I promised you a positive self-portrait. Here it is!
As I wrote about in “Angry at 24” two blog posts ago, at age 26, my therapist Lee helped me acknowledge my anger and, perhaps most importantly, my grief. She helped me to give myself permission to cry over the early operation and all the sadness it brought to my family. I had been holding the tears in all those years. The surgeon had told my mother after the surgery that if I cried, I’d die, so by golly, I wasn’t ever going to cry again. It was too risky. When I opened up to crying, I began to heal. The tears were a welcome relief. Depression became a way of the past.
When I drew this picture, I had been working with Lee for about four years. At the time, I wanted to make a job change from house cleaning to something more meaningful. She suggested that I draw the careers that might be of interest to me since I had been making art for several years. The pictures included me as a child psychologist, a children’s book writer and illustrator, and a pre-school teacher. I chose the latter and taught for over eight years. Then I decided I wanted to teach writing to adults and went back to college at age 38 to complete my undergraduate degree in English and then my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. What a great journey!
Now I’m making another change. I’d like to move into the field of medical humanities. I don’t know how, but I’m making steps. This summer, for example, I am going to teach a class in my home. Each student will write about a medical issue she is grappling with or has grappled with in the past. Each student will discover a form that will hold the material, whether it be poetry, fiction, memoir, journal, or a mix of genres. The idea is to bring the issue into a community of people writing and to use writing as a tool to work with the issue. My goal as teacher is to help students gain insight into the meaning that this illness or condition holds in their lives. In this way, self-understanding is transformational. Look for upcoming details about the class!