Here’s a self-portrait that I made when I was twenty-four-years old. At the time, I was working on my slim sense of self with a therapist; I was quite depressed off and on. Unfortunately, I never trusted her enough to show her my drawings. In this picture, what I notice most is my anger. My mouth is snarled and my eyes narrowed as if in criticism.The drawing also depicts my helplessness. I have no hands or legs.
Notice too that my pants had been ripped and repaired just as my body had: stitches on the outside and inside. Here is the unclothed self-portrait drawn a month earlier.
My centipede scar scampers across my abdomen, my middle bulges, and lines tick-tack-toe my chunky thighs, depicting veins. In this picture, the focus is on my middle. Unconsciously, I knew what I needed to work on–understanding my early scarring. Consciously however, I had no idea that the early medical trauma to me and my family was playing a role in my depression. So much anger coursed through my veins.
It wasn’t until I was twenty-six-years old and working with another therapist, Lee O. Johnson, that I began to own my anger. It was real and justified, but I had the wrong target–me. She helped me begin to develop compassion for and understanding of myself. She helped me save my life. Coming soon–a positive self-portrait from 1978. Blessings on Lee who died over fifteen years ago.