WIP – Monogram ‘A’

WIP Monogram A © Angela Porter |Artwyrd.com
WIP Monogram A © Angela Porter |Artwyrd.com

I’ve got a bit more work done on this entangled monogram. It’s coming along fairly well, though I’m still not at all sure about the colour choices. Mind you, that often happens with me and I persevere and it works out fine at the end.

As usual my trio of digital tools are : Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So Angela, how are you today?

I’m still really, really tired. I got to bed early-ish (for me). I had weird dreams again. That’s the third night in a row.

I could just go back to bed, but I can’t. I’m taking my sister out for lunch and she’ll be arriving soon.

I’m still content, but there’s a shadow there too. It may be tiredness. It may be the inner critic taking advantage of my tiredness. It may be that sense of deflation after EMDR. Or it could be any combination of these or something else entirely!

What I do know is that I’ll focus on that contented feeling that is there, if a little in the background today.

It’s not that long ago that this kind of tiredness would have me really down in the dumps, sad, miserable, fed up. I’m tired, but my lack of energy is due to tiredness, some of which is emotional tiredness after EMDR. It is taking a while for me to recover this week.

That’s OK though, for recover I will. I’ll soon be full of energy (relatively speaking) once again.

A bit of whimsy – ice cream mandala

A bit of whimsy - an ice cream mandala ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
A bit of whimsy – an ice cream mandala ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve mostly been away from social media, and art, this weekend. Sometimes one just has to have a break from it.

This morning I discovered that July is ice-cream month, so I thought I’d do something quick, fun, and whimsical with an ice cream mandala.

Not happy with much of the mandala. I can’t put my fingers on why;maybe it’s the seemingly childish nature of the art, the lack of complexity, the colour choices, or something else.

It did seem like a good idea at the time, and even though I wasn’t happy with it, I was determined to work with it until it was finished.

It was, however, mainly a practice in using layers and different digital brushes. It also helped me get back to digital art after a weekend of mostly crocheting.

As usual, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So Angela, how are you today?

Just like the previous days, including Saturday and Sunday, I’m feeling content. I’m tired after not a good night’s sleep with weird dreams I can’t now remember.

I needed a break from social media this weekend; too much doom and gloom in the goings on around the world. I also felt I needed a bit of a break from art. I wasn’t happy with whatever it was I was doing (colouring the design for the cover of a colouring book I’m working on). So, I spent much of the weekend crocheting the big scrapbusting blanket I’ve been working on.

Well done me for recognising I needed to do some self-care!

The blanket is nearly finished, and my wrists and fingers are aching from the weight of the blanket as I join pieces in. However, I do think it’s working out just fine.

Crocheting is soothing for me – its repetitive nature is calming. Mind you, I also watched a few films while doing it. That was soothing too.

Today is EMDR day and I’ll soon have to sort myself out to head out for my weekly session. I know we need to finish off what was being worked on in the last two sessions. I then think I know what needs to be worked on next.

I do have to say that despite my tiredness, I think I’ve had a week of contentment and positivity and few moments of upset in one way or another. I can’t remember a whole week like this, with the level of contentment that I’m aware of and what I think is a reduction in the background level of anxiety.

Progress is progress. Sometimes it comes in tiny amounts. Occasionally, progress comes in larger, more noticeable amounts. At other times it’s noticed only when enough tiny amounts have accumulated for me to see progress has been made.

I’m not sure which of those applies at the moment, maybe all of them. But it’s still most welcome, and also a sign that I’m increasingly self-aware compared to the person who would ignore emotions, distress, dangerous situations all to keep other people happy to my own detriment, even though I wasn’t aware of that at the time.

I am now aware of it and I feel embarrassment and shame. I feel stupid for allowing myself to do such things.

I am, however, determined to heal and move on to become a person who considers my own feelings, emotions and safety is as important and to learn to feel safe in this world, in my body.

Sending Love – A Dangle Design

Sending Love - A Dangle Design ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Sending Love – A Dangle Design ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

For today’s whimsical and cute dangle design, I used one of the designs from my tutorial book “A Dangle A Day”, altered the hand lettered sentiment and changed the colour scheme.

I used just five colour schemes in the design itself – blues, yellow-orange, pinks, peachy-orange and yellow-greens. I used a blue and green from the design to create the background colour gradient.

By using the same colour gradients throughout the design it brings the design together.

I added a simple drop shadow to the whole design to give it a little dimension. I could have added drop shadows to the lettering and the flowers in the rectangular charm, but I chose to keep it quite simple today.

