Friday, February 3, 2017

Key To My Artwork

There is a key to understanding much of my recent art.

It is an experience I suppressed.  My unconscious mind was trying to communicate a traumatic childhood experience through symbolism.

I was sexually abused.  But I disassociated and formed a second self to handle the memories.  Now because I am mature and emotionally ready, my mind has been giving me the suppressed memories.  The memories started emerging in December.

The artwork featured at the top of my blog is titled "Two-Headed Mermaid".  It was finished last May, six months before the memories started surfacing.  One face is knowing and looks at the viewer.  The other face looks off into the distance, oblivious.  I am trying to show, in this picture, the nature of my mental disassociation.  Then there is the reason for the disassociation.  The penetration by my father's finger.  Thus the meaning of the fish's nose penetrating the mermaid.  A real moment in time and its consequences. 

The body of work I have been producing for the last 4 years shows 3 prominent signs of sexual abuse  If you go to my website,, you can see all the examples.  The first and most obvious sign of a child who has been abused is the drawing of genitalia.  Children who have not been abused draw figures with clothing.  Children who have been abused focus on genitalia and include it in their figures.  My fascination with depicting genitalia is because my father's behavior caused heightened awareness.  Also, when I emphasize male genitalia it is fear that makes me draw it large scale.  I did not want to touch my father's genitalia but he encouraged me.  My relationship to male genitalia is not a feeling of arousal, rather it is fear, so they are drawn large scale in order to make them look dangerous.

The second sign of sexual abuse in my art are the twined or knotted legs.  Girls who have been sexually abused show legs specifically shut in their art.  My art has many female figures with legs that are woven together, with no space in-between.

The third sign of sexual abuse is the hole in the chest.  I have seen on-line a self-portrait by a young victim of sexual abuse with a hole in the chest.  In my art many times there are creatures that have large spaces in their center.  These creatures seem to grow around a vacant center.  I can only imagine with sadness what the hole in the chest means.  It is an emotional symbol.  The heart has been removed.  Trust has been violated.  I trusted my father as a child and gave him unconditional love.  How can a child recover when there is a hole in their chest?  It is the greatest wound.

Right now I am in shock.  There is no anger or depression yet.  I am trying to wrap my head around the new memories, always asking the question, why?  Dad sexually molesting me seems like the craziest behavior.  He had so much to lose.  And he is a really smart guy.  Couldn't he grasp that there would be psychological consequences to me?  What he did was risky and nuts.

My first reaction when the memories started surfacing in December was a sharp sharp pain in my heart.  It was like someone drove a knife into my heart while it beat in my chest.  My heart hurt so bad.  And then there was wonder at the price I paid for suppressing memory.  So much mental energy!  My brain defied reality.  It overcame and hid reality.  And was this event, or events, the thing that triggered so much mental illness later in my adolescent development?  Dad broke my brain!

Every morning I pray to God.  And when I pray, I name the people in my life that I love and who enrich my life simply by being alive.  Now I don't know what to pray about Dad.  He is alive and healthy.  I have to say, "God, you handle him.  Because I am at a loss what to think or suggest in his case."  I don't want to hate.  But I don't see how I can forgive.

It is very hard to work nowadays.  It is very hard to concentrate.  I am in shock.  My drawing on the easel languishes.  But there is an appointment next Tuesday with a new therapist.  And I have a book to read about surviving sexual abuse.  My marriage took a blow when these memories started.  My husband and I are now celibate and I can't bear to be kissed on the mouth.  He kisses me on the cheek.  For about three weeks in January I swore I wanted a divorce.  I took a vow to never have sex with a male for the rest of my life.  And taking that vow made me really happy.  But of course, my husband is not the enemy.  Far from it.

Turmoil.  My life is in turmoil.  There will eventually be healing.  Healing will come.

Sexual abuse is the key to deciphering my art.

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