you ever think of creating a care unit for the dolls you alter? The reason I ask that is because I suspect you probably weren’t taken in to a doctor or hospital after you’d been abused. Now that you can recreate that intangible part of your abuse, maybe you can also participate righting the wrongs you experienced.

    The images look like the thing you struggle most with, presently–not like a potential future for you in progressive doll destruction. And I think it’s okay to find a way to look at what happened to you. The next question is, though, do you want to give the damaged doll peace?

    I think your process is productive, CG. I really do. The pictures really show how uncharitably you were treated. You’ve made the intangible tangible.

    Hope your time away from work is helping.
    ~meredith~

    • Hi Meredith,

      I was often at the doctors as a child for ENT problems. So, while it’s a good caring idea, I’m not sure if I can do it. I’m also not sure it’s possible, as the doll is now pretty mutilated.

      It’s a difficult question about wanting to give the doll peace; because, to be honest I want to destroy both dolls. Preferably burn them in an oil drum, like the one we had in the backyard when I was growing up.

      At the moment, both dolls are in separate plastic shopping bags on a dining room chair. I might take them into Allison next week and show them to her.

      Thanks, the week hasn’t gone as well as I hoped, and I’m still a mess. Will see what happens next week.

      Take care,
      CG

  3. It amazes me how much survivors think alike. The dolls I made for myself or that I purchased for myself sit on the shelf without being touched. I fear getting my filth on them.

    I asked my therapist if he disinfects the sofa after I leave to get me off it so the next person can sit down. He asked me if I’m really that toxic. I said yes, I fear I might be.

    I say you keep the doll. Who knows what will come of it later. I say keep it.

    • I try to touch the toys sometimes, and I brought one specifically for holding, but I just can’t do it. They’re dusted and sometimes moved if I want to take a photo of them, but that’s it.

      I won’t sit on, or touch anything that looks too new… but I feel gross if I have to touch anything too dirty and old.

      I’m sorry you struggle with this too Austin, but it’s good to know I’m not the only one.

      Take care,
      CG

  4. OMG CG this had to be an incredible experience and process for you! This did trigger me and scare me at the same time. I don’t know if I would have been able to do something this big but I see this as being huge progress. It really did trigger me when I saw the face of the damaged doll. It’s like being able to “show” the world what happened to you instead of always trying to explain it in words. I get so frustrated with that because to me there aren’t enough words to explain it…never will be…and certainly not enough painful words in the dictionary to give anyone an accurate picture of how I feel/felt. I never seem to be able to get my feelings all out with words…just doesn’t work. But this is huge to me and I can only “respect” the process you went thru when you did this. WOW is all I can really say!

    • Hi Nansie,

      I’m sorry you were triggered. I try to keep this blog safe, and if there is anything that is obviously graphic, I always put a note at the top of the entry to act as a warning.

      I also struggle with words. I’m not particularly good at communicating, especially when it comes to things related to healing. That’s part of the reason that I use creative expression to help understand the emotions. I still don’t always understand it all, but it’s another way to try.

      Take care,
      CG

      • Actually CG…I am curious about the trigger within? So that is not a problem…it’s ok. I agree with your ability to express yourself in other ways…I have not learned these yet but am hoping at some point I’ll find a way that feels safe and good for me. The word thing leaves me so frustrated! Take care!

        • These images were two of the least triggering ones in a set of about 20 that I took. Because I sort of lost perspective about how bad they looked to others, I put the warning on the post, just in case.

          One of the simplest things you can do to start expressing yourself creatively, is to go to an art supply shop, or department store, and browse the shelves. See what appeals – crayons, pencils, paint, etc. Bring some home, and then allow yourself the space and freedom to experiment.

          You can also try many of the free online creative expression tools – often childrens sites have them.

          The main thing is to allow yourself the space and freedom. That’s the most difficult thing.

          Take care,
          CG

  5. This is really great work CG! Amazing.
    I love what you did with the focus and I love the “Eye” photo. I’m glad that you did this exercise despite feeling trepidation about it. I think you should keep the doll. I don’t know why but my gut reaction was to say, keep the doll.

    After remembering some abuse a few months ago, I had an intense compulsion to buy a doll. It had to be a specific looking doll and I searched the internet until I found one on Ebay. It ended up being a vintage Hasbro doll from the 80’s. I don’t know why I needed to buy her and I haven’t looked at her since. In fact I find her scary for some reason and I put her in the cabinet under my bathroom sink. But, I feel the need to keep her so I will.

