Journey in Self Acceptance

21 11 2012

I know that other people find me attractive.  But I’m not entirely sure that I do. At least, not really until recently have I begun to truly look at myself, and say, “You know what, I think I might just be pretty.”

I mean I have for a great deal of my life found parts of me attractive, but never really the whole thing. But you know I watched this:

I recently also bleached my hair, started growing my unibrow back, and wearing my glasses more. And it was a shock, my hair I mean, but now I look at myself in the mirror, and I see, I remember myself. Like before all this crazy shit happened. When I was 10 fucking years old. And I had glasses, a unibrow, and was a toe head. I loved myself. I was weird, and I owned it. I was a tomboy, and didn’t care, I didn’t shower that often and while I smelled bad I was okay with it.

And then around the same time, I started going through puberty. And people took notice, to my hairy arm pits, the fact that I needed a bra but didn’t wear one, the way the hair on my lower legs changed, how I smelled. How big my glasses were. And they started making fun of me. Not my friends, not the people that mattered. But I thought that every one mattered. And that every one mattered more than me. And I started to loose myself.

Slowly at first, but surely, I started to play less with my beanie babies, and other animal toys, I started to stop pretending to be animals, real and ones that I had made up. I stopped having my barbies have sex, and other activities, but really I think they mostly had sex and arguments. It was very Melrose Place in my Barbie House, which I made out of other toys I had (mostly an old homemade wooden cabbage patch high chair). And I even stopped pretending, which this senario was only ever played by myself, that I was the female Indiana Jones I went by Indi, and my boyfriend was Batman, and I had a very tawdry affair with Robin. Like I never shared that game with anyone… and I stopped playing it even with myself.

I stopped doing a lot of things that I liked, that I enjoyed, because I got made fun of. I lost myself, to the desire of being accepted by everyone. But ended up a shell bitch with no friends for at least a year, probably a bit more, by the end of junior high.

All because I wanted to be normal, and not myself.

Well fuck that! No more!

Embodiment and leaving the house

20 11 2012

I finally figured out what it is I’m trying to talk about with my art. I’m trying to deal with the fact that I forever have to live in the setting, the vessel of which my most horrible memories took place.

As a rape survivor, I can’t leave this body. Unless I disassociate. But disassociating also is part of the reason I was raped in the second case. The defense mechanism, became the downfall. It happens all the time in nature. The creature freezes in order to not be seen, unaware that the predator is already engaged. Anyway, even if disassociating hadn’t betrayed me, its no way to go about living.

I’ve decided to undergo some other types of therapy, to see if I can perhaps recover the thing that first taught me to disassociate. So that I can finally deal with it, and really learn how to help that part of myself, best. EMDR and Hypnosis, or one or the other, or together, I dunno, but I’m going to find out about them, soon. I have my first appointment with this woman Tuesday. Its cool, she’s smart, she was one of the leaders of the group that I did last spring and summer.

She was also the first person to use the word abuse, when I described my father. Actually I guess she was the second. The first was the towering and broad shouldered co-worker of my father I was sent to talk to, instead of going to a real psychologist. She had this list, of red flags, signs that you were in an unhealthy relationship. A lot of those things on that list described things my dad did. I think all of them were verbal, certainly most.  But now that I think of it I don’t think she did use that word, abuse. Just “unhealthy relationship”

Maybe she can hypnotize me into thinking that leaving the house on my days off in order to do things like, attend a meeting with my psychiatrist, do laundry, or go grocery shopping isn’t so scary.

So with these two new therapies, I hope that I can better learn how to deal with being within my body, and present. I read some things in that masturbation was supposed to help survivors be more comfortable with their bodies. I don’t think that I have a problem being in my body and feeling the pleasure that comes with masturbation, or sex, I think I have a problem being in my body when it comes to feeling the emotions I am or am not having with sex.

Sex, emotions, and relationships are all very different things to me, that possibly have a kind of ven diagram thing happening, but emotion is barely in either of the two, especially when sex enters into the relationship. It seems that the more sexual I am with a person, the further I want to pull away from them emotionally. Until recently. There was one person who was able to break that cycle of mine, and now I realize the benefit of not being so detached.

