Taking a Memory in a New Direction
I’ve been living with PTSD for a couple of decades now, many years. Many years… There has been miles of road covered in my healing journey, at times I feel as if I have dragged my body over continents of rough terrain. I am road weary and saddle sore. I have a sense of who I could have been, if my road had been kinder. This does not grieve me as much as it used to, I don’t mourn as much, but I do get caught up in the quicksand of the past now and then. These days I know what tools to use to work myself free, even if I do drag some dirt along for a while. I have a support network to do a deep cleaning when needed.
But my trauma never truly ever leaves. It just gets rammed back into it’s footlocker faster, and I keep more cinder blocks around to pile on top. When the stink seeps out I open the windows, pull out a fresh canvas and paint till the air clears. Ahh, how clarifying. Washing the walls of my mind with ‘Spic and Span’, that excellent cleanser of bygone days. When the walls of my childhood home were turning brown from nicotine, Mother would open a box, make a batch of suds in a bucket and with some hard work (and many smoked cigarettes) she would turn those rooms from gloom to gleam! (Damn, I can turn a phrase !)
Some of us are just born ad men (and women)
Anyway, that’s what creating my art does for my broken mind. So, when this call came out, “Rise Up, Remembering 9/11” I had serious emotions bubble to the surface. My memories of that day are not of one who was there, or who lost a loved one, a family member, a daughter, son, beloved husband or wife, a dear friend or even a colleague. My memories are the memories of collective, enormous grief and horror.
How could this horror be reframed in any meaningful way? Dare I even intrude on someone else’s trauma to say how I have healed? What could I show, thru my art, that might help someone hurt one smidgen less? I have just come out of creating my most painful work to date…a painting you watched come to fruition here and on IG. That piece tore my heart out and tears are mingled in the paint. This piece was going to hurt to.
I remember sitting in the darkness of my lonely room, watching videos of the towers, before they fell. Feeling guilty for watching, but needing to see the reality of what they were experiencing. Watching them clinging to window frames as the billowing jet-fueled fires raged at their backs. I was their mother, their wife, their sister, tears pouring from my eyes, mouth open matching their silent appeals for a miracle please GodpleaseGodPLEASEGODSAVETHEM SAVEUS SAVEME!!!
Then their hand is forced by the pain, or they make their decision and leap…l e a p…into oblivion. I gasp…time seems to stand still as they let go…slowly, they fall, like beautiful leaves in a September wind, suitcoats flutter, white shirts billow, sensible shoes on beautiful bloody feet, top side up, bottoms up, arms akimbo, embracing the darkness rushing at them at terminal velocity. I am them, What do I feel? Do I feel? Will I feel? Bye Mom, bye Johnny, bye Laura…
I close my laptop, sobbing silently, drying my snotty nose on the bedclothes…I feel guilty,dirty, like I just did drugs or had sex. Was I depraved to watch that? Was it forgivable. Maybe it was like the people who watched me get beat, not calling for help, just watching. No, I could not have helped, no one could. Wait a minute…
I could help now. I could change the picture! It was like a time machine! I could send an angel! A strong, loving , beautiful angel-radiant and shining- to intercept her in midair! Because that’s what really happened, right? Yes. YES!
This is Rising Up! A New Direction!
It is a Work in Progress, and a humble beginning, but this is what I missed that day…this is what really happened…
*note* John5:28,29 this gives me comfort*