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In the beginning there was sun
The start of a sun-related illness led to an intense creative period of artwork that I call my 'Red Period'. The deathly melanoma strikes not once but twice on a body already battered by the traumas of life.
MELANOMA CELL (SCIENTIFIC PHOTO)
One small beautiful looking cancerous cell creates havoc in body and mind but also leads to a period of great creativity as the mind heals the body and vice versa. Artwork as outcome of difficulty. I'm part of diversity now as I can claim the disabled moniker four times over. Although you'd never know it with unseen illness.
Not so innocent spots
The unassuming marks on a pale skin that I had grown to love as part of me. Banished now as the tell tale signs of melanoma turning ripe under the warm summer sun which was once the sacred place of all my well-being.
Cancer is at it's wicked work breaking out beneath the surface of my skin. Extent of damage is unknown as yet but a deathly body fellow none the less! Should I say parasite like all the rest?
Perpetrator's heat penetrating skin
Been here before. Same place different trauma, different detail.
The healing warmth of the outdoor space on a sunny day was once my safe haven. The back drop to my sense of survival now stolen from me by illness. Living life in a different kind of shade now. A small price to pay as escape from another near death experience.
Inflammation is heating the demolition site beneath the skin. It's getting ready to transform it into some unknown terrain that once I called my arm and leg.
One tiny breakaway cell, harbinger of death or destruction?
On the edge
Waiting, waiting, waiting with a body that lies on the edge of life before going under the surgeon's knife. Will he save me from another unknown future?
It's coming to get you! Raiding my body once more. A raid upon all raids this time. How many lives do I have left in this survival game called life? Play dead again, dead then there's no more to take from me.
To aid recovery I took up my pastels for the first time since I was eighteen. This drawing shows the cancer attacking me from within. That parasite again comes crawling from out of the deep. Those pastels, once the tools of all my dreams became my closest bed fellow. Object or subject. Which am I now?
Splits in my skin not just my soul
Dissociation brought about by a physical illness created new splits of the personality as I seek to find identity in a body that found confidence in its physicality as a means of creativity. A body that I feel has let me down. Can't dance, won't dance - no sensitivity of feeling in my limbs.
The stitching's on the ceiling
Dissociating from pain whilst the images of my body and those from inside my head are projected onto my ceiling as I lay awake on my back in bed at night. I'm unable to move so it is all about being alone with me whoever that might be now?
Sun's battle scars
The scars of burning inflammation on my body resemble an old well used cricket ball that's covered in blood not mud.
Heat of night - life battle scars
Eerie shadows of my cancerous burning skin create dark and sinister pictures upon my ceiling at night. Born out of my subconscious as I lay awake mourning my once high level of physicality. Once again I'm unable to move, petrified by an unknown fear. It's easy to be brave in the light of day even when my identity is lost at the slice of the surgeon's knife.
'Bodyscape' slab - September 2013
Left feeling like a slab of human meat that's been hacked by the knife. A surgeon's knife but could easily be a butcher's knife by the sight of me.
Slab of human flesh
Left feeling like a slab of meat - again! Object not subject by the way my body's been handled.
Images of internal cooling
The healing brings light at the end of my red hot, burning tunnel. It's cooling nature opening up scope for another bash at a life that's never really been my own. Fantasy now or reality? Is this latest experience what they call a cathartic, changing significant moment? I've had too many to notice.
I see a new landscape emerging from the shadows on the wall of my mashed up leg and arm. In the isolation of the dark of night the moving shadows transform to make new images on my bedroom ceiling. There's growth in an explosion of emotional feeling as nature's colours return to sooth me.
Shadows on my ceiling are created by playing with the light and shade as I nurture a recovering arm and leg in what should be the comfort of my own bed. Losing my body identity along with my physicality as a dance teacher turned movement therapist, leads me to an unknown terrain. No longer smooth and muscular in the body of me I remember somewhere deep in my sub-conscious. Twin peaks have formed in the skin where muscle once was but was 'mined' of its cavernous mound to aid my recovery.
There's no feeling in my butchered limbs any more. Numbness of body piles upon the numbness of mind, emotions and feeling. Strange sensations prickle me as reminders that there was once a sense of feeling. Nerve endings frazzled, stripped bare to spark off unexpectedly on touch.
