I’ve really not been myself the past few days. With a couple of busy days this week, the emotional fallout from EMDR on Tuesday finally caught up with me as I slowed down Thursday afternoon. I’m so tired, and my mood isn’t the brightest to say the least.
It’s always a sign that even when I’m tired I can usually draw and create, but not much this week. I haven’t been able to find the inspiration to draw, nor have I found the interest or energy.
Today, around a meeting, I managed to draw this.
It’s a throwback to the more familiar art of earlier days. It has given me a chance to use some new motifs, as well as some favourite ones that crop up often.
The process of drawing was soothing, and I did my very best not to be too judgemental, though I did want to throw it out and restart several times as I wasn’t at all happy with what was coming out of the nib of my fountain pens or Uniball Unipins.
I switched to the Uniballs as the fountain pen ink was smudging lightly. I’ve fixed that, mostly, by digital wizardry. I also added the Distress Ink background digitally.
I know my inspiration and energy to draw will return, I’m just not feeling at all myself at the moment.
I do have a new self-care activity, which is sitting in/on the bed, crocheting shawls and listening to audiobooks – currently working my way through the Harry Potter series.
The rhythmic nature of crocheting is soothing. The familiarity of the Harry Potter story is also soothing. Being upstairs makes me feel safe, secure and it’s also comforting.
The memory being worked on in EMDR certainly has stirred some stuff up. I’ve had some very upsetting insights into how I’ve viewed myself. Releasing the trauma associated with this particular memory will be accompanied by a better view of myself. I may not fully believe it, but if I can believe a little of it then that is good enough for now.
I have to believe that with each memory and its associated traumatic experiences that are processed via EMDR I’ll believe the healthier, more positive statements about myself more and more.
These are some quotes I’ve found recently that are helpful to me in understanding me, helping me through this.
Trauma creates changes you don’t chose. Healing is about creating change that you do choose.
What happened to you was not your fault. The struggles you have today, like your cPTSD symptoms, are a normal response to abnormal events. So, please be kind to yourself.
The poison leaves bit by bit, not all at once. Be patient. You are healing.
Yesterday I had some fun drawing some postcard sized pieces of Entangled art. Especially fun as I stumbled across a book I’d bought some years ago and had forgotten about. The book is “Zibu – The power of angelic symbology” by Debbie Zylstra Almstedt.
As it says, the book contains loads of symbols with different meanings and I think that’s what drew me to the book in the first place. It was nice to stumble upon it and it seemed to be a moment of synchronicity as I was thinking about what I could put on the postcards, so this was perfect!
Transition was the first symbol I turned to, particularly symbolic for me as I’m going through a transition via my CPTSD healing journey. And in the book, the author suggests aquamarine and green are colours that go with this particular symbol, so that’s the choice of my colour scheme.
I drew the design on an A6 sized piece of Bristol Board using Sheaffer and Pilot medium point pens. After scanning the design in I coloured it digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio.
I found both the drawing and colouring rather peaceful processes, the colouring made more so as I wanted to stick to the green and aquamarine colour scheme, though I did sneak in some greyish blue and greenish yellow.
It won’t be long before I head off to Neath for my weekly EMDR session. The day is gloriously sunny and is due to be rather warm for a late winter day. I’ve a window or two open to let the fresh but cool air into my home. This weather certainly does lift my spirits somewhat. I plan to go early so I can have a walk around before my appointment later this afternoon, as well as a leisurely lunch with some journaling and drawing too.
Francine Shapiro is the person who developed EMDR therapy and this quote from her exemplifies what I’ve becoming more and more aware of through my three and a half years of EMDR.
Today, I am really ‘not with it’ and feeling quite spacey and vague and very tired. I had a broken night’s sleep with very, very weird and disturbing dreams. This often happens after EMDR.
I know that I need some self-care time today, and maybe tomorrow given how I’m presently feeling. I’m also in need of a walk outside, but I’m awaiting a delivery from Amazon. I hope it arrives soon so I can get a walk in early this afternoon.
There were two particularly significant moments during my session yesterday.
The first one was a result of a suggestion by my therapist that I’m keeping secrets about things that have happened to me, particularly in my adult life. There are things I’m too, too ashamed and embarrassed about to talk about even with her. My throat closes up and becomes painful. I feel burning in my cheeks. There’s terror and huge anxiety in the pit of my stomach. She went on to say that in the article she had read it was suggested that clients write about these experiences. She suggested I do that. She added she did not need to read them or be told about them, that she can act as a ‘blind therapist’ where we just assign a code to the particular traumatic event and work with it that way. She even suggested I can burn the things I write after writing them so no one else can ever read them.
