Trauma and change

©Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
©Angela Porter 2019

Monday is EMDR therapy day for me and my mind seems to go towards finding relevant quotes and then doing my usual thing of adding patterns around them.

This one has what seems to me to be rather heavy handed patterns around the quote. I drew the patterns with a broad nib Faber Castell fountain pen filled with Diamine Jet Black ink. I may have chosen too broad a nib for this illustration; the artwork is slightly less than A5 in size.

I enjoyed the process of creating this, however, and some quiet, calm, self-care time is needed this evening.

I had a yet another draining EMDR session today, one that had some insight for me. There were plenty of quiet tears too. I suspect that tomorrow will be a quiet self-care day also.

I’m used to this happening now and tend to plan my working time around the need for self-care. I’ve learned that self-care is important. I’m also learning not to be surprised at how something that seems as gentle as EMDR has such a profound effect on myself.

It’s a good thing I had quite a busy morning prior to heading off to my appointment and got a few templates sorted out for the coloring book I’m working on.

Entangled art, mental health quote.

©Angela Porter 2019

The Art…

Yesterday, I stumbled upon this quote before I headed off to my EMDR therapy session. I decided I wanted a fairly simple pattern around/behind it, and just simple colours, though I’ve played around a little with adding patterns to the sections.

I printed out the quote and the borders. I Used a Pentel Sign pen to draw the bold, black lines of the design. To colour the design, I used a Microsoft Surface Pen, a Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. Behind the design I added a paper texture which, with some wizardry of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, I was able to add to the design to add some texture and imperfection.

Walks, EMDR and being brave…

I had a lovely drive to Neath for my EMDR therapy and I arrived with enough time to go seek out some yarn to buy for my knitting/crochet stash as well as have a walk around Victoria Park in the winter sunshine.

The first blooming daffodils were proudly holding their bright yellow heads up for all to see, and there were signs of plenty more to follow. Snowdrops, crocuses, pansies were all there to be seen too. Lichens on the bark of trees created a beautiful natural tapestry of colour and pattern. It really was lovely to see.

Without the leaves on the trees to muffle the songs of the birds it was quite raucous at times, but raucous in a beautiful way. The birds didn’t quite drown out the sound of traffic, people or the tinny sounding music coming from the speakers in the bandstand, but they were loud enough that I could listen to them and filter out the other sounds.

It was nice to be out in the fresh air after a few days of barely leaving my home as I recovered from the emotionally draining days of last week. It was nice to take a space to breathe before going in for therapy.

The quote above was a starting point for my session, during the usual reflection on how last weeks EMDR had affected me and how I’d been through the week. One of the weeks sticking points that cause me some discomfort was the many people telling me I’m brave for telling my story, for going to therapy and how good it is that I’m showing people that it is possible to recover from mental illness.

Brave? Me? Surely not! That goes against everything I was led to believe about myself from as young as I could remember.

“You’re fat, thick, stupid, ugly. No one loves you. No one will love you. No one will be your friend. You’re useless. You’re a failure. So and so is much better than you at everything. Don’t bother me. You’re making it up. You’re’ to blame for all of this. Why do you want to bother doing that?”

If I asked for help I was either made fun of, dismissed or ignored. Me and my feelings weren’t important.

No matter what I did to try to please or make people proud of me or to acknowledge how well I had done it was never good enough. There was always a put-you-down.

The only time my narcissistic mother ever expressed any pride in me wasn’t really pride in ME.

My daughter has graduated.” ” My daughter has a PhD.”

She has three daughters. I was never mentioned by name, not even if I was stood next to her. It was all about her. I was only useful for what could make her look better, for her to be the centre of attention.

These messages were taken up by other people around me. They became ingrained in me as the view I had of myself. I still speak to myself using these phrases when I’m in a fragile state mentally or emotionally.

I’ve known about the way I think about myself and where it has come from long while. However, the realisation that my feelings have never been important to anyone, not even to myself. I’ve pushed my feelings, my needs away so that other people don’t get upset or angry with me, so I make sure they’re always happy, even if inside I’m suffering in some way. This was something that came out of the very, very painful, emotional and frustrating EMDR session that followed.

Frustrating as I have very, very few memories of my past. I was made aware I was trying to hard to find a memory and reminded that part of cPTSD is hiding painful memories away, forgetting about them as a way of coping. I was told it’s ok not to have any memory. That I just need to let things be as they are in EMDR.

I think I’m trying so hard to ‘succeed’ at finding a memory, not to disappoint, the harder I try, the less likely it is for a memory to appear. The funny thing is, that once I accepted that through all the tears and anger and frustration with myself, the memories just appeared. There were so many that we just bundled them together as a ‘cluster’ and worked with them.

Then, through the tears and the pain in my throat and heart, a quiet, small voice told me that I had done nothing wrong and I did not deserve any of this. That I deserve better.

We tried working on me believing that through EMDR techniques. That caused me more tears and upset and emotional pain. So we called an end to the EMDR and talked a little about things.