I think this would make a lovely note card or greetings card. I also think, perhaps with a different sentiment, make a lovely page for a BuJo, journal, diary, planner, and it would be lovely as part of the design of a scrapbook page.

How would you use a design like this?

I drew, handlettered and coloured the design digitally using my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio as if I was working with pens on paper. My preferred art software is Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

So Angela, how are you today?

I’m content with that background level of anxiety. I feel motivated to work even though I’m really tired again. This time it was from a late night conversation with a friend in need. I can nap later if I need to. The tiredness is actually giving me a headache.

My Nikita Gill books of poetry arrived yesterday and I spent some time reading one, “Wild Embers” from cover to cover.

I cried at some poems as they really touched something inside me, when she describes in words things I’m only beginning to recognise within me.

With other poems it was like a light bulb came on as understanding was ignited within me.

Yet others highlighted the difference between how girls and women are viewed to boys and men, and treated differently, and brought up to believe different things about themselves.

You can tell in her writing she has survived some serious trauma; she writes not just from her heart and soul, but from experience.

I can recommend her work to anyone who has experienced abuse, trauma and who, like me, struggles to describe what is emerging from the Pandora’s box of the past as the healing progresses.

It helps to show I am not alone. It helps to show other survivors of abuse that they are not alone.

I felt alone as I had no one to turn to when I needed someone most. I withdrew within myself, isolating myself, being lonely even when surrounded by a loud, extrovert-filled family. Desperate to join in, to be part of it, but scared to be noticed as that left me open to being the one who was made fun of, blamed for anything and everything. It was horrible to be ignored too when I’d spoken; that happened often. I never learned to speak up for myself, to ask for help, to say what I needed. I suffered long in silence.

I make no apologies for speaking up now. For talking about what happened to me, not in any great detail as I don’t have that myself.

I make no apologies for trying to raise awareness about the damage that emotional neglect does, how worthless being ignored and uncared for made me feel, and has made and does make others feel. How it grinds a person down day after day after day…

I make no apologies for doing what I can to help others to not minimise the effect these things have had on them. To stop telling themselves, like I did, that I was weak, an attention seeker, a whiner, a whinger, a liar when I was in need of help or support.

Someone made me believe that was what I was as children are not born believing that of themselves.

I make no apologies for writing about these things if it helps people understand that someone made them believe these things about themselves and they can unlearn them and replace them with more positive beliefs.

A thought just came to me then. As I teacher I focused on teaching students with additional learning needs. My first focus was to build their self-esteem and self-belief, always. I was shocked at how little so many of them thought of themselves and I found that incredibly sad.

I could see that in them and I could see how I helped them believe in themselves more, one tiny step at a time.

I can see now how I knew I too felt the same way about myself but believed myself too damaged to be healed or not worth thinking better of myself.

Now, with the help of EMDR, I am changing those beliefs about myself little by little.

That inner critic is mostly silent these days, I think. I still suspect it is still creating a very quiet susurrus deep in the depths of my conscious mind. However, it’s malignant murmuration becomes louder when I’m overly tired, emotionally drained, or my anxiety is increased by some trigger.

However, I have to say it’s power over me seems to have diminished.

That’s not to say I’m healed enough yet. I still have those negative beliefs about myself – ugly, unloveable, self-loathing of myself and my body – and of course there’s the inability to feel safe a lot of the time, sometimes even in my own home.

Of course there may be other things that arise during EMDR.

However I do think I have made a lot of progress over the years. Slow and steady for sure, but progress all the same.

Anyway, back to Nikita Gill.

I can recommend her work to those who are friends, partners, family members of those who have been abused to help to understand what someone is going through.

I can recommend her work to all, for her words are thought provoking in a gentle but descriptive manner.

I think I may be lending this book to my therapist…that’s how valuable I think it is.

Monogram Idea

Monogram Idea ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Monogram Idea ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I had an idea yesterday for a different way of creating a monogram. This is my work on it so far. The green-grey background is just to show the letter shape. I did hand letter the outline of the A.

I wanted to try this out with the way I’ve been creating digital art of late. I’m trying to keep the motifs simpler just so I can see how, or if, this will work out. So far i’m really not all that sure about it. As I’ve put a few hours into it so far, I’ll keep going and see how it progresses.

I’m wondering if using flowers may be the wrong kind of idea and I should’ve stuck to my more abstract patterns, arches and so on.

I’m really not sure about my colour choices either.

