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I started out on this page feeling churned up, wishing I could be more present and connected to my here and now family.

I’m glad I have the tool of visual expression.

I am grateful to Alice Miller’s work about how our bodies alert us and the gift of bearing witness to its memories.

I’m also thankful to Marshall Rosenberg for describing the model of self-empathy.

As an empowered adult, my mind knows in theory that whenever memories spring up they point me to needs that are alive in me right now.

However, one limitation I have found with nonviolent communication is that my body can resist putting its feelings into words. That’s where I’m finding art journaling to be so beautiful.

I’m also thankful to Connie at dirtyfootprintsstudio.com for offering her approach to Julia Child’s ‘morning pages’.

Connie suggests a box of crayons and a blank page. Today, churned up and uneasy, I found colour and lines could flow where words didn’t want to.

And along the way, words did come out with the crayons. There were furrowed dark eyebrows from my early years and then came a record player. On the record, I found myself writing many of the cruel labels from childhood that can still whirl around in my head when I most want some peace!

Then came the crayons swirling again over the top of those taunts. Then the words ‘I can hear music’ replaced the spot where brooding eyes had been frowning.

Relief.

I think this is my heart offering me unconditional understanding and reassurance. Yes, the verbal and physical violence were painful and my body mourns.

And yes, I am also safe now to hear and savour the music of life around me now – my children, their dad, my own wisdom.

I feel such quiet peace and presence right now, discovering yet again that the understanding, compassion and reassurance I need is right here with me, anytime. And I am so feeling so tender about why these inner gifts of safety and peace can be hard for me and others to access at times.

I am also grateful for the ’empathy buddies’ I have welcomed into my life.

I am celebrating that as an adult, I choose my own mentors and companions who understand, inspire and empower me to keep finding inner safety and to grow the honest compassion with which I want to respond to myself, my children, my partner and my workmates.

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I hope every adult in this world can find deeper compassion and understanding for themselves, inspired by knowing that kindness towards ourselves is the surest way to end the cycle of family violence.

Is drawing or painting whatever comes to your page a gift you can offer yourself now?