    I’m really glad you did this. 🙂

    • Hi tai,

      Thanks. I’m not sure about keeping the doll. I don’t know if that’s because it reminds me of how damaged I feel; or because if I destroy the doll, it will be a release from that pain. Because I sunk a lot of anger into that doll, maybe destroying it will release it? I’m not sure. I was talking with a friend about the doll this morning, and my voice changed each time it was mentioned… you could hear the scorn, hatred and impatience.

      I tried to find the red dog that I had as a child once. I couldn’t find it, and I’m sort of glad that I couldn’t. Did getting the doll cause any sort of reaction? As long as she’s not causing a negative reaction, then keeping her is a good idea – sort of like your childhood photos, you never know when you might need them later.

      Take care,
      CG

      • Actually I feel bad now that I said I thought you should keep the doll. I think I was thinking about it representing you and I didn’t want you to feel like you needed to throw away or destroy *yourself*. So of course you should exactly what you fel you need to do. I was just worried about you feeling any hatred about yourself. 🙂 Sorry if I said the wrong thing.

        • Hi tai,

          Please dont feel bad. There’s a very real possibility that if I destroy the doll, it will be destroying a representation of myself. I don’t know if that is a good or a bad thing. I know there is still a need to destroy the doll, but I need to sort through my reactions before I act.

          My reaction to people here saying I should keep the doll has been quite telling… Almost a mystification about why anyone would want to keep such a damaged, disgusting doll.

          I’ll take it along to Allison on Tuesday and see what we come up with as potential solutions.

          Take care and thank you for giving me a different perspective 🙂
          CG

          • hi, CG;

            The reason I asked you about a care unit is because the doll is so wounded. I understand that it’s photography, and that you are doing a cathartic process to resolve old stuff. I wonder, though, how resolution will come into the pictures for you, at some point.

            Maybe now is not the time to ask a question like that, yet you’ve mentioned how tight things are for you, lately. So, is there a connection?

            Even if you cannot restore the doll, or do not want to, you can at least give your dolls peace before they done with, altogether.

            I buried two of my dolls–without ceremony, and during a pouring rain. I put them in a shoe box, wrapped in pretty fabric that was cut from a purple suede jacket. The jacket was given to me by Mum, and although it was beautiful, nothing about it worked in my mind until I felt how soft the fabric was. That was the moment I knew that what to do with my dolls, for they were naked and all. I wrapped them individually, then I put them in a shoe box and buried them. They had not survived, in my mind… just as those parts of me had not ‘gone on’ in life.

            But that was my process, and each of us has our own way of finding the way through.

            I’m sorry for this kind of awful that you’ve shown. I’m glad you live, CG. Your photography is very moving, and it wasn’t right for me to ask about the dolls. It wasn’t my place.

            Walk lightly,

            ~meredith~

            • Hi Meredith,

              I appreciated people questioning me about what I was going to do with the dolls, it gave me something to think about.

              I’m glad you found a way forward that worked for you…

              Please take care,
              CG

  6. Very nicely done, CG.

    I’m sorry that you feel as though you need to leave new dolls in their packaging for fear of contaminating them. I do understand, though. I feel that way about people sometimes, and I tend to isolate myself as a result.

    Dolls have always been a little creepy to me. I don’t know why, and I wonder sometimes if that is something I should explore at some point.

    The “Eye” photo is both sad, and eerie. Sad that your doll is looking down wishing to be invisible, and eerie because the eye appears to be staring down in a trancelike state.

    I think you should keep the doll. It is your art.
    This may help you work through something….maybe sometime in the future. You never know.

    • Hi Mareeya,

      Thank you 🙂

      I also have social anxieties, so I know what you mean about isolating yourself. It’s so easy to do, and such a difficult way of life to break free of.

      I often find dolls creepy too… for me, it’s because of the fake vacantness of them. That fakeness seems to remind me of the “happy” front that so many people put up. Someone told me that the first photo is also a metaphor for a dissociative front, where we present to the world as happy, and hide the damage we’re experiencing. That’s why the trancelike state of the second photo was quite important to me.

      I’m not sure about the long term outcome of the doll, but she’s on the dining chair for now.

      Take care,
      CG

    • Hi Ivory,

      I’m sorry you experienced this with two of your sisters. It’s an awful experience.

      I hope you’re going to submit something for the carnival this month, it’s always interesting to see how people interpret the same subject.

      Take care,
      CG

  7. This is amazing artwork CG, every time I look at your art I am always blown away with how expressive it is.

    I actually scrolled down to view the photos before I read your post. I wanted to see what my reaction was without your explanation and then read what you had to say. Just to clarify, I really did want to know that to and you explanation and the way you explained the process was really eye opening.