However, as it is a test piece of an idea that popped into my head I do need to work with it some more.

My mood isn’t helping me today, more about that further along this blog post.

As usual, I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with my Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m fecking shattered. I hadn’t fully recovered from EMDR on Monday and doing an anti-stigma talk drained me more than I thought it would, even though I focused on what CPTSD is, how it affects my life, the stigmatisation I’ve experienced, and both the helpful and unhelpful things people have said and done.

After the talk I was absolutely ravenous and rather than go home before going out again to something I had on in the evening, I thought I’d eat out.

So, I went to a pub/restaurant I’ve been to before and bravely went in and had a meal! All by myself! Whether this was out of sheer hunger and desperation, or whether I really was feeling brave and more confident I don’t know. But I did it!

I didn’t get home until late after the evening meeting, and though I slept long and well I am still tired now.

I have that weird double, or even triple, feeling inside me. I can sense the underlying anxiety, though it does seem to be diminished a little since EMDR on Monday. I can also feel that contentedness that seems to have taken up residence in me. However, I’m overly emotional, tearful, and sad in waves.

My therapist has said that it’s a very Western thing to think that we can only experience one emotion at a time. In the East they accept that we can feel multiple emotions at a time.

For some reason that helped me to accept that this is what is happening in me, and that I’m more aware of my emotions and thoughts after a lifetime of avoiding/ignoring them and pushing them away.

I think my mindfulness training with a Buddhist tutor really helped in accepting this too. One of the metaphors he used is that we are like the sky. The sky it’s self is calm, still, peaceful. However the winds and clouds move through the sky and they are like our emotions, the come and go in different amounts and strengths.

The contentedness I feel is that sky within. Today I have multiple clouds scudding through and circling around. Just like the clouds in the sky above me today, they will float on by.

These moods and tiredness don’t help me at all with my confidence in my creativity. When I’m emotionally exhausted I do find it hard to find the good in anything I say or do.

However, I know that in time my exhaustion is healed and my confidence increases once again.

Today is another day where I need to be kind to myself. And that kindness will begin with another mug of tea and then a good long nap. After the nap, I may feel refreshed and ready to tackle colouring a template for the cover of a book. If not, there’s tomorrow to do so.

Wednesday

Wednesday ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Wednesday ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

A cute and simple mandala today with a little bit of hand lettering in the centre.

I used a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to create this mandala.

So, Angela Porter, how are you today?

I’m a lot less exhausted than yesterday. I slept, lots. I’m still feeling a bit light headed and tired, but I am able to mostly function this morning, as evidenced by the cute mandala.

I have to get my self sorted soon to head off out to give an anti-stigma talk for Time to Change Wales. I’m sure I’ll be able to do it and I can take time to recover afterwards if I need to.

I’m still quite surprised about how deeply the last EMDR session has affected me. Not only tiredness, but my digestive system is again a bit out of kilter. It will all settle down again given time, just has it always has in the past. It’s all just part of the healing process. It’s the after effects of ‘surgery’ to release the trauma. No surgery is without unpleasant after effects and time needed to heal.

Nikita Gill – poet

I found this wonderful poet the other day and I have ordered three of her books. She so eloquently creates poems that describe aspects of my CPTSD, trauma and my healing journey too.

Kintsugi

On the days
when you feel
ashamed of your scars,
your mind only registering
how ugly they are
rather than the beauty
they prove of you having survived,
remember that
there is an entire art form dedicated
to filling the cracks of broken things with lacqurered gold.

An entire art form that proves that
even the broken and damaged history of an object
is beautiful and should be treasured.

Remember
how much more you are
than an object.
Remember
your survival, your journey,
your scars deserve
to be treasured too.

______________________
Nikita Gill

That is just one of so very many poems that spoke to me. I look forward to the delivery of the books so I can read through many, many more.

Be Patient.

Artwork © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Artwork © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

It’s turning into a weird kind of day.

I was up until nearly 3am talking with a friend in need of listening and some help to make sense of what’s happened in their life.

I did get a few hours sleep, but I am now flagging just a tad and I’m really not up to doing some ‘adulting’ before going to therapy. I know if I’m over-tired then I get overly anxious all too easy. I can do without that kind of flare up before EMDR.

So, I thought I’d look for some words to do with therapy and healing and I found these by Yasmin Mogahed.

I’ve done a very simple mandala-like design/frame around the words. Just simple shapes and shadows. Nothing fancy. I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio (no surprises there!).

