Butterfly WIP

I’ve been experiencing a tummy bug the last day or two and so have had to take time away to rest and take care of myself. It’s making me feel very tired, though I do have a little appetite back, which is good.

I started work on this butterfly yesterday morning, and have continued this morning. I think I’ve spent about 5 hours on it so far.

It’s giving me a chance to explore and familiarise myself with features of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro I’ve not used much. Tools such as the selection tool and different types of layers, for instance.

The butterfly is definitely not finished; I’m trying out ways to add pattern to the various sections on the wings. I’ll get there eventually I’m sure. At the moment I’m adding entangled/zentangle patterns to the sections using a ‘glow’ layer. Not sure if it’s working, yet. But I’ll keep trying things out until I’m happy.

But not today. I still need to take some time out for self-care. That means cwtching up, keeping warm, drinking plenty of fluids, and cross-stitching while binge-watching Criminal Minds! Maybe I’ll even see if I can do some reading too – I have a couple of books about Craftivism I want to read and digest.

Talking of craftivism, I do need to order some knitting/crochet yarn made of natural fibres to create some butterflies with for a yarn bombing project I’ve volunteered to help with. My yarn stash consists of yarn made of synthetic fibres.

Oh, back to the cross-stitch thing.

I used to cross-stitch years, and years ago, quite avidly. I always avowed that I’d never take it up again. However, as I searched for books on craftivism, a cross-stitch book popped up that was just way too intriguing! So, I ordered the book and some materials to cross stitch with.

The materials arrived yesterday, but the book won’t be here until tomorrow. So, I did a quick hunt around Etsy and found a cross-stitch project or two that were perfect! Both were quite simple, small, and had words and images and would work so well for craftivism as well. I do need quite small, fairly quickly finished projects in terms of needle felting, crochet, or cross stitch at least. When it comes to drawing, art, I can work happily on a piece for a long time quite happily. But not so with other crafts it seems.

Perhaps the satisfaction at finishing a craft project quickly gives me that little hit of achievement that helps me push through with projects, like this butterfly, that will take me a number of days to complete.

Even though I’ve left therapy, my healing continues bit by bit. I’m finding myself returning to crafts and activities that I once enjoyed, but as the CPTSD worsened and depression deepened I abandoned them

I am someone who needs variety in my artistic, crafty life, so I’m embracing this as much as I can. I need a change from time to time, and that change allows a freshening up of my other skills/talents. Doing different techniques adds new ideas for my artistic pursuits too.

So, I’m now going to sort myself out and settle down to finish the cross-stitch thingy I’m doing. And let my body recover from the tummy bug.

Heal

Heal - Artwork by Angela Porter at Artwyrd.com
Heal – Artwork by Angela Porter at Artwyrd.com

About the art.

I don’t know who said these words, but they resonated with me when I stumbled upon them. Not only did they resonate, but they also brought tears to my eyes and my heart too. I have words for one of my goals for recovery from cPTSD. This is why I had to do something with the quote in my own inimitable style.

So, I took the words and chose a pretty font for them, arranged them as I wished and then printed them out onto acid-free paper. I trimmed the paper to approx 21cm x 21cm and added some pencil guidelines for space around the quote and the edge of the paper.

Next, I used Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens to draw a design. I stuck to just a few motifs that I repeated to fill the space. I also let the design elements to spill over the pencil margins here and there to give a more organic feel to the artwork.

Finally, after erasing the pencil lines, I scanned the drawing in, increased the contrast a little to remove most of the remaining pencil marks. I then added a grungy, colourful, autumnal background.

I’m pleased with this one. I really like the way the Fudenosuke pens work for me now. I love the variation of line and the bolder line that I have used. I also think that using just a few design elements and repeating them to fill the space results in a more cohesive design.

I think I could have left a bit more space around the quote; however, it is good enough.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

And for me to say something is good enough is a sign that I am recovering from a bad day yesterday. I’m still somewhat emotionally fragile and vulnerable, but I’m able to see that my art is good enough.

Yesterday, nothing I did was good enough. I lost faith in my crochet, my digital art, my drawing. Nothing seemed to work out, and I really was doubting my abilities.