A leg that was once prehensile, toes of which could pick up silk now laden with the heaviness of lead.
My healing journey continues across unknown territory.
Valley though the amscape
Twin peaks like these once occupied a space somewhere else on my body. Now my little grandson suckles the mounds that have been left on my arm when he roots for food. Will he think I am a witch if ever he knows about his little 'mistake'? Guess skin is skin to a baby even when it's misshapen.
Calm after the blazing stormwreck
The scorched earthiness of feeling grounded in my body. Summer suns give way to autumn. At home in my own body once more despite it's limitations. Strange craggy, mountainous lumps and bumps give unknown contours to the once familiar terrain made from the shadows of my body projected onto the ceiling. Scars healing well physically but inside I'm an unseen emotional wreck, made worse by comments of how well I look, a brave survivor.
Formation of new body scapes
From out of the depths came creativity as the pictures I imagine on my ceiling transform into new dusty landscapes that once belonged to 'Spanish Sister'. Split once more! A new me is dawning (spawning?) The hot landscape gives way to a dusty cooler terrain as healing takes place.
A recovering body once broken, repairs to create new, perhaps much gentler contours. A once hardened exercised muscle dies off to reveal a newfound softness. I can feel the holes where it once was, now emptied out by the surgeon's knife.
A new horizon
Out of the raging inferno rises a new horizon. Inflammation is subsiding. There's a newfound hope alongside acceptance of a different self. Time to start over! New beginning even.
Third eye peering
The deep crevasse in my skin reveals what I call fondly 'my third eye'. Does it watch the pictures on my ceiling too? Pictures of me now not the ones of how I used to be.
A new 'bodyscape' emerges
After the heat of cancer a softer 'bodyscape' emerges, still warm, still earthy. Hot but no longer erupting or flaming.
With the cooling comes acceptance of a different self. A new inner strength.
Out of darkness came light
The cooling continues. The bloodied battles within my body are dissipating. Wounds are healing, leaving very different body sensations and feelings that in time will become the new me.
The heat of the night - gone
A spirituality ascends, born out of another near death experience of the medical kind this time. Colours are changing.
The darkness of the pictures on my ceiling projected from the despair in my head gradually dissipate. Light breaks through the solid black mass that's held me in a long broken mess. There's movement. Something is shifting. Colours are returning to the images I hold in my head.
A new life is dawning
Awakening from the deep abyss of trauma. Begin again once more ... once more? ... once more?? How many times more I plead to me, myself and I as I lay awake in the hours of darkness, isolated by the solitude brought on by sickness and pain.
Out of darkness came light
A ray of daylight breaks through the gloom. Time to take myself in hand, pull up my socks so to speak. Get over it, start again. Life of a hardened survivor. Warrior (secretly would be gentle maiden given half a chance) it's time to strap the amour on. once more.
Armscape - Mountan Ridge in Darkness
Into a new unknown territory. Difference created by medical trauma has new possibilities to explore if you have the courage to walk into the mist.
Shine the way
Another new pathway to attempt in my journey to get to the top of another insurmountable mountain. A smoother terrain beckons and I'm on my way once more. Never falter, the slip-sliding back down can be fun if you use your imagination to make a new positive self-image.
New growth amid the darkness
There's new growth to be found at the summit, peeping between the darkened hills of life. I'm on my way up at last.
In the night, in darkness and on my own, feelings of confusion create new patterns on my ceiling. No longer hot and arid but cool and mysterious. Can't fool myself any more by splitting.
A trauma-related dissociation descends to overwhelm me when I am alone at home.
Out of self
I think I'm going out of my mind. Going crazy even. Where is the me I knew as me?
Video of splitting
One becomes two, then four. How do I know which one is me now?
The four splits of self I thought I could manage, multiply again and again as I run away from what scares the life out of me.
Splitting out of my head
Collage depicting the fragmentation of me. The one I knew as me from before. Now overwhelmed by crazy thinking. Who am I now? How can I escape when I can no longer run when the flight switch is flicked.