I thought the spirals would represent the traumas slowly unfurling and flowing away, the darkness being transformed into light. The green leaves represent that new growth and healing. The smaller purple leaves I thin represent the poison, the stored trauma that still exists, but they are reducing in size.

I don’t know. I may be trying to put an interpretation onto the design that isn’t needed. I’ll let you be the judge of that.

It’s been a nice way to spend an hour or two. I do wish I had time to sleep some more, but I do have to do an errand on my way to therapy.

I have no idea what therapy will bring with it this week. I never do know. Little by little the traumas are being identified and processed.

My mind isn’t finding the words I need now, so I’ll potter along to sort myself out for my trip to therapy. Another mug of tea I think (caffeine is likely to be my pal today) and a gently drive westwards in the cloudy sunshine.

Mandala WIP and thoughts about CPTSD and stigma

Warning – there are triggers in the CPTSD section of my blog today.

Mandala WIP © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Mandala WIP © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

A little more work done on this mandala before I start back on a colouring template or two today.

It’s progressing quite nicely, though colour choice for latest ‘ring’ was an issue for the ‘shell-like’ green arc. It was a blue, but that didn’t seem qutie right, so I changed it for a green with a hint of blue. I’ve not quite finished with this section yet, but I want to let it ‘sit’ for a while and I can come back to it with fresh eyes.

I had thought the previous, darker ring was going to be a mis-fit. However, now I’ve added this latest ring, the darker one gives some much-needed contrast, and a bit more dept too. The inner part of those pointy arches makes me think of windows with a view out on the starry sky. Of course, the pointy arches make me think of gothic arches in churches and abbeys, with a more modern, sci-fi feel perhaps.

It’s not quite finished yet. But working on it one section at a time and then taking a break really helps me to see what I’m trying to do.

As usual, my tools are Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Surface Pen and a Surface Studio from Microsoft.

So, how are you doing today Angela?

Gently contented

I’m doing ok I think. I am feeling tired though due to not quite a long enough night’s sleep. I have that gentle contentedness with me again today, which is a good thing.

See, EMDR can cause upset, but all of these days of that quiet contentedness and a greater self-awareness are very much worth the difficult minutes, hours, days or even weeks after sessions.

This too shall pass.

Quite true. The fallout from EMDR does pass as processing continues or as my body needs to come down from an emotionally distressing time in some way. Sometimes that takes just a few hours or overnight. At other times it may take a couple of days or longer.

A small price to pay for days like today where I have that gentle contentedness. I’ve had precious few of them throughout the entirety of my life, most of them have been in the past few months or so thanks to the work being done in EMDR.

Warning – The following sections may contain triggers concerning abuse, narcissistic abuse, childhood abuse

Just forget about your past.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been told this by well-meaning people who have no understanding of CPTSD at all. I try to explain why it’s not possible, but they just seemingly don’t get it.

I think people think I spend all my time replaying my past memories over and over and over. Nothing is further from the truth.

Yes, I make statements about what has happened to me. That doesn’t mean I constantly play the events over and over again.

What plays over and over again is the anxiety, the fear, the feeling of being unsafe that these traumas have created in me, that live in me still. Various events can trigger an emotional, behavioural and/or thought-process responses from the anxiety, fear and unsafe feelings I carry all the time.

Also, I have very few memories from my past, particularly my childhood. I’m aware of some of the negative beliefs I have about myself. I get emotional flashbacks. But I have very few memories of situations that have contributed to these things.

How can you forget about a past you can’t remember?

With CPTSD the body, feelings, thoughts and behaviours are stuck in the past. Even now, no part of me feels safe in this world very often. Maybe when at home. Sometimes when I’m out and about with a companion. Rarely when out and about by myself.

Everyday life is fraught with danger for me. Maybe the danger is not real, but my body, my emotions believe it is and so my mind reacts accordingly.

Every single day of my life for as long as I can remember, right the way back to the few earliest memories I had as a child.

One of my earliest memories is of being a toddler and living in Cheshire. The back garden of the house backed on to a wheat field. I can remember going through the fence or hedge into the field, just to the edge where I actually was quite safe, to watch the combine harvester in action. As it was moving towards me, I became so scared I was frozen to the spot and was screaming in fear. My mother shouted at my older sister for not watching me, she came and shouted at me for daring to leave the garden. I can’t remember if my mother and sister argued, but I remember a lot of anger and fear with me. I have a memory of being told to stop screaming and crying or I’d be in trouble.