EMDR therapy for my cPTSD was rather distressing and left me exhausted. Mind you, I was exhausted to begin with. Monday I wore my protective mask as I had to go somewhere where I’d be with people I didn’t know, doing something I was really anxious about, and I didn’t know the place I was going to. I was exhausted after keeping my mask on for just four or so hours.

How on earth did I find the energy to keep the mask up for all those years? 

One good thing has come from this experience – I can see how exhausting it is to keep up a mask for even a short time. I wonder how on earth I managed it for most of my life!

Anyway, after EMDR, I was more exhausted and came home and slept. In the evening, I thought I needed to be creative. It all led to me being hard and overly critical of myself. Little comments made to me just made it worse, even though the comments weren’t negative, my emotionally vulnerable and exhausted state twisted them that way.

Even though I was emotionally vulnerable and caught up in a storm of thoughts and feelings, I was still aware of this contentedness inside me, but I just couldn’t anchor myself fully to it. I was a little bit adrift in the turbulent waters of my emotions and thoughts.

I should know by now that I need to choose what activities I do carefully at times like this. Last night, I didn’t do that. However, I eventually got back to sleep, and I woke this morning feeling more content.

There’s not quite the sunshine within present today; there are still some emotional clouds covering it up. However, I know that they will not persist and will move along as I practice self-soothing and self-care and do creative activities that won’t push me too much and won’t engage the inner critics.

I’m still drained, physically, mentally and emotionally, but I am in a better place today. I think my drawing above shows that too.

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.

Be Brave -Entangled Art WIP 24/06/19

Be Brave - Entangled Art WIP 24/06/19 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Be Brave – Entangled Art WIP 24/06/19 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

This morning I’ve done a little more work on this artwork. I’ve spent around 2 hours, so that’s a total of around 13 hours so far.

As usual, I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to complete this work digitally. As always, they’re a pleasure to use.

So, Angela, how are you doing today?

I’m ok today. I slept well last night and woke feeling refreshed. I’m about to get myself sorted to head out for my weekly EMDR therapy session.

I’ve not done the adulting I need to do sooner rather than later. I’ll sneak up on myself to do it soon, just not NOW.

Other than that, I’m quite content and wondering what EMDR will bring today. I know we’re working on a memory from my childhood and the emotions and beliefs about myself from then. It seemed quite an innocuous memory, but it was a lot more distressing than I thought. Not the single memory but the layers and layers of repeated incidences of a similar kind of thing throughout my life.

It’s part of the tangled web entangled around my painful self-conscious ways.

It’s always surprising to me how I’ve minimised how events have affected me and pushed them aside into the big box full of unprocessed traumas.

That box is gradually emptying. As this memory may be the root of many other instances where it’s emotional trauma has been re-experienced and reinforced then processing this one means the rest are as well.

Friday Dangle Design, anti-stigma talks, CPTSD and emotional hangovers.

Dangle design 15 March 2019 © Angela Porter
Dangle design 15 March 2019 © Angela Porter

I officially have a post-therapy and post trio of antistigma talks emotional hangover/headache.

I’m so tired today. Headachy. Feeling quite sad. Finding focus is difficult.

A big, big mug of strong Yorkshire tea, clementine segments, banana and some French bread with butter and marmalade is being had for breakfast.

I was so tired when I got home yesterday from the last anti-stigma talk of this week that I ordered in pizza and garlic mushrooms. I watched most of Attack of the Clones while beginning to crochet a market bag. And when I felt I could sleep I went to bed.

To find that I couldn’t sleep, not straight away. My mind was still way too busy.

So, I thought I’d sit in bed and do a little drawing, which is the one above.

I knew today would be Friday, so I added some really simple dangles to the bottom of it for dangle day.

I used my R2-D2 Sheaffer fountain pen on some Claire-Fontaine mixed media paper. I have managed to smudge the ink in some places.

However, this did let me settle down to sleep. It was a meditative practice for me, if not mindfulness meditation itself. No matter what, it helped me calm and quieten my mind so I could sleep.

The anti-stigma talks have a part that is about Time to Change Wales, a bit about stigma and discrimination and mental illness, and the main part is my story of mental illness and how stigma and discrimination has affected me.

