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Draw what bubbles up

I was 25 years old, lying in sand by the Pacific Ocean. I had come to the sea to kill myself, depressed again after so many years of trying to make my life work since my suicide attempt at age 21. But I just couldn’t bring myself to harm; I had grown. So I drew words that bubbled up from nowhere. From somewhere. Pain from long ago. Ancient hurt buried until that moment where water meets shore and life called–a baby’s cry in early morning hours.

Pre-verbal trauma cannot be remembered in words. Perhaps that’s why this message came in a word picture, if you will.  There are many ways to release early pain if the brain does not get in the way. The brain that says, oh that happened so long ago, or you couldn’t possibly have felt that! That memory brain didn’t realize that it was shut off while the trauma was occurring. A different part of the brain recorded the experience, and talking and writing don’t access it. They can point the way to trauma, but they don’t release it.

Draw the story. Draw the message. Draw whatever it is that bubbles up. Begin the healing process.

0 Responses to Draw what bubbles up

  1. This post is very timely for me! I have recently starting keeping a mandala journal. Instead of filling a page or two with words, I draw a big circle on the page, and fill it with whatever images may come. Over the last week, I have watched the saddest, most vulnerable memories come easily in the language of dreams and symbols, so beautifully expressed in image. I found words to be a challenge, not necessarily the process of language, but the culture of dictation, words as a means to hurt, to control, to predict, to construct ideas/beliefs that are too informed by the reality I am trying to transcend. Words are so wonderful, and we need them! But they can limit me simply because I can control them. The images are channeled from a different less cognitive place. My mandala journal has changed the way I journal and I am learning so much about my narrative, my story, my wounds. Yes, Draw the story. Draw the message. Thank you Wendy!

    • What an inspiring response, thank you! Wow, a mandala journal–how I’d like to see it! Must be awesome. Isn’t it amazing to see what comes up when you put your pen to paper and draw? About writing–freewriting is the closest I come to being able to circumvent the need to “control,” “predict,” and “construct.” Freewriting (a la Peter Elbow and Natalie Goldberg) helps me to override the censor and the controller. With pre-verbal or really early trauma, however, drawing and somatic work are, for me, the most effective routes through which to revisit a wound and heal. Thank you for sharing your experience with mandalas. You are inspiring me to bring more artwork into my daily journaling.

  2. This post is very timely for me! I have recently starting keeping a mandala journal. Instead of filling a page or two with words, I draw a big circle on the page, and fill it with whatever images may come. Over the last week, I have watched the saddest, most vulnerable memories come easily in the language of dreams and symbols, so beautifully expressed in image. I found words to be a challenge, not necessarily the process of language, but the culture of dictation, words as a means to hurt, to control, to predict, to construct ideas/beliefs that are too informed by the reality I am trying to transcend. Words are so wonderful, and we need them! But they can limit me simply because I can control them. The images are channeled from a different less cognitive place. My mandala journal has changed the way I journal and I am learning so much about my narrative, my story, my wounds. Yes, Draw the story. Draw the message. Thank you Wendy!

    • What an inspiring response, thank you! Wow, a mandala journal–how I’d like to see it! Must be awesome. Isn’t it amazing to see what comes up when you put your pen to paper and draw? About writing–freewriting is the closest I come to being able to circumvent the need to “control,” “predict,” and “construct.” Freewriting (a la Peter Elbow and Natalie Goldberg) helps me to override the censor and the controller. With pre-verbal or really early trauma, however, drawing and somatic work are, for me, the most effective routes through which to revisit a wound and heal. Thank you for sharing your experience with mandalas. You are inspiring me to bring more artwork into my daily journaling.

    • What is a “circle mandala thought shield for protection”? Sounds powerful. And yes, noticing and pondering what animals cross my path in a day is always a fertile musing yielding insights. We are sister spirits. Remember the birds we saw and heard singing and talking?

    • What is a “circle mandala thought shield for protection”? Sounds powerful. And yes, noticing and pondering what animals cross my path in a day is always a fertile musing yielding insights. We are sister spirits. Remember the birds we saw and heard singing and talking?

  3. I loved everything about this post. And it couldn’t have felt more apt for me too. Just today I uploaded a (rather rushed) post about how I have been embracing releasing trauma through things other than words. Your drawing – how beautiful. And how powerful too. I’m loving drawing out my inner angsts and doubts as cartoon characters (on my blog too, if you need inspiration). I felt a real relief to hear that the reason you went to the ocean that day changed once you got there, because of your growth. I cannot tell you how heart warming and reassuring that felt to read, so thankyou. As a suicide survivor myself, I have an anxiety & worry so much that I will do it again. Not because I want to, just because (as a someone told me a few months back) once you have done it, it will always be something you have in your mind as something you are capable of. That will never go away. But, I believe there is also so much more you can take from it to. It shows what you are capable of: your strength to get through it. Your determination and will to live, and grow.
    Keep shining, and drawing. Big love. X

