Have you ever walked into a class or a training or instructional setting to find that you already knew the material?
This week's group meeting was exactly this for me. I arrived a few minutes early so that I could use the bathroom and just sit and relax for a few minutes prior to the meeting. Once I sat down and saw in front of me the art materials, I sort of knew right away what we'd be working on. There were watercolors, crayons, markers, cups of water, paint brushes, glue, and two sets of plain, white flower cutouts in three sizes.
"Is this a lotus?" I asked the leader. She looked genuinely surprised that I was able to identify the project before she'd explained it to us.
"It IS!" She said.
A couple of the other ladies that were there were a bit unfamiliar with the symbolism behind the lotus, so there was a brief period of meditation/explanation before we started. Then, we were instructed to color in/put together our lotus and write a little on what the colors we chose meant to us - the meaning/significance of the lotus itself had already been discussed, and we had a very wide variety of colors/art materials to choose from to use in decorating our lotus, along with a sheet of looseleaf paper.
I should say first, that I actually did not know what a lotus flower was until joining AS in 2007. It's always been the image I'd see on the site's main page and forums page - the hands cradling a lotus. I remember looking it up and deciding that this was indeed a significant flower representing my long-time healing journey and that I'd someday get this flower tattooed on my calf (although the location is indeed negotiable, it is now dependent on the SIZE tattoo I'd like to get).
I chose for the the largest/bottom 'layer' of my lotus to be PURPLE. Purple has ALWAYS been my absolute favorite color, so it felt fitting to choose this for my 'base' color. I would later realize that purple is also the Domestic Violence awareness color. I was fully intending to recognize my survival of DV in the crafting of my lotus and to give it a 'layer' of its own rather than sharing it with my 'base' color, but have slowly come to realize that this, although it took me YEARS to realize, is the type of abuse that I have endured the longest. Eight years of DV, on top of a one-time rape at 17, and maybe 2-3 years of CSA that I cannot remember details surrounding - maybe THIS is indeed the 'big one?' Maybe it's appropriate after all, to make purple my base color - for this is the color that likely best describes me and my current struggles.
Next came the TEAL layer. Teal is the Sexual Assault awareness color. This, I've known for a while, despite just having made the recent realization about purple. I felt it appropriate to stack the teal over the purple, to represent that I've 'carried' sexual assault with me for the last two decades + two years. For a long time, this was a very, VERY heavy thing for me to carry upon my shoulders and try to heal from, all the while I was trying to raise my kids, be a mother, a wife, a homemaker. I am somewhat pleased to say that over time, it's become significantly lighter - but it is still a VERY important part of me that should indeed be recognized.
Finally, for the top layer, I chose PINK, to represent hope, healing and the love of oneself and others. I know pink is USUALLY representative of surviving/awareness of breast cancer - but like cancer, sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence - these are IMPACTFUL events in a person's life. Upon further investigation of the color pink, I've discovered that this color also represents caring, compassion and love. It stands for unconditional understanding - and is associated with giving and receiving care. Yes, this color indeed belongs on my lotus - and right on the top layer, to show that regardless of what I am already carrying, I still have the strength to heal, and at the same time, provide that unconditional love, support and empathy towards others who are trying to accomplish the same.
And pictured below - is my completed lotus. It's nothing extravagant, but I'm happy to share with you what went through my mind during the making of it. It also helps that my bedroom floors are the color of mud - after all - "the deeper the mud, the more beautiful the bloom." Unless you're me and your coloring skills leave much to be desired.
I hope this finds everyone in good spirits. I will try and update again before Thanksgiving - but JUST in case I do not - I wish you all a blessed Turkey Day. I am thankful most especially for all of the friends I have made here - the very first place I've seen such a beautiful flower, and the same place that best taught me the meaning of rising above.