Raw

AshleyRaw emotions. Red for ANGER. Green for ENVY. Great black looping CONFUSION. Periodic EXPLOSIONS. That’s the mask Ashley describes wearing because she believes expressing her anger is a stronger position than crying although her tears are just beneath the surface. She knows that needs to change….in a safe place…in a safe way…at a safe pace. It’s not going to happen over night, but she’s already feeling some of that safety as a peace in her inner core now that she’s entered the Lighthouse, a fifteen-month, faith-based, residential treatment program for women recovering from substance abuse issues. 

We’ve spent the last two weeks creatively exploring “the committee that meets inside your head and votes against you” otherwise known as negative self talk. We all have it. And we all have to learn, at some point or another, how to manage and reshape it so it doesn’t eat us alive. Raw or otherwise.

AngelicaAngelica, only days new to the program, didn’t bother with colored markers or paint. She grabbed a pencil and spent an hour filling the inside of her file folder with negative self talk. Around and around she wrote until there was just enough room to draw a portrait of herself “buried alive” in the acid bath of her negative self talk. I’ve never had anyone, new or old to the program, so accurately accomplish the intent of this therapeutic art activity! What fun it was to ask her if it was OK to brag on her to the other ladies. And what fun it was to see her light up as I fussed over what an accurate image she’d drawn to illustrate the corrosiveness of negative self-talk that can eat us alive if we’re not aware of it.

In and out of jail over the years, Chanel “loved to hate”. Christine has spent nine of her twenty-seven years in prison. Every time she was released she was given bus fare and put on a bus back to her “hood”, an infamous area of town known for gangs, drugs, and violence. She loves her ‘hood, but knows it’s always the path back into alcohol, drugs, another pregnancy, and jail. As hard as life has been each one is learning to identify the raw grain of truth in their negative self-talk and rewriting their often unconscious, interior monologues in a more positive voice. Sarah’s folder is a good example of that.  

MariaBut it was Maria’s image of her negative self talk that drew my attention – a downcast self portrait with two phrases, “I’m evil” and “I hate myself”. So especially heartbreaking knowing that she’d spent years involved in the raw soul corrosion of Satan worship. Although new to her faith, she was beginning to recast the negative as she drew a crucifix then adding a favorite verse. Suddenly she looked up at me and said, “I’ve gotten a horrible headache from reading the Bible.” Surprising even myself, I abruptly responded with intense firmness, “Maria, the enemy doesn’t want you to know the truth of God’s word!” My art partner Lee and I then gently laid hands on her and prayed over her. Maria laid her head down on folded arms and sobbed.

I felt a bit raw about the experience since I’m not at all inclined to see spiritual warfare in every circumstance. But this one seemed appropriate. A friend later teased, “Girl, you went Pentecostal!” Nevertheless, I was curious to know how Maria was the following week. She looked happy and light-hearted when we arrived confiding, “When you put your hands on me I felt this warmth come over me and I didn’t know whether it was Satan, or Jesus, or both fighting over me. “Well, Maria, tell me about your week. Maybe that will help us figure that out,” I offered. She continued, “Usually I’m very sensitive to others’ energy and I’ve been able to speak the words of truth I’m learning into difficult situations this week.” I’m gonna say that some of that negative self-talk got redeemed this week. What a wonderful raw sweetness.

If you’ve experienced a big shift in how you think about yourself, what was that like? If you were to draw a picture of your negative self-talk, what would your committee that votes against you look like? If you were to take the grain of truth in each statement and rewrite it, what would you say? What would your gratitude be?

 

 

1 comment to Raw

  • Erin Thomas

    But it was Maria’s image of her negative self talk that drew my attention – a downcast self portrait with two phrases, “I’m evil” and “I hate myself”. So especially heartbreaking knowing that she’d spent years involved in the raw soul corrosion of Satan worship. Although new to her faith, she was beginning to recast the negative as she drew a crucifix then adding a favorite verse. Suddenly she looked up at me and said, “I’ve gotten a horrible headache from reading the Bible.” Surprising even myself, I abruptly responded with intense firmness, “Maria, the enemy doesn’t want you to know the truth of God’s word!” My art partner Lee and I then gently laid hands on her and prayed over her. Maria laid her head down on folded arms and sobbed.

    THIS. IS. HUGE.

    This is restorative art you are helping them do, Lynn. What a gift you are to these women and to the world. I wished we lived closer, I would come and help you!!

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