A survivor of childhood trauma and abuse used therapeutic artwork to give expression to the terrible experience of psychological collapse after the birth of her first child.
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The early months of my baby son’s life are an undulating terrain of unknowns, uncertainty combined with moments of utter serenity and knowing each other. For a little while the gravitational pull between us can be perfectly balanced and very, very close.
Inside of me, deep down, is a hidden part – the small child I was – just like the small child I now hold. I give my son daylight but the little me remains hidden, protected, in the dark. She is safe there.
The pain is becoming too much, why can’t I be a better mother? Why can’t I be normal? Everything inside of me is broken and it’s going to erupt. I am so afraid but I am so tired. I cannot live with this shame much longer.
The fear and chaos is slipping out, I didn’t mean it to, where is it going? I cannot control it, I cannot hold it. What is inside of me belongs to something monstrous and massive my brain cannot contain it.
I am exploding. But I don’t care. I’m too tired to care. It has to come out – all the fear, rage, shame. I don’t want my son to feel this part of me, he deserves better.
I am an infant beside my son, I want to be wrapped up safe and loved but I am not. Inside of me is pain and confusion, I do not want that to hurt my son.
“Dark City” The world inside of me is chaotic, dark, unpredictable. There is a sense of my past overwhelming me, of buildings full of memories that hurt and confuse.
“All of Me in Glass” There exist within me so many ‘me’s’: the chaos, the infant, the adult without child and the mother I am now. I am finding my colours, my warmth with my son, he loves me and he needs me and I can be safe. But how do I take the other me’s and put them in here where there is light and love? How do I tame the chaos?
“Babushkas” There is adult me, child me and chaos me – chaos is my heart. Inside of me is an endless, mind-crushing blackness. I am fragmented.
“Lying Together” In this moment, when he is sleeping and I wrap myself around him, it is just the two of us, there is no past, there is only now.
“I Love You” I have my own world and past but I have a new world and future with my son. The most important part of this new world is love, I love him and he trusts me. It was so hard to keep my own pain at bay and just be in the moment with my son.
There is a flow between parts of me that are integrated. I was fragmented but now I know parts of me have the potential to rejoin the whole. More fragments might come together, what will it be like when they do?