    I found looking at the photos really confronting, it made me really reflect on how I view myself and how I feel about the pressure to conform. For me the doll at the front was how I feel the world and particularly my family want me to be – perfect and normal. The doll in the background was how I felt inside – hurt, broken, dirty etc. Your photo reflected to me the need to hide that all away and push it in the background.

    Reading your post I just wanted to cry, for you, for me and for all these people out there who are hurt by their families. Please don’t feel bad for my reaction – it is not a negative reaction for me, it felt really healing. Thank you so much for sharing.

    I hope what ever you decide to do with the dolls that it is something that you find healing.

    Take gentle care of you

    From Kylie

    PS
    I really hope you are proud of this because I think you should be – it is truly exceptional work and it sounds like you really faced how you felt to create it.

    • I just re-read my comment and I hope it wasn’t to presumptuous of me to explain how I first viewed the photos before I read your post. I don’t mean to take away from what you were expressing and I really didn’t want to offend.

      • You weren’t presumptuous at all Kylie, thank you for sharing how you looked at the photos.

        People often communicate in different ways through their art and their words, so it makes sense to look at the two separately.

        Take care,
        CG

    • Hi Kylie,

      I can understand the need to look at the photos before reading the explanation, I often do that myself with various art pieces. It helps me to connect with the piece, and the the explanation adds to the picture and my understanding of it.

      I can see why you would see the perfect face people want us to present to the world, and the hidden damage we feel. That was another motivation for taking the picture – to show the dissociative coping, show how others see us, or how they want us to be. My mother has, on a couple of occasions asked “when is all of this going to be over”, when referring to my poor mental health. It can feel like we’re letting them down by not bring well, but all we can do is our best.

      I’m sorry that you so easily saw yourself within the photos. There’s always a mixed reaction when someone identifies with a painful post or piece of art that I do… I’m glad someone else “gets it”, but sorry they also feel that pain.

      Yes, families can create all sorts of pressures and expectations. It can be difficult not to lose yourself in it all.

      I’m glad your reaction was one of healing, really glad.

      Thank you and take care,
      CG

  8. These are powerful photos, CG. Art can be very healing and really help with processing. Thank you for sharing them.

    I relate to the “damaged goods” way of seeing yourself. I hope that, someday, you can see yourself for the beautiful person you are…instead of as “damaged goods”.

  9. dear castor, i can relate to the image you created and i think you did an amazing job here! what a powerful and meaningful image. i feel like i really have had so much time feeling like damaged goods. like i’m contaminated or ruined. that i’m untouchable and unlovable. and i’ve had major problems comparing myself to others and seeing them as ideal and myself as ruined. so when i saw your dolls, i felt like it was a perfect illustration of this feeling. it is beautiful too i think, it expresses these feelings so well. expresses that pain.

    i’m so sorry you’ve been so deeply hurt and felt so damaged in your life, and i’m sorry that you’re having a rough week. i hope things get better for you soon.

    thank you for sharing this. i wasn’t going to participate in this month’s carnival, because the thought of creating a self-portrait i found disturbing for a few reasons. but you inspired me.

    i love what you made and i think it’s great. i am honored to be in contact with you through the blogosphere and hope that you are feeling well today~ sending positive thoughts your way~~~

    • katie, thank you for your kind words… I needed that kindness today 🙂

      It’s incredible how the messages from the past, build a picture in our heads of what we are. It doesn’t matter how wrong those messages and associated pictures are; if they’re not challenged, or healed, they persist.

      I’m glad you decided to participate in the carnival this month. I had a very quick look at your post, but will come back to it after work.

      Sending positive thoughts your way,
      CG

  10. I just wanted to say that you don’t have to worry about appearing needy CG. I hope that you’d let us give you whatever support and comfort you need. I’m not talking about the fear of exposing yourself because that has to a consideration to keep things calm inside.

    • Hi tai,

      Thank you. Just knowing that people would take time out of their day to say they’re thinking of me amazes me. I suppose I’m just feeling a bit vulnerable. I’ll be ok, thank you for asking and assuring me that it’s ok 🙂

      Take care,
      CG

  11. Hi CG, sorry I’m a bit late coming to this post.

    WOW… amazing, and really expressive, scary and beautiful all at the same time.

    I like Meredith’s idea of the care unit, though I understand why this isn’t doable. May be you could burn the damaged doll (in the oil drum, I mean) and keep the good one as representative of the phoenix that I know you are. 🙂

    I know it’s been a tough week for you. Please take gentle care. ((hugs))

    • Hi Kerro 🙂

      What, you mean you don’t wait with bated breath for my random ramblings? I’m shocked!!