Even now, I get anxious at the thought of that memory. I can feel the fear of that younger me; not just the fear of a big, noisy machine heading towards me, but the anger around me. I don’t remember being comforted, reassured, calmed. I just remember anger from those present.

I do know that there have been many other instances in my life where I’ve been in that kind situation again – where I’m scared and I freeze, but don’t scream or speak out. I learned at a young age not to speak up or scream as that just made the people I looked to for caring or safety angry.

I remember a small number of these instances, but so many more have been ‘forgotten’ by locking them away where I can’t access the memory itself. It’s a self-protection strategy that happens. It’s not a deliberate action. It’s what the mind does to protect itself.

However, the conscious mind may not be able to access them, but the body, emotions, instinctive reactions, behaviours certainly do remember them.

So, does this explain, a little, why I can’t just forget about my past and move on? I hope so.

The stigma surrounding mental and emotional suffering.

Would any of us tell someone who has broken a leg to just forget about it, not get any treatment, and continue to go about their lives as if nothing has happened to them?

Of course we wouldn’t.

Well, not unless you’re someone like my mother who wouldn’t believe I’d hurt my leg and made me walk around for three days before calling the doctor. I remember the doctor yelling at my mother that I should have been taken to the hospital A&E straight away as I’d broken my leg. I seem to remember being in trouble for breaking my leg and getting her into trouble with the doctor.

Oh, I was blamed for her being shouted at too. Everything was always my fault. That’s what happens when a narcissistic mother makes you a scapegoat.

Anyway, caring, compassionate, loving people wouldn’t hesitate in taking a child for medical treatment or encouraging an adult to seek medical help if they needed it.

Yet some of the same people who’d encourage medical treatment for a physical illness somehow think that with an injured mind or emotions you should just get along with life as if nothing has happened.

The emotional distress through anxiety that I feel daily doesn’t go away just because I ignore it.

Anxiety stops me from doing things I want to do because I get so scared that I just can’t do it. I freeze. I need to retreat to my safe place which can be my home or my car.

Putting a brave face on is like putting a sticking plaster over a manky, infected wound. The wound now looks better, but underneath it’s festering.

Emotional and mental damage done by trauma is the festering, infected wound that hasn’t been treated properly. They don’t go away on their own, in the same way a broken leg won’t heal properly without treatment.

It’s not the memories themselves that are the problem. It’s the behaviours, feelings, responses that come from trauma damaged mind and emotions that are the problem.

I wasn’t ever helped through any trauma in my life, ever, as I was a child and into adulthood too. I was never helped to learn healthy coping strategies, to understand what happened, how to feel safe again. I was never helped to be resilient.

I learned unhealthy coping strategies that I still use. I also learned to wear a protective mask of happiness, confidence that belied the very scared, insecure, unloved, self-hating person within.

EMDR therapy is helping to undo the trauma and replace it with healthier ways of thinking about myself and living my life.

EMDR isn’t a sticking plaster for me, it’s like the hip-height plaster cast that I needed for three months to help the broken bone in my lower leg to heal. It would’ve taken less time and a shorter cast if I hadn’t been forced to walk on my leg as if there was nothing wrong.

I absolutely believe it is time that society starts to change the way they think about mental and emotional illnesses. The suffering they cause to the people who experience them is no less great than for physical illnesses.

This is one reason I include my journey to CPTSD in my blog, along with my art. I tell my story to help some people gain understanding. I tell it to let others know they’re not alone. I tell it to let people know it’s not just the big traumas in life that can affect someone – war, major accidents, life threatening events, rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse.

The constant daily actions of emotional neglect, emotional and mental abuse, bullying, scapegoating, an environment full of conflict and drama, can all take their toll on a person, especially a child who hasn’t had the help to learn the tools to be resilient.

It wears away at a person like the gradual drip, drip, drip of water on stone can wear a hole in it over time.

A child being abused by it’s parent(s) doesn’t stop loving it’s parent(s), it stops loving itself.Shahida Arabi

I’m guilty of minimising the effects my upbringing has had on me. Until fairly recently I thought everyone was brought up in a home just like mine and I was weak, pathetic, useless, a whinger, a complainer, for thinking it had affected me, and a liar for thinking this had really happened.

I’m only just becoming aware of the gas-lighting done to me. Recognising the ‘you’re a liar, you’re just attention seeking, don’t bother me with your nonsense’ self-beliefs created in me has having come from another isn’t easy.

We need to stop categorising some traumas as worse than others.

What is important is how deeply a person has been affected by the trauma producing experiences, experiences where they feel unsafe.