Monday, March 31, 2008

Letting People In

Here is my latest painting.

I haven't quite decided what to call it, but I am leaning towards "A Green Burial". It is a cross-section of a river and the land beside and underneath it. Your perspective would be that of a person standing in the middle of the river; somehow seeing both below and above the surface of the river; like a plate of glass was stopping the water and the land and you were viewing it as though it were a display in a museum.

I'm not quite done the picture as I want to change a couple things, but I thought I'd share anyways, because it is mostly complete. It is a bit deeper than it looks as I cut some of the bottom off because my name was on it, but that blue running along the bottom is an underground stream and there is probably another 1.5 inches along the bottom. The painting is approximately 24 inches by 36 inches.

That is not really what I wanted to write about today, but sharing this painting with you runs along the same themes of today's post: Those themes being allowing others in, letting people know me, challenging my feelings of inadequacy and my fears of embarrassing myself, and taking chances in order to meet and get to know new people.
First I want to welcome "E" here if she visits my site. I do not generally share my blog site with people I know in the real world (vs. the cyber world), but today I took a chance and gave her this blog's address. I haven't seen her in a long time and it was good to talk with her today. We both share a love of art and writing, and from my brief conversations with her it seems we both struggle with some of the same issues. Anyways, other than my friend "H", and of course on Friday, Dr. X. I have kept this part of my life very private.
I am hoping that sharing myself with others, letting people in, letting people see the real me, will do a few things:
  1. It will help me learn to take chances with people. Learn to open up and share, despite being afraid I will be a burden on others, or I will scare others, or frighten, or repel others

  2. It will be practice sharing myself with others even if I am unsure how others will react to me. This is like taking a behavioural approach to my intense fears of embarrassing myself.

Up to now this blog was fairly safe from that because of two things: I do not REALLY know the people reading my blog (although I have supportive online acquaintances and friends...and I thank each of you for your support) I think if I did become extremely embarrassed about something I said, or did, there is a sense that I have some distance, or I am not as invested in how someone I have never met reacts to me. Also, While I can walk away from my blog if I become devastatingly shy, or embarrassed, or ashamed, I will still see the people who I know personally and have shared the site with.

I guess what I am trying to say is I am practicing being the real me, in the real world...all the good, bad, mad, sad, up, down me there is. I'm taking chances and hoping it will build and strengthen my relationships with the people I know, in spite of being really fearful that I am leaving myself too open and vulnerable.

So, "E" if you came to visit today, welcome. I hope I do not scare you away with my openness. I also hope we can meet for tea or coffee one day soon. I really enjoyed talking with you today.


Polar Bear said...

I'm glad you are letting people in. I think it;s important to allow some people in. For me, that's one way to heal. I don't think it's healthy to keep everything bottled up. Everyone needs someone, maybe a couple of people, to be able to be honest and open with.

But it IS VERY hard to let people in too. Who do you trust? How do you trust? All those sorts of issues come in.

I've just returned from a session with my therapist where I talked about a few things from my past which I have never been able to discuss with anyone else. "Letting her in" as it is. And it felt quite good.

Aqua said...

I love those sessions where I am able to express thoughts, experiences and behaviours I have held inside and been afraid to share for years, or for fear I will be looked upon negatively. It always feels so cathartic to get them out of me. I am glad you were able to let your therapist in. I too believe that is a step towards healing.
Take care,

earthartist said...

I have a standing Google search for keywords such as "green burial" which is what lead me to your blog.

First of all let me say that your painting very much reflects my mental image of what a green burial is. I always said that when I die I want to have the roots grow down through my bones, your painting gives me the additional feeling that the roots of the earth will cradle my mortal remains. When you are finished please let me know - I would like to see it.

Over the last few months I have been battling severe depression. Not only could I relate to the feelings you spoke of, I have come to believe that this is NOT something unique to you or me but feelings we all share to one degree or another.
Everyone is self conscious, everyone is depressed or OCD or manic to one degree or another and sometimes it shows and other times you would never know.

Its a bit like feeling that nobody knows what it is like to be me - that somehow I am unique and therefore alone. I have developed a saying that helps put this into perspective for me.

I AM unique...just like everyone else.

And so I read your blog, felt connected and wanted to share that with you, because I have found that it is the only way I can deal with life... to share it with others even though everything inside me screams at me to isolate and go it alone.

Aqua said...