  4. I loved everything about this post. And it couldn’t have felt more apt for me too. Just today I uploaded a (rather rushed) post about how I have been embracing releasing trauma through things other than words. Your drawing – how beautiful. And how powerful too. I’m loving drawing out my inner angsts and doubts as cartoon characters (on my blog too, if you need inspiration). I felt a real relief to hear that the reason you went to the ocean that day changed once you got there, because of your growth. I cannot tell you how heart warming and reassuring that felt to read, so thankyou. As a suicide survivor myself, I have an anxiety & worry so much that I will do it again. Not because I want to, just because (as a someone told me a few months back) once you have done it, it will always be something you have in your mind as something you are capable of. That will never go away. But, I believe there is also so much more you can take from it to. It shows what you are capable of: your strength to get through it. Your determination and will to live, and grow.
    Keep shining, and drawing. Big love. X

  5. Thank you for your wishes and your appreciations! Yes, drawing is freedom! Initially though, when those images came up, they confused me. Looking back, I see they were words from my baby self. They were picture-words letting me know the source of my suffering. At that time, I didn’t trust my therapist enough to show her the drawings and get help from her. Thankfully I hung in there just the same, seeking answers, and found a different therapist to help me shortly after drawing the picture in my blog. About what someone said about what you are always capable of–I think that what we are capable of changes over time. I believe you are just as capable of not trying to kill yourself. I don’t think anything is “always.” It’s true that for many years after my suicide attempt at age 21, I didn’t trust myself. Yes, it was possible to return to that place of doing harm. But then by age 25, I’d moved on and didn’t even know it. I was no longer “capable” of trying to kill myself 🙂 Love back at you and hugs.

  6. Thank you for your wishes and your appreciations! Yes, drawing is freedom! Initially though, when those images came up, they confused me. Looking back, I see they were words from my baby self. They were picture-words letting me know the source of my suffering. At that time, I didn’t trust my therapist enough to show her the drawings and get help from her. Thankfully I hung in there just the same, seeking answers, and found a different therapist to help me shortly after drawing the picture in my blog. About what someone said about what you are always capable of–I think that what we are capable of changes over time. I believe you are just as capable of not trying to kill yourself. I don’t think anything is “always.” It’s true that for many years after my suicide attempt at age 21, I didn’t trust myself. Yes, it was possible to return to that place of doing harm. But then by age 25, I’d moved on and didn’t even know it. I was no longer “capable” of trying to kill myself 🙂 Love back at you and hugs.

  7. What a wonderful post – and then those Comments! Wow! So personal, richly insightful, similar and yet unique. Thank you Wendy and your correspondents for what you’ve shared here.
    Whether it’s because I’m male or a different personality with a different background, I’ve never found it easy to be creative and imaginative. Which makes it perhaps even more fascinating to be with you on that beach (I also find the ocean so therapeutic!), and to relate your drawing and Liza’s mandala journalling to each of your inner pain and healing. I understand and am envious, even as I gravitate by nature towards my own “technical” approach to my own healing – to know, understand and explain.
    I’m so glad Wendy, that you’ve moved along so far from the dark days of your early 20s and that we can enjoy and learn from each other on our journey.

  8. What a wonderful post – and then those Comments! Wow! So personal, richly insightful, similar and yet unique. Thank you Wendy and your correspondents for what you’ve shared here.
    Whether it’s because I’m male or a different personality with a different background, I’ve never found it easy to be creative and imaginative. Which makes it perhaps even more fascinating to be with you on that beach (I also find the ocean so therapeutic!), and to relate your drawing and Liza’s mandala journalling to each of your inner pain and healing. I understand and am envious, even as I gravitate by nature towards my own “technical” approach to my own healing – to know, understand and explain.
    I’m so glad Wendy, that you’ve moved along so far from the dark days of your early 20s and that we can enjoy and learn from each other on our journey.

  9. Yes, art truly saved me. Art and hundreds of folks–from friends who helped me through those rough 20s to medical doctors, nurses, researchers, parents and more who saved me as a baby with pyloric stenosis. I am grateful to be here, walking with you on this path to understanding and wholeness. btw, I suspect that your uneasiness with creativity may be due to one of those “states not traits”–a byproduct of trauma not personality or talent. In my view, you are an extremely imaginative person and creative in your writing.

  10. Yes, art truly saved me. Art and hundreds of folks–from friends who helped me through those rough 20s to medical doctors, nurses, researchers, parents and more who saved me as a baby with pyloric stenosis. I am grateful to be here, walking with you on this path to understanding and wholeness. btw, I suspect that your uneasiness with creativity may be due to one of those “states not traits”–a byproduct of trauma not personality or talent. In my view, you are an extremely imaginative person and creative in your writing.

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