Anyway I think I was going to mostly write about my art practice…

I think that my work fluctuates between the state of disassociating, victim, survivor, and aggressor. In some works, only one state is showcased or portratited if you will., in others they are battling, in this confused and violated rawness. The strange thing was when I was doing my work last semester, the phrase that has stuck out in my head the most, is “Your anger, is clear.” I thought the work had moved greatly beyond just anger. I don’t know if that’s true.  The gender reduction monsters are my way of talking about society’s way of making rape jokes, and pointing out how narrow definitions, or stereotypes, castrate, and dehumanize people. But they also point out the absurdity and ridiculous nature of this entire political conversation of redefining rape. The fact that, that is even an option, to qualify rape, as legitimate, or forceful, is unfathomable.  The only thing that is worse is if they were to demand the rapist marry the victim/survivor, that and actually stoning the victim.  By turning women and men into these monsters I hope I have created a kind of comedic relief in talking about something that’s horrible and doesn’t make any sense.

By using the skins, or carcass paintings, I hope that I understand my victimized state. By turning myself into a gender reduction monster I hope that I have a better understanding of what I see the male gaze as. Maybe the carcass paintings are the skins of the gender reduction monsters, maybe by merging myself with them, or falling into them, or embracing them, I am reaching out to the victim, the disassociating self, and trying to hold on to it and comfort it, expressing the fluid nature of victim/survivor identity. By tearing paper, and collaging with it, and then white washing it, to me it reminds me of what happened when I told my mother and father. That hazy memory, but more how they look at me so different now but never really talk about why.  How my father doesn’t really look me in the eye anymore.

But the general distress and labor that goes into each work, is as Merleau-Ponty puts it, a birth. And the result is a body, each work is its own body, and its own kind of expression of self, of myself.  Pointing back at me, looking at me, calling out wanting… to be healed, to be whole, to be human again. Embodiment or at least the struggle with it, is a human one. And rape is the ultimate dehumanization. For what is a human with out a body?  And how do I live in and love that body after what happened inside? That is the question that I am looking at, and since I’m a painter, that’s the kind of things I make.

I think I may have just stumbled upon about a half way done artist statement there. Awesome.


With the Weight of My Hand

10 08 2011

Here I am in Boston. Rain has been common this past week. And with it my mood and restlessness have shifted to reflect the storms.

When I was a kid I was mostly fearless. I think the only thing that really frightened me was my father, and ladders. My imagination ran wild freely, with out a care of who was laughing as I traipsed about acting out some glorious epic that not even I really knew of its end. I climbed trees and vines, raced through woods, stomped through silty creek beds, and caught a variety of insects and wild life.

I would pretend some times that I had found an ancient artifact, or an old Native American encampment. I remember the way the sunlight fell through the tree canopies and created a kind of natural kaleidoscope of the sky.

Ever so often I would have the urge to run away and I would get on my bike and ride out side of the neighborhood, something forbidden by my mother, at least in by myself. I would ride and ride, feeling my breath hasten and become short, feel that piercing stick of what some call a “stitch” in my side. It was always in my right lung that it would happen. At some point I would reach a relative dead end and turn around and go home.  I thought of living out in the half assed fort that some of the neighbor kids built in a clearing in the woods. But I would eventually enter the house go to my room, and climb up into the upper part of my bed, my own personal sanctuary.

I used to beat my cabbage patch doll. I don’t know why. I would be playing and I would pretend that it got into trouble and I would spank it, but then go ape shit and take it by the legs and slam it against my loft’s floor. I would grab its shirt, grit my teeth, and like in slow motion this rage would take over and I think the only thing I ever said, was “bad” over and over and over. Its blue eyed, blonde haired, blank staring face would never change, its head always remained intact even as it bounced off the post of my bed, the wall, the railing, but especially the floor. The way the face stayed the same only made my anger grow. Eventually I would always stop. My breathing would be heavy, tears often having formed with out my knowing.

I have no idea where this rage came from. But its still inside me. Only now I don’t have the doll to take it out on. I do know that it scares me that I have this amount of anger inside of me. So much angers me. Most of it isn’t even in my control, or I’ve had very little to do with.  I feel like I have been suppressing it for so long, I don’t know how much longer I can really handle doing that. But then I’m not really sure I have a healthy outlet to release it. Sure art helps, but I’m not sure that its enough.

Maybe I just need to keep up the stream of consciousness writing, even if it does always end up in illegible swearing with the paper tearing from the weight of my hand.