      It’s odd, but I have absolutely no feelings towards the undamaged doll. I see it as a blank slate, vacant and malleable. All my emotion is aimed at the need to destroy the damaged doll.

      Because I’m still making my way out of dissociative fog land, I didn’t take the dolls to Allison last week, but I will this week. She’s such a gentle soul, I don’t know what she’ll think of my need to destroy the doll. I won’t go into the violent imagery I have about destroying that doll… it’s not pleasant. I know it’s huge fodder for any mental health professional…

      Take care of yourself 🙂
      CG

      • Hi CG!
        I just hope I can reassure you on this therapist thing. Don’t ever worry about how bad whatever you tell them is! I have done some research and we are the kind of clients that makes their jobs worthwhile. Infact I would say that we are the reasons they went into this field. To help people that really need it and make a difference in our lives. The only way to go at this is to let it all hang out…haha. True tho. Someone told me not too long ago that we are a therapist’s dream client…what they have studied for all those years and where they can use their skills toward a big difference for someone. You just gotta put it all out there and they will know where to go from there with it. So I hope this helped you but there will never be anything you can tell a T where they haven’t heard worse from someone somewhere or in their case studies in college. Hope your hanging in there my friend!!

        • Hi Nansie,

          Thanks for trying to reassure me, but I’ve been told by a couple of therapists that I’m too difficult and too much work. So I can’t make that leap from being seen as difficult and a problem, to being what therapists look for and want. I know those other therapists weren’t skilled in the areas that would make us a good therapeutic fit, but whose to say that Allison is? She said last week that I was too much for any one therapist. At times I am, I know that. It’s all just a bit messy in my head at the moment. I’ll work it through 🙂

          Thanks and take care of yourself 🙂
          CG

  12. To take on something difficult and a lot of work is in most circumstances the most rewarding task, however there are people who are not up to the task or the challenge. I don’t think Allison saying you are too much for anyone therapist means she does not want to help, it just means it would make her job easier.

    I have to agree with Nansie. The therapists have seen or heard of a lot worse through their training. The more you can give them, the more they can help you heal.

    • I think you might be right, as Allison has maintained a calm exterior no matter what has happened… parts of me don’t like that, as it is seen as a taming or manipulation; while another part relishes the consistency that she has offered.

      I’m trying not to overthink things, and keep it as a week to week thing.

      Take care,
      CG

  13. The therapist I had before my current one told me that I was too difficult and accused me of being difficult on purpose. It didn’t work out between us.
    My current therapist has admitted that I can be frustrating at times, but I truly believe that she is up for the challenge. I hope so anyway. I hope that will be the case for you and Allison.

    • Hi Mareeya,

      I’m so sorry you had such a negative experience with your previous therapist. Sometimes even the most skilled therapist can be a poor therapeutic fit. But, sometimes a therapist is working beyond their skill set, and it there isn’t a therapeutic fit to make the work possible. I’m glad you’ve found someone who you can work with now 🙂

      Take care,
      CG

    • Yes. I absolutely agree with you. I went through several therapists before I found my current therapist. I’m sure they were perfectly skilled for certain people, and for certain sets of problems, but they weren’t a fit for me. Ironically, the one who said that I was too difficult was the one who actually referred me to my current therapist.
      I hope you can have that therapeutic fit. I do believe that a good therapeutic fit is critical to making progress in therapy. In the meantime…. keep writing, reading, doing art, or whatever calms you in a safe way. 🙂

  14. Hi,

    Very evocative. I think I need some time to think about all of this. It brings up a huge lot of stuff.

    I wanted to say the obvious, you do not have filth. Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

  15. dear castor, just came by to check in and see how you’ve been doing lately. reading some of these latest comments, i saw that allison told you last week that you were “too much for any one therapist.” oh i am so sorry to hear that she said that. you mentioned having heard similar things from other therapists, so i imagine this might have been really difficult and triggering for you to hear coming from her.

    i can relate not from a therapeutic relationship standpoint, but from people in my life who i tried to be close to, i’ve been told i’m “too much” “too serious” “too sensitive” “too needy” that i “think too much” and these sorts of things, depending on the person and our dynamic. it was always really devastating for me to hear i was “too” anything. it felt so rejecting to me. felt like they were saying something was fundamentally wrong with me, something i felt i had no control over, no way to know how to fix. how can you be “less” of something? so confusing.

    one of the most helpful moments in my life was when i was telling a newish friend that many people had told me i was too sensitive. and my friend told me, “you know katie, i think there are just a lot of people who just aren’t sensitive enough.” and that was a moment that changed my life. i never thought about how i could turn those statements around. that someone else’s negative evaluation of me wasn’t always automatically the truth.

