I felt like a black cloud hoarding, becoming thicker and thicker at the end of motivated work during the lockdown.
I imagined myself stepping back and noticing myself as if from the outside. Then I asked where this unwelcome feeling was coming from. My memory flashed to an incident when my father pushing back my hand when I tried to hold his. This moment taught me not to reach out to others for affection.
As the pain of this memory stung me one more time, I recognized that, thanks to the art therapy lesson I watched, I wasn’t resumed with the pain it caused.
I pulled out a piece of paper and acrylic paints. I chose the ochre and another dark brown to represent my painful memory, and I began frantically brushing the colors in a swirling movement. It was surprising that the effect of this old wound still crippled me to be judged as an aloof person.
Now, I’m happy to say I have found a way to deal with its residue and release it little by little. As I filled my paper with that unpleasant memory and feelings associated with it rigorously, the intensity of my pain subsided. It felt as though gentle wind started blowing the darkest of clouds, and space began to open in my mind.
For the first time since my memory formed, I began putting myself in my father’s shoes. Imagining what it must have been like for him. The fact that he was a stepbrother of nine siblings and his stepfather being a tough policeman with stiff orders. And when he married my mother at a young age, they had six children and worked hard to put food on the table.
As these details filled my mind, it was as if I had some potion of an empathy pill. Most importantly, now, as an adult, I’m not that helpless kid begging for affection anymore.
As a fully grown, successful career woman, I brought another replay of the moment that had been played thousands of times before into my mind. I imagined reaching out to that hurt little kid, smiling to her warmly. And I told her, “Sometimes, grown-ups have their worst days too. It’s not you. It could have been anyone in their path in that particular day.”
As my eyes began opening to this different take on my pain, I even felt some sympathy for my father. It was time to let this scene go and repaint it with another scene.
In the next paper, I chose blue, teal green, and orange. To me, these are my kind of happy colors, full of depth and chill vibes, expressing those times I was chill and happy with my father. With these alternative colors, I began repainting my memory with my new found understanding.
Thank goodness, I don’t have to live with those same old colors again.