Self-stigma has always been the worst for me. What others would say to me such as ‘just pull yourself together’ or ‘don’t be such a misery’ or suggesting that I have a lot going for me in my life and I shouldn’t feel the way I was the same as I was telling myself. In fact, I talked to myself worse than what others could say.

I was really resistant to the idea that I had problems with mental and emotional wellbeing.

“It’s been a long, busy term. I’ll be fine after the holidays.”
“We’ve got an inspection coming up, it’s really busy.”
“I had that difficult pupil again today and it just wore me down, I’ll be ok”.
“I’m not crazy.”
“I’m not weak.”
“I’m not mad.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me that a weekend won’t fix.”

That was, and still is me to a lesser extent. Always trying to put a brave face on how I’m feeling. Trying to hide behind a mask of smiles and laughter and competency. Doing my best not to be a bother to anyone, not to worry anyone. Not wanting anyone to think I was lying/attention-seeking/making a fuss over nothing.

Always denying I had a problem. Until I could deny it no more.

That happened in steps.

Being physically confronted by two pupils led to me receiving counselling for the first time and with me finally admitting some things about grooming in my past, not only to the counsellor, but to myself.

Counselling kept me in my job. When it ended, the decline in my mental health resumed and continued until I had to have 8 months off from work, accept anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication to give my brain a break from the constant worrying, thinking, panicking it was doing.

One of the hardest things I had to do was to admit to myself I needed help. Not just admit, but accept that help.

Talking about my childhood, where those patterns of thoughts, the very negative, critical thoughts and beliefs I have about myself have come from. Not talking in depth, mind you, just touching the surface of it. This is emotionally draining for me. It awakens emotions in me that are only just surfacing and being recognised through EMDR therapy.

Yesterday, I wrote a post about why I do these talks. Today, I’m writing about the aftermath of the talks.

The aftermath won’t ever stop me from doing the talks. I can cope with it. I need a day or two of self-care (and ice-cream).

Self-care is doing things that are familiar, that calm me and bring me pleasure. So that’s art, crochet, Star Wars, ice-cream with a friend. It’s quiet time for myself, without the pressures of people. It’s sleeping when I need to sleep. My body isn’t tired, but my emotions and mind are. They need time to rest and recuperate.

And that just doesn’t apply to me, a CPTSD survivor on a healing journey towards recovery. It applies to each and every single person.

Me. You. Everyone.

We all have mental health. We all have emotional health. We all need to take care of them as much as we do our physical health.

Just as we seek help if we have a problem with our physical health, such as taking a painkiller for a headache, surgery for appendicitis, dental work for teeth problems, a cast for a broken bone, chemotherapy for cancer, then we also need to seek help if we’re having problems with our emotional and mental health.

There’s no stigma attached to having a physical illness. But there is with mental and emotional illnesses and problems. There should not be.

It’s about being kind to ourselves. Learning how to be kind to ourselves. Taking that time to give our minds and emotions a break. That’s what self-love is. It’s kindness to ourselves.

Something I never learned in childhood. All I learned was that I was unworthy, useless, stupid, ugly, fat, unloveable, a failure, an embarrassment, the reason everything went wrong.

I’ve lived most of my life believing that was so, trying to prove it wasn’t and to earn the love and respect of someone who is incapable of love and respect – a narcissistic mother. Not only her, but so many others in my life.

It’s never too late to do something to help myself have a better relationship with myself in the first instance. That’s what EMDR is helping me with.

If my talks help others recognise some of the same things in themselves, workout that their relationship with themselves, that their mental and emotional health isn’t good, and they determine to seek help when they’re ready, then every day of this emotional tiredness/hangover/headachyness is absolutely worth it.

Friday Flutterby

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

I thought I’d dig through my image archives today and I found this charming butterfly, or flutterby as I sometimes refer to them.

It’s one of my early pieces of digital drawing that I was happy with and it was done on my first Surface – a Surface Book – back in 2016, I think it was.

I drew the flutterby using a Microsoft Surface Pen and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and the original image is black and white with some greyscale shading. Today, I thought it would be nice to add some rainbow colours to the butterfly and a textured background too. So I have done.

I also have realised that this flutterby would make a nice focal point for a dangle design. Maybe I’ll have a go at doing that later on.

I’m still reeling from EMDR on Monday, still not found my balance point. It’s been a week of self-care. I am getting better, bit by bit, but this was a surprisingly tough session.