    it occurs to me now thinking about all this, that one thing that has helped me was when i could realize that anyone telling us we are “too” something, doesn’t have to mean something wrong or bad with us. it might mean that the person speaking feels inadequate. that they are human and not perfect. they don’t have all the answers. they don’t always know the right thing to say. that they don’t understand us.

    i think when i’ve felt my healthiest was when i was able to not allow my kneejerk reaction to internalize what i thought were rejecting and devaluing messages, and to feel some kind of internal balance. an ability to recognize that who i am doesn’t have to be something someone else has to necessarily get or understand or know how to handle, for me to be an ok, acceptable and worthwhile human being.

    but still, couldn’t they just find a nicer and more considerate way to put things if they feel overwhelmed? instead of “you’re too much” couldn’t they say “i feel inadequate or like i’m in over my head”? come on people 🙂

    safe warm hugs to you, castor. i hope you’re doing ok since she said that. wishing you well always always~~~

    • Dear katie,

      Thank you for your kindness and sharing your story with me, it helped.

      I understand that Allison was saying that she is not a 24/7 service (no one therapist can be). The problem is that the other forms of assistance here are so bad that they are basically non-existent.

      One moment at a time…

      Take care,
      CG

      • dear castor, i’m glad my sharing helped at all. i am familiar with needing more support than is available to me from whatever support exists. i’m sorry you’re in that position. it can be confusing and upsetting on many levels. i’m glad you have the support you do, in therapy, in yourself, in the blogosphere, etc. and in time, i hope you will feel better overall, so that the inadequacies of the help offered in your society don’t affect you the way they do now. i think it’s terrible how society can mirror bad parenting in that way. i saw your latest post that said you are struggling. i will send positive, peaceful, healing wishes your way. and safe hugs if wanted too~~~

        • Dear katie,

          Your words meant a great deal to me. I really needed to hear them, and they helped to remind me of alternative realities for what happens – one beyond it all being my fault. I will probably keep going to that as a default reaction in my head for awhile yet, but it’s always good to challenge our old ways of thinking and being.

          Thank you so much.

          Take care, and with warm safe hugs,
          CG

          • hi castor~ i have the same default reaction, which is why i feel like i can identify. and finding ways to see things in new perspectives that can feel much healthier is still new for me too. i feel like i’m trying to forge new pathways in my brain and it feels as hard as it must be to actually build a brand new road through an unknown countryside.

            hope your week is going along a bit better~ and warm safe hugs right back 🙂

            • I like how you use the road metaphor katie, as that is exactly how it feels… so difficult – as if the road is totally uncharted, and we’re learning how to build the road as we go. But it is possible, it has to be…

              Take care and with warm safe hugs,
              CG

    • Katie, you have written this so well, its such an encouraging story.

      I definitely agree with what your saying but I also think that some people cannot recognise it in them selves and that is why they project on to other people.

      I don’t think they mean to be mean, or lack consideration. They just don’t think beyond how they are feeling with in themselves. It is sad, but often the case I have found.

      Thank you for sharing.

      • hi kylie~ i think you’re absolutely right and that is a huge challenge each of us face in our lives, sorting out what is actually our problem that we need to take responsibility for, and what is more about the other person (whether or not they recognize or take responsibility for it).

        thank you for making this very good point. wishing you well~

  16. CG, I have been thinking about the “too much” messages that you have heard, but did not really know how to respond. I think katie really nailed it.

    Thank you, katie, for sharing what you did. I think I really needed to read that, too. I hope it encourages her as much as it did me.

    • Hi OneSurvivor,

      I think many of us have heard those messages in one way or another, over the years. katie’s words were a good counter to those messages. It’s easy to internalise it all, even when it has nothing to do with us.

      Take care,
      CG

  17. What an amazing piece of work castorgirl. It is beautiful (and I agree with Holly, your photography is stunning. You are more than just an amateur photographer and I speak as one myself). Thankyou for sharing such an evocative and powerful piece.

    • Hi thesamesky 🙂

      Thank you for the compliment. This was a tough challenge, but a worthwhile one. It’s so interesting to see how we all see ourselves now that the Arts Carnival is published… Moving, sad and inspirational. I’m glad you shared your artwork in the carnival, it’s a stunning piece with so much meaning.

      Take care,
      CG

    • I’m glad you submitted it. But then, I love your artwork, so I’m a little biased 🙂

      I’m glad that you acknowledge in your response to Kerro about the piece, that you are in a different place to when that portrait was drawn… you can accept comfort now. That’s so good to see – and also a great message for all survivors, that healing is possible.

      Take care,
      CG

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