Through EMDR I’m revealing more and more of my story. It causes me pain when new parts are discovered or insights are gained. But without that revealing taking place there is no hope of me healing. My aim is to tell my story without feeling any pain.

I was very tearful with weird memories cropping up as I drove home and through the evening. I had weird and disturbing dreams through the night. I woke with a blinding headache, which is still with me despite some painkillers. I feel so tired, weepy. However, I know there’s been a breakthrough, more than one actually, through yesterday’s therapy session.

The last words my therapist left me with were that she thinks I am very brave. Brave for telling my story. Brave for seeking out therapy to help me heal. Brave for persevering with EMDR when it can cause me a lot of distress and upset. Brave for showing people that recovery from mental health problems is possible. Brave for telling people that seeking therapy/counselling is a strong thing to do as we are helped to learn the skills we need to regain our mental and emotional wellbeing.

I don’t feel brave. I don’t understand how people think that I am. I do know I want to tell what I feel able to do so of my story to let others know they’re not alone. I do want to tell people about my journey to recovery so they can see that recovery is possible. I tell it to try to help others.

I don’t do it for attention. I don’t do it to have people feel sorry for me. That is my narcissistic mother, and others, still putting me down via the voice that is my inner critic.

Entangled Quote

©Angela Porter 2019

I’ve worked on this design over the past three days. I wanted to do another version of this particular quote in my more characteristic pen and ink, intricate, entangled style of art.

I used various pens to draw this on recycled copy paper (I know, but it’s preserved for posterity as a digital file now). The quote and the boundary lines were printed out on a laser printer. I could have hand lettered it, but I wanted a typewritten look for the quote.

I did add colour and texture to the background using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio, but the drawing was all done traditionally with various black pens.

This is so characteristic of my work from quite a few years ago, before I worked on colouring books. I think last week’s stresses and strains – EMDR, Time to Talk Day – had me wanting to escape into the familiar, the comforting, the easy (for me at least) which is why I defaulted to this style of art.

I do have to push myself out of this very comfortable art zone to work on templates for my next coloring book, one which could have an added bit of stress for me concerning its theme. I’m determined to do it though!

It’s taken me until today to fully recover from all of last week’s emotionally tiring events, just in time for my weekly EMDR session! So, I plan to get some drawings done for the book this morning before I head to Neath in what looks like it’s going to be a sunny late winter day. I also really need to get a brisk walk in nature in today. My fragile state has had me remaining in the safety of my home or car. Today, I feel the need to move my body a bit more.

Entangled art

©Angela Porter 2019

I found this lovely quote a couple of days ago and knew I wanted to add entangled patterns around it.

About the art.

Rather than hand letter, I decided to print the quote by J.M. Storm out, along with the outlines to the boxes. I do very much like a well defined space to work within. I know I’ve done art where I’ve left an organic, uneven edge in the past, but I still like those clear boundaries.

To draw the patterns I used a Sheaffer fountain pen along with 06 and 04 Pigma Sensei pens from Sakura. The 06 led to me using some heavy lines to define the patterns and sections, something I’ve not often done for a very, very long time and I find it pleasing. Again, clear boundaries. I also like when art like this is coloured; it looks like stained glass and I love stained glass.

I may spend time colouring this today. I woke with a terrific headache this morning. Although it’s mostly passed, thanks to some Anadin Extras and copious quantities of tea, I still feel kind of spacey and tired and not able to focus much.

Why I like this quote.

She is a beautiful piece of broken pottery, put back together by her own hands. And a critical world judges her cracks while missing the beauty of how she made herself whole again.
J.M. Storm

I like it because it almost perfectly describes how I think about what is happening to me during therapy, about my journey to recovery.

The traumas of my life, right from a very young age, left me cracked and over time those cracks led to my mental health and emotional health breaking into pieces.

I’m the one who has to put the pieces back together, however I don’t have the skills and tools to do that. That’s where my therapist, my counsellor comes in. EMDR therapy helps to reprocess the traumas that led to me developing cPTSD and helps me to change the old, unhealthy, harmful thoughts and behaviours that I have into healthy thoughts and behaviours. My therapist helps me learn the tools I need to do this as well as to be more resilient as my life progresses, and so much more I’m sure.

I don’t know if it’s possible to make myself whole. My aim, though, is to be whole enough to have a life where I can do what I currently am unable to do – set healthy boundaries, be confident in myself, be less scared of the world around me, and so on.

I’ll always have cracks – evidence of the life I have led – but I want those cracks to be filled with gold or silver or copper so that they are things of beauty in themselves. They are evidence of where I’ve come from and what has led me to be the person I am.

I’m well aware that as I heal I won’t be quite the same person I was and many people won’t be happy about that. But those are the people who have wanted me to fit into their image of how they have thought I should be for their own ends, not least of which is my narcissistic mother.

No doubt my becoming the person I was meant to be, a mentally and emotionally healthy, resilient, self-aware, self-compassionate woman would be a source of great criticism for those who don’t like the changes in me as I heal the mental and emotional wounds.

Part of the process is learning from the past and freeing myself from the limitations placed upon me in the past by others with their own agenda, whether conscious or unconscious.

