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Shame and Chronic Illness

left side Last Lullaby fmaI posted a new art piece called The Last Lullaby but I didn't want to talk too much about how difficult it was to get through that art piece. I felt ashamed and embarrassed by the chronic illnesses that were the driving force behind the art. I was a little more open here on the blog, but on Flickr and Etsy I didn't want to go into details because I didn't want to sound like I was harping on my physical and mental health.

I didn't want to hear that I feel sorry for myself. I didn't want to hear how I should pick up my boot straps or that I shouldn't let this situation get me down. .... It doesn't get me down, it nearly breaks me.

So what did I really want to say about the final piece in the Lullaby Collection? Nearly every stroke was excruciating. I wanted to talk about the anger and the exhaustion as I waited for the next treatment and that I painted just to keep myself sane. As I sit here writing, I remember how bad it was. I remember thinking it wasn't worth living anymore and that if I could get down one flight of stairs and to the street I'd walk in front of a truck and end this craziness. Sleepless night after sleeplessness night, throwing up, headaches, spasms like childbirth. It was a time of nothing short of survival from minute to minute. I remember joking and saying I needed to drink more water because I cried so much I could dehydrate myself. It was torture and it seemed like forever.

steel 1I remember this bedroom being transformed into a hospital room. My bedroom of mauve and cream with butterflies and dried roses became a loathsome place, a place where depression took root. This bed is where paintings like Roses for Jane were created, Kindred, and the painting A Little While Longer. All but one of the art pieces in the Featured Art Gallery were created while in bed, waiting for treatment. Every dad-blasted stroke took more than I felt I had to give but to not do it was worse. So I sketched and drew and kept on until time for treatment. I feel like I lost a part of myself during that time, a part that I didn't get back. How can a person tortured come out with everything they entered with? I didn't.

A lady I met on Flickr sparked this entry because she reminded me that Frida Kahlo did a lot of art work in bed. It was right then that I knew I wanted to speak up and say, me too. Frida's story of pain early on makes you cringe. I mean dang, that's not right, that's some serious pain that included emotional pain. Who blames her for painting in bed? Who has a lack of respect for her work that focuses on the torture she and her body suffered together at such a young age? No one. As a matter of fact she's all but worshiped. And yet I fear giving the true story behind some of my art. No. Not gonna work.

Many, many people worry about being criticized for not being another person's kind of strong. I do too. I'm just as susceptible to criticism and being told I need to move along and get over it. No one wants to hear that.

Young Faith AustinHere is what I'm going to tell myself. I'll be strong when I'm strong but when I'm weak I've got to learn to allow it, not be ashamed of it and not be silenced by it. This is my life we're talking about...sometimes screaming about, most of the time painting about. My life, like many others, has its ups and deep downs. And my life, like many others, is lived from minute to minute, sometimes with desperation, other times with joy. I'm just like the woman next door. I'm just a person, a human. I'm still evolving as an artist, still evolving as a person. If I ever stop growing then surely that's the day I stop breathing. I feel I have more control over personal growth as long as I keep negative outside influences, outside.

Thank you to the young woman who sparked this train of thought and this entry.

Jordan

No need to feel nervous, comment if you'd like.

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