Welcome earthartist,
I am so glad you happened upon my site. I will definately post a picture of my finished painting when done. I love your saying,"I AM unique...just like everyone else". It is so poignant and respectful of both self and others. I'm sorry to hear how depressed you are. Have you sought help for the depression? If so, I hope it helps you, and if not, it may be good to get some help as I can share from my experience that ignoring it doesn't help. Share with me, share with a psychiatrist, or a therapist or all of us. Each outlet will help you help you feel less, and less isolated. Thanks for stopping in.

Dr. Shock said...

May be this is the start of a new kind of internet therapy called blog therapy?
Regards Dr Shock

jcat said...

A, you are awesome...and what you say is so true.

Sometimes I figure that the blog is almost a trial run on real life. You are putting your most intimate thoughts and self in writing. Not like a diary where you can be sure that no-one will see it, but in a forum that is open to comments and reaction. And scorn or dislike, too.

I figure that anyone who knows me could probably ID me from my blog, and conversely, anyone who reads the blog could probably track me down in RL. But you know, it's a chance I'm willing to take, because I figure that putting that intimate bit of me out there does help me in a way - makes me clarify some of my thinking in a way I probably wouldn't do if it was only written/thought to myself. And the other part is that - maybe this is arrogant - but I'd like to think that maybe someone who feels as crap as I do sometimes, and as alone and isolated from everyone in RL....maybe they will find it and know that people far away and in different worlds can care for each other and support each other. And if we can do that through our blogs, doesn't it also open us up a little bit towards letting that happen in person?

Like you giving 'E' the address?

It's a huge step, and one I am not redy to make, so I really applaud you for doing it.

Oh yeah, and I would be so so honoured, if we ever coincide geographically, to have coffee or lunch with you, and to introduce you as 'my friend Aqua who knows me all the way inside, even if she has never before seen my face...'!

And I would LOVE to have that picture hanging in my bedroom, for the sense of connectedness and belonging it conveys...


Aqua said...

Dr Shock:
I really do see this blog as an important part of my therapy, an extension of my therapy, and I hope it reaches others who arew struggling with the same issues. It really is blog therapy on many levels.

Jcat: I adore you. You are so sweet. Thank you so much for the note. I really hope one day we meet face to face. I feel like you and I are on some kind of similar cosmic shift or plane.

We seem to follow each other around in our experiences and our moods (except somehow I missed out on my version of the PT dude...what's with that?). I find it uncanny.

I really feel you know me better than most of the people I know face to face, so it would be really great to meet one day.

I say we both continue on our upward spiral, manage to maintain our good moods for a good long period of time and then make plans to meet somewhere between South Africa and Canada (somewhere warm!!!!) and have a coffee, tea...or maybe a Crantini...(bad aqua!). I look forward to that day.

BPD in OKC said...

I'm also glad you're letting people in. I have trouble letting people in too. We all need someone to be there for us.

Dr. Shock: I think I'm going to start saying that my blog is "blog therapy." Blogging does more for me than actual therapy ever did. I get everything out in my blog.

jcat said...

Crantini?? Whatever that is it sounds like it would be both delicious and lethal!
Warm sounds good...I figure a direct line would take us somewhere near the Caribbean... done! Let's go with the upward bit, and then I'll see you on a beach somewhere!

Dr. Shock said...

I am sorry you don't have to answer my questions but what is interesting is how can a blog help besides "getting it of your chest", what are the therapeutic factors. Another important topic is how can a therapist use the blog for the therapy. Especially when doing a more psychodynamic psychotherapy. For cognitive therapy with housework it is relatively easy, you can monitor the progress but with more psychodynamic therapy based on psychoanalytic principles such as transference and counter transference and defense mechanisms it is difficult to use the blog together with the therapeutic sessions.
Regards Dr Shock

jcat said...

Hi Dr Shock....will be interested to see what Aqua adds on this point, but to me, part of the therapeutic valus of blogging is in having to express myself clearly and completely - by doing that, it often makes me look more closely at what I am feeling and my reactions to it. I often find myself telling my tdoc things that I have realised because of writing the blog posts. I'd be happy for her to read it if she wanted (not my pdoc though, unless I cleaned it up a bit first!!). I think it could be useful with psychodynamic therapy too, in that it shows more of how one presents oneself to others apart from the therapist, and also highlights issues such as the defence mechanisms...which bits of you are still being hidden, even anonymously.

Aqua said...

Hi Dr Shock,
Please don't be sorry for asking questions. I find your comments and questions stimulating and often in line with things I am thinking about.

In fact since I gave my psychiatrist (he's my therapist too) my blog address I have been thinking of ways we could use it to increase our success in my therapy appointments.

I am going to write about some of my ideas in the next couple days, and I'm going to make a proposal to my pdoc to utilize my blog during therapy.

KBAB said...

beautiful painting!