Images form and reform until I see a picture of myself in front of my eyes reforming out of the deep. Sadly images of the me I once was and no longer any possibility of becoming the me I thought I was born to be.
What's it all about?
This thing called life. What's it all about? In the darkness of night my subconscious thoughts and feelings rush to become conscious. Can I decipher the meaning in those pictures in my head that continue to be projected across my ceiling? This strange splitting of my soul.
Match Girl splitting
Trying to make sense of what's going on in my mind, I split off from my pain. My identity is frozen in some unknown space deep inside of me. Who am I? I ask myself as a survivor of who knows what.
Accepting that I need psychological help as well as medical help I go through the process of years of EMRD with a trusted therapist who knew me well.
Match appears in EMDR session
Trapped Match session dissociation
Match Girl's EMRD dissociation
Match girl dissociation in EMRD
Trapped/Match appear in the room
Over time the different splits of my soul began to appear in the therapy room during EMRD.
Trapped Match - session dissociation
Images of dissociation during EMDR
Match in EMRD session dissociation
EMRD fight session
Darkness of mind
For a long while I lost the ability to create images in my mind. The blackness eventually gave way to smidgens of colour. At first all I could see was blood - the splatters of blood that was my blood. Then gradually splatters of blood became forms and shapes that had meaning for me. Life's experiences started to make more sense. This heralded my 'Red Period' of artwork.
Out of the darkness came red
Bleed into darkness
Loosing reality of space
New Skinscapes forming
Skinscapes started to appear in my head and once again in my drawing.
View through the window
Videos captured during splitting
I think I'm going out of my head. A new set of pictures begin to form on the ceiling above my recovery bed.
Red Period - EMDR bloodied battle
Inside out isolated blackness
Inside out isolated blackness.
Bloodied darkness 1
The nothingness of a black darkened mind begins to flood with images of bright red blood - my blood.
Bloodied darkness 2
Blood and bodily fluids fuse together to add a lightness to the black and redness swirling as abstractions inside my head.
Watching blood splatter the ceiling
In the isolated darkness of my recovery room, I see blood splattering everywhere to form more inexplicable patterns on the ceiling above my bed.
Inside out isolated blackness
Red of night
Bed is burning
Three splits of me
This image represents the three splits between my mind, body and soul.
Under the grill 1
The panes of glass in the door where my images were projected during the flickering lights of the EMRD sessions became representational of my feelings of being trapped and burning in hell.
Trauma default position
Male/female body attack isolation
Portrait of despair n red
This image summed up my feelings
Red Period - Collage
Bloodied splitting collage
I began to see changing maps of my inner world that I could project onto my ceiling to gain some sort of understanding of my trauma-related dissociation process that helped me to survive. I was living either in trauma or in a strategy mode for survival
Graphic of splits of my soul 1
I could not talk about the changes that were going on inside my head. They were overwhelming and led me to believe that I was going crazy. So I drew a map to represent it all to aid my communication when words from language failed me.
Graphic splits of my soul 2
As I understood more and more about the process of slitting I continued to document my inner world in the form of a graphic representation.
Graphic splits of my soul 3
I continued to use a drawing of the map of my inner world to explain to the therapist my understanding of what was going on inside me as my inner family grew and split into more and more parts.
Graphic of splits of my soul 4
The continual development of my inner world was represented by a changing graphic map I was drawing to present to my therapist to help her understand that now there were many inner but separate, equal parts of me that made up who I thought I was.
Map of Kinesphere
I described my subconscious in dance terms. There were five different floors on which separate parts of me lived. Sometimes unbeknown to each other.
After a long process of EMRD I became frozen. Lost in an inner world that was not accepted or fully understood.
Between the bones
I felt as if I was breaking up and all the little inner parts of me were seeking hiding places in between my bones. The body hurt, the bones ached, the nerves sparked off as neuropathy took hold of me as the cancer once had.
Detail between the bones
I felt as if I had 'people' living between my bones in every part of me. They hid all over my body from the perpetrators of my life.
Self portrait in nature
I sought solace in becoming more and more grounded in nature as I discovered new ways of survival. Can't dance any more, or jump high in the air. My life took on new meaning as I lived increasingly nearer the floor (safety but not the kind of survival I needed).The vast floor spaces in which I once lived out my daily life diminished as I became confined to much smaller rooms due to unseen physical disability.