The relief I felt with this suggestion and discussion was immense. The discussion that ensued was enlightening in another way. That I’ve never ever really spoken to anyone about my feelings, especially when I was the one upset, hurt, abused in some way. I always put a smiley, brave face on and brushed all the emotions to one side, defaulting to the happy, funny, quick to laugh, person who chatters about faff and fluff.
By pushing away all that hurt and upset and so on I’ve also tried to tell myself that it’s ok, I can cope with this, that I’m incredibly caring about other people and their feelings and want them to be happy. Scared that if I spoke truly about how I was feeling that I would be rejected or that the other person(s) would become angry and would hate me and think badly of me.
So, instead, I brushed it all aside and swallowed it down, often with food, using the food to fill the emptiness within me, to hide the feelings of shame and fear and more. I’ve done this so much in my past that I’m having to learn what emotions feel like and what they are called as they crop up during EMDR.
I was with my older sister and younger brother visiting the British Museum and we stumbled upon the Sutton Hoo treasures. I was entranced by them, only having seem them previously in books. It was hard work to drag me away from the to go visit the mummies in the Egyptology section. My older sister said she’d never seen me so emotional and excited about something; she actually called me an ice maiden as I rarely showed any emotion at all, other than the happy, smiley, funny persona I put across. I was in my twenties then. No idea of emotions or how to express them, swallowing them down all the time.
So, writing about these experiences now, from a position where I understand more about myself, am more aware of emotions and feelings will mean that they are no longer secret, it doesn’t matter that others don’t know about them, but it’s important that I don’t keep secrets from myself and face up to the traumas and feelings I have suppressed from these events.
The second insight was during EMDR when I had a vision of myself looking into one of those mirrors that reflects things to infinity, but in this case it was like the reflections went around and around in a circle. The insight was that this is what has happened to me. I’ve got caught in a cycle of the same kind of things happening again and again – different but the same effects on me, the trauma they’ve caused me and continue to cause me as instead of knowing how to process them in a healthy manner I learned from a very young age to suppress anything I needed to talk about or needed help with because I was upset as no one wanted to know. I was bothersome. A whiner. An attention seeker. A liar. When I was upset the people supposed to care got angry with me. Or just ignored me. Or sent me away.
I am unaware of much of my past, particularly my childhood. I have few memories at all. That bothers me, but my therapist tells me I need to let it just be. People like me, who’ve had quite traumatic lives, often forget what has happened to them as a way of protecting themselves from that particular trauma, especially when there is no one they can talk to about it to help them work through it.
My past really does affect my present. However, I’m becoming more aware of the ways in which it has affected me, more aware that I do have emotions, and I’m trying to believe I deserve to think better of myself, that maybe I didn’t deserve any of this, and that although I’ve allowed things to happen to me I shouldn’t be so hard on myself as I need to understand why, what brought me to that point, why I can’t say ‘no’ easily.
So the quote is very appropriate.
About the art
This is very much a work in progress at the moment.
I printed out the quote and borders on Bristol Board. The design is a little less than A5 in size (4.5″ x 7.25″ approx). Then, I added the patterns around it using two Pilot Kakuno fountain pens – one with a medium nib and one with a broad pen.
After scanning the design in, I wanted to add colour to it, so I used my trusty trio – Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
I think the dark stars at the top could symbolise those parts of me I’d like to ignite after they were extinguished a long, long time ago – confidence, self esteem, the ability to say no, valuing myself, being a good friend to myself, and more …
The tangled nature of the design, with many parts seeming to blend one into another, sometimes not in a very comfortable manner, is like all the trauma and experiences I have had – a tangled mess where I pull on one thing in EMDR and a whole host of others come along with it, all linked by a common effect or effects they had on me.
Flowers blooming, leaves all signs of growth though, even if some are hidden at the moment.
I’m sure there’s more that could be said about it in terms of my journey of recovery from cPTSD along with developing mental and emotional wellbeing. However, not today as the chap from Amazon has delivered the parcels to me. In them are some basic things for me to try my hand at paper quilling.
I’ve been fascinated with some youtube videos on paper quilling, particularly the more modern forms and I was also struck at how some of them seem to be similar to my kind of drawing that has lots of spirals and swirls in it. So, I thought I’d have a go and see what I can do with it!
But first, it’s time for a walk … to see if that can help clear my head a little. I think a little trip to Barry Sidings is in order.
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.
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.