As I reflect on it, it’s interesting that I chose to post a butterfly today as butterflies are seen symbolic of transformation. But it’s also interesting that I chose to take a greyscale drawing and add a brightly coloured rainbow to it, as well as adding a textured and slightly coloured background.

I think I’ve lived my life mostly in greyscale. Not my art, though I do tend to enjoy drawing black and white line art a lot, but when I do use colour I do tend to go for really bright colours.

No, I mean my life, my emotional life particularly. All shades of grey and black.

I am in my fifties now and I’d like to think that I’ll be able to live a more colourful life for the rest of my human existence.

Perhaps this butterfly is one of those intuitive messages that’s telling me I am transforming into someone who does have a rainbow of emotions, is able to see them now. Maybe it’s telling me I’m transforming as I heal from cPTSD too.

EMDR does turn me into a chrysalis from the caterpillar I’ve been in life – a chrysalis that needs rest and time to complete that transformation, and when ready, the butterfly emerges, colourfully resplendent, able to fly and soar… the potential that was inside the caterpillar all the time now realised.

Soggy Sunday Afternoon…

Self-love, journal writing and letter writing to heal.

It’s been a while since I last blogged something.

Life has been both interesting and uninteresting.  I’ve had a lot of thinking to do, a lot of ‘down time’ has been needed to recover from the emotional stresses and strains of my working life.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading, the latest books are about using a journal as a method of self-love and healing oneself from the events of the past.  Something I need to do.

I have kept a journal for many years now, and I do vent and rant in it and find my way to some kind of clarity.  I have become a little disheartened at times as I seem to end up ranting about the same things over and over.  The books I have read ( Writing to Heal by Jacqui Malpass and Journalution: Journal writing to heal your life and manifest your dreams by Sandy Grason) have shown me that this isn’t a problem, that it may take many times through the same thing to come to clarity, forgiveness (of self and others) and to let go and move on.  In other words, I need to be kinder to myself and not be such an overachieving perfectionist!  And I mean that kindly

My plans for my journal today are to make a list of people who I need to write letters to for the hurts done to me in the past (even if such hurt and pain was not their intent) and to people I’ve not had ‘completion’ with. These letters that will never be sent but will allow me to let out of myself the anger, fear, hate, upset, disappointment and so on, and work my way towards forgiving them and myself.

I’ve swallowed down hurt and upset and anger and fear and so many more emotions with copious quantities of food.  The emotional reactions have been locked away, though they burst out at times, quite explosively at times, and it scares me that this ‘ice maiden’ has such energetic emotions.  I’ve spent a lifetime of nearly fifty years suppressing my feelings, not sharing how I feel with others for fear of rejection, embarrassment  conflict, hatred.  I’m not good at putting into words what I think and feel if I’m upset in anyway.  I am, however, much better at writing things down, as shown in my journaling of the past decade or so.

I won’t keep the letters either.  I’m going to burn each one as it’s finished.  If I need to return to the same person or group of people over and over again to clear things up for me, then I will do so.  I will keep doing this until I can write a letter that forgives them, and one that forgives me too.

Some of the letters may be apologies for the way I behaved.  I do have a tendency to cut people off, dead, if they upset me or betray me in any way.  To keep myself safe, I walk away, ignore them when they are around.  If I’m expected to work with them I can be cold and short with my words, protecting myself with such a thick wall of icy feelings and icy words.

This is kind of a scary thing to do.  It’s not the first time I’ve tried this, but this time has the feeling of ‘the time is now’ about it.  Pennies have dropped about the purpose of the letter writing, of letting out all the things I’ve kept bottled up for years inside me in a controlled manner, the writing being the control.

Art

Art has been pretty much on hold as I struggle with the idea that I deserve to love myself, finding out what self-love and self-esteem are all about, and just letting ideas filter through the conscious to the unconscious mind.  Inspiration for art has been, maybe not lacking, but put on the back burner for a while.  However, there are some creations, some that are works in progress, others that are finished pieces.Rising above the pale©AngelaPorter2013

Tangled Border © Angela Porter 2013

Across the divide WIP © Angela Porter 2013

Abstract May#1 © Angela Porter 2013

Abstract May#2 © Angela Porter 2013