Into the unknown
The cold ice maiden I had become slid into a deeper unknown territory that was not the red hot furnace of before but one that became isolated and cold, frozen even.
Armscape at dusk
The earthy dusty landscapes I had created on my bedroom ceiling as a means to escape my illness gradually darkened as I slipped further into the depths of my own isolated inner world. I was no longer me.
Ceiling at night
The pictures on my ceiling at night became abstractions without meaning for me.
Images across her door
I tried to project the images onto my door at night so that I would not see them on my ceiling when recovering on my back in bed. Hallucinations from my troubled mind floated around in the darkness of my room.
Declared mad by an unknown judge and jury who walked all over me until I became a shadow in the dirt, worthless..
Chaos, confusion, fragmentation
Swirling out of control
Lost in an inner swirling storm
Spinning out of control
Inner spinning steals all hope of stillness to relax in any moment. The quagmire of stress draws me in.
Inside out attack.
Faces of me
Who am I now?
Bursting all my bubbles
All my artwork became frantically drawn abstractions with endless dark representation or me fragmented into splits of my soul swirling about in some unknown subconscious space. Dissolving and reforming into new emerging parts.
Trapp's barriers inside and out
Essence caught in a trap
Finding ways to escape the the aftermath of trauma that traps me and binds me to the space created inside my head. My inner cage. Who put me there? What happened that I fear coming out when there are no locks on the door? What holds me there when I know the answer is to walk away.
The inner child's drawing of trapped. Not quite the menacing picture that haunts my mind.
The divide between
I'm trapped from within by the thoughts and feelings created by trauma-related dissociation. And no I really don't have DID. It's my subconscious mind finding strategies to survive on-going and acute episodes of overwhelming complex trauma that threatens to take my life.
More splits of the soul
Artwork showing splits of the soul - the dark and light side of me.
Trio of splits
The first three major splits of all as trauma forces apart the connection between mind, soul and body.
3 Co-joined sisters
Match, Fanny and Spanish Sister, three splits of my younger self. Obviously co-joined as they are all parts of the same me - whoever I choose to be in any given moment. That's the harsh reality of complex post traumatic stress for you.
Sight of my soul
Feeling that the look on my face shows the despair going on inside. The eyes are the windows of the soul they say. Do mine have it? What do you see in my eyes? What do you see in your own eyes when I'm reflected back to you.
The ultimate (r)ejection
No words written for this one. Silence holds the moment.
More splits of the soul
The process is clearer now. I understand that I split off as a form of protection, a survival strategy to save my soul from the soul murderer.
The state of my inner self occupied by too many splits to manage without emoting into overwhelm. No words to describe this way of surviving life.
Colour returns to the overcrowded inner self self.
The space between us
The divide between me and any outside connection is too wide to reach out. The barrier too thick. I'll escape to live in the gap when I find one.
All of me held together in one safe space like a baby hugged in a mother's arms.
Lighten my laod
A supportive other contains some of the emotion as we share some safe place together. Her sanctuary is my sanctuary for a short while. This work of trauma can't be done alone.
Who can see me? Everyone and no one.
A thousand eyes tell the story
I can't find words to tell but someone inside me might be able to do it.
The darkness eventually gave way to light. Kinder on myself, there's gentleness in this surviving warrior too.
Alone with me, myself and I in a cool safe space where I can be who ever I want to be once more.
Collage to depict the ever increasing colourless images of my trauma that flooded my mind during therapeutic treatment. Ordered by someone else's process not my own.
The randomness of colour and chaotic order seeping back into my usual way of being signifies the beginning of true healing.
Picture of my family at three
Childhood artwork pre research
The bed is burning
Organic form 16
Found salvation in creating large organic forms from red earthy clay even at a young age.
Artwork at 16
Did my artwork at 16 reveal the story of what was to become of me? These large swirling shapes are reminiscent of drawings dome over 40 years later when I find courage to take up drawing in my later life after abandoning it as a form of expression and release.
The bigger the better, wild and free artwork that depicted the future chaos of me.
Keeping him in a burning bubble
Keeping her in a burning bubble