I’m sure there’s a lot more reasons why I like this quote, but the fluff-filled post-headache spaced out mind just can’t focus just now.

Monograms M and G

Yesterday was a day where I was out of sorts for some unspecified reason. Drawing little, intricate bits of art was the only thing that helped to soothe me and calm me. Along with comfort eating, which was not good way to cope.

I get days like this. I have no idea what triggered this response. It may have been a visit to my accountant on Tuesday and the tax bill to pay – I have absolutely nothing to worry about with either, but dealing with finances is a trigger for the anxiety and depression that are part of my cPTSD.

I know I was on edge about the meeting, even though I knew there would be nothing to worry about. The anxiety had been gradually growing through the previous few days. This anxiety provoked the warning signs of an incipient migraine/stress headache on Tuesday morning. Luckily I caught it in time with painkillers so that it didn’t develop into a full blown migraine and after the meeting I was left tired but feeling more at ease.

Yesterday, the anxiety ramped up again as I went to get the paperwork and bank card to make the payments. So, yesterday I needed to manage my anxiety and tiny, intricate drawings were what was needed.

Today, I know I have to do these things, and I will. I don’t have the anxiety I had about them yesterday. I think yesterday was just too close to a few days of spiralling anxiety as accounts day approached closer and closer.

cPTSD can make doing the simple things in life far more difficult to do. I do get things done, though I do have to be kind to myself at times, making sure I have plenty of time before the deadline.

I used fountain pens on white paper to draw the designs. The M is on paper that is around 4″ x 4″, the G is a little narrower than 4″ for some reason.

After scanning them in, I did a bit of digital wizardry to fill the letters with a gold foil texture, just to see what it would look like, and they look OK to me. I’m not too keen on the black line around the G though. I do like the contrast of the golden letters and the black and white designs around them.

Today, I have to colour the cover for my next book for Dover Publications Creative Haven series. And keep warm and safe. I woke up to a lovely sunrise with a frosty world – everything was covered with white. I know the temperature was down to -3ºC last night as I came home around 10:30 pm, and it would only have got colder as the skies were clear and starry. It’s beginning to go now, but clouds have covered the sky.

The frost is beginning to disappear now, but clouds have covered the blue skies. Snow is forecast for a bit later on today. I like to see snow. I like the way the world falls silent in heavy snow as it seems to muffle the usual background noise of modern times. I’m wise enough to know that for me to go out in snow is never a wise idea; I tend to slip and slide and fall and hurt myself. So, as I have nothing pressing that requires me to leave home, I’ll be staying safe and warm indoors! Once the cover is coloured, my attention will go to February’s templates for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans Facebook group. Someone there has asked for some simpler templates like my dangle designs, so I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do!

K monogram

©Amge;a {prter 2-19

I wanted to start my arty day with some intricate fountain pen drawing, and this is the result.

I didn’t draw on coloured paper though. I tried on some parchment paper from Manuscript, but the ink smudged so easily…so I thought I’d try some mixed media paper from Claire Fontaine, and I still had some faint smudging, but not as much as on the parchment paper, so I worked with it, knowing that I’d be able to clean it up digitally, which is what I’ve done.

I also added a coloured background to the artwork, trying to mimic the parchment paper. I think I’m going to have to scan those papers in to create texture backgrounds I can use digitally.

I kept the monogram shape really simple, though as I look at it now there’s space inside for some embellishment – maybe a bar or two with finials or beads on, nothing fancy though. Mind you, I’d love to add gold leaf to the borders and colour to the K as well. Maybe something I can do sometime in the future, with another monogram styled like this one but without the ink smudging that I could only remove digitally.

Note to self:-
use paper that fountain pen ink will dry thoroughly on, on bleed
on and won’t smudge easily!

I enjoy the tiny, intricate drawing as well, it is something that brings a gentle smile to my being.

Oh, I did use fountain pens to draw with. I used a broad Kaweco pen for the outlines of the letter and boxes. I then used a fine point Kakuno pen by Pilot for the patterns.

Yesterday I paid a visit to a stationers in Cowbridge called The Pencil Case.

There were lots of oohs and ahhs and wows from me as I browsed around and picked up a fair selection of pens and pencils – a pink Brunnen fountain pen, a teal Faber-Castell Poly Matic 0.7 automatic pencil along with a couple of cases of 2B leads, some spiral pen/pencil grips by Tombow, an set of coloured Pentel Energel pens (12 pens in fabulous colours!), and an R2D2 fountain pen from Shaffer!

I know, I have a problem!

I had a lovely chat with the lady in the shop (whose name I’ve forgotten) about stationery, pens, drawing, teaching and so on. We also experienced a huge bang as a car collided with a big van outside the shop. We weathered the ensuing drama quite well, all things considered.

My pen stash has some lovely new additions, especially the R2D2 pen! If you didn’t know, I love Star Wars, amongst other things.

I’ll definitely be visiting The Pencil Case again, and I’ll be using the pens, fountain and Energel, to draw with alongside my other fountain pens.