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Painting pictures with words



I don't know why I didn't come back here sooner - it's amazing how a few chats with folk who 'get it' without judgement can help you feel less alone - and so many of you are fighting your own battles and need a friend to sit with. 

In my first blog entry I mentioned how writing is, for me, like picking up a brush to paint a picture. The words are my colours, and today there's going to be less black in the picture. Over the last few days, the world has looked a bit more colourful. The 'Trauma Train' (described in my last entry) has stopped off at the AS rest stop and is now rumbling along through greener territory, a few birds are singing and the weather is brighter. I'm pleased to be here in my private space with my brushes, palette and canvas - painting away with a calmer head. 

The first part of my picture shows me in my wheelchair, ready to slide into my local swimming pool like a seal, and then I'm gliding through the water with freedom I don't have on land. The taste of chlorine leaks through the big grin on my face and the pool water hides and absorbs a lot of tears that have been trapped for far too long. All because the pool managers changed their policy and now allow folk on wheels to take their freedom machines to the poolside. Having to wait for a member of staff to wheel you from the changing room to the pool in a little white chair was a crap idea. Being told that you're a health and safety hazard makes you feel like shit. But their new policy (finally!) helps people like me feel welcome and allows us dignity and independence while we're there. They have a booking system while Covid is being an arse, so I'm booked in for tomorrow afternoon, my swimming bag is packed and, to my surprise, my swimming costume still fits. 👍 

The second part of my picture is me with my laptop, piosed to type the story through my 20s that brought me to AS. I typed my story for this forum a while back, but I'll be typing it with 44 year old fingers this time. The 44 year old me who wears a different head to the 'me' who typed it out a couple of years ago has new memories from that time, fresh revelations and a different outlook on how and why it all happened. I'm facing the memories with new, frightening emotions I'm learning to regulate and I'm desperate to be able to look at them without being pulled back to the past. My trauma therapist suggested the idea yesterday, and from lived experience I know how much it can help. Over the next four weeks we'll focus on the timeline - two years at a time. I'll show her the pictures I paint, and as the weeks pass I'm hoping to be able to look at the pictures painted by my 44 year old fingers and see them through 44 year old eyeballs. That's the thing - while all the memories are jumbled in my head, all I can do is see them through the eyes I had back then. Getting the most updated version out on my computer screen could help me see the spider web weaved by 'him', and how I got trapped in it. 

It's time to put my paintbrushes down, carefully cover this particular canvas, and open my laptop to paint my story with 44 year old fingers. 


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I'm so happy you have been feeling the colour- its sounds amazing by your words.

I also can completely relate to you in regards to writing your story and how it may change over time. I've written my story multiple times for myself over the past 8 years. When I look back on my entries from when I was 16 vs now, they tell very different stories. At first,  I would look back at what I wrote and feel embarrassed and mad that I was so deluded. Or, I would be scared the the "me now" was just warping the story to fit a narrative. Of course, thats not true. We grow and so do our perspectives and our stories. I look back on what wrote when I was 17 and see that its not "wrong", it's just a piece of the picture. Taken alone, my story through the eyes of my 17 year old self is not accurate, but taken with all of my stories, it shows the truth and the complexities that reside in our trauma. 

It can be scary to go back through an experience and see that your perspective has changed but trust your truth and your strength! You got this  💜

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@Haze_D - thank you so much! I've been writing a reply to you I'm my head (on this post and your own blog entry) for days... but I can't find words that explain how much your words have helped get some colour on my pictures. Your reply to my reply on your own blog made me cry! In a good way. Your honesty and your courage to share your own picture with words helped me admit some truths to myself for the first time - but most of all, it was good to know you have this forum to express how you feel and get support in return. 

Your reply here about writing your story is spot on. It doesn't have to be written once does it, and now I'm a few pages into writing mine for the second time I can see how vital it is to revisit it with a different head on your shoulders. We learn a lot as the years go by don't we, gathering new memories, insights and coping mechanisms along the way. It's also quite a revelation to be writing it with new emotions! Typing those words out is helping me link these difficult emotions with the past, rather than with present day situations and people. It's helping me widen my tolerance window in situations now, and learn to cope with challenging emotions that my head (and the abusers) wouldn't let me feel or express in my past. It's definitely helping me see the timeline of it all as well - and for the first time I can see typed evidence on my screen that proves it wasn't my fault. Both you and I could never be held responsible for anything we went through, while we were caught in the spiderwebs weaved for us. How can you see a web that's pretty much invisible as you're flying towards it, and escape from it all wouldn't have been an option because spiders are clever little shits and their webs are strong. 

But we did escape! We escaped the situations, but now we're negotiating our way round a different web - the aftermath. But we're also on the valued invention that is the world wide web (terrible pun but it seems apt), chatting to AS friends who know, from lived experience, how frightening and dangerous spiders can be. 

Haze, I sincerely wish you as many peaceful times as possible where you feel valued, cared for and understood. Whatever is happening during your aftermath, do know that you're stronger than any spider that caused you harm. You've been through so much and you're still flying. 🦋

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I've just thought of something else linked with the 'painting a picture' analogy and writing the story from your past. Has anyone ever tried those (at times frustrating) 'paint by numbers' kits? Typing my story with a 44 year old head on and all these new emotions has, finally, given me a line drawing where the numbers match the colour codes.

Over the last few months, while I've been struggling to manage all these new emotions, fresh memories and trying to understand the memories I already have, I've been trying to work out how to add paint to a picture of my world now with colour codes that don't match. The computer screen in front of me, while I type my story for the second time, is a line drawing with countless tiny little spaces holding a number, and every time I find one, it matches the code. The picture is evolving, giving me the chance to see it for what it is - rather than a confusing jumble of lines and spaces that are tough to understand.

It takes a long time to complete a 'paint by numbers' picture doesn't it, and all of us here certainly have a thick book of them don't we. "Take your time, one colour at a time." That's what my mum always said when I struggled to complete the kits I'd get for Christmas when I was a kid. Good advice then and helpful advice now. 

Edited by LisaButterfly
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Thank you Lisa for your kind words ❤️ I'm so happy you are finding the colours you need to paint this picture. You're right, we are strong f*ckin butterflies and their webs are no match for us now!! We may get tangled up here and there but we'll always make it through and be stronger for it. 

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