Recently I discovered a collection of old artwork in my parents’ garage, from the time I was in the 7th grade up to post high school. As I paged through the collection of design doodles, sketches, and design projects I remember catching myself smiling on several occasions. My smile turned to tears as a wave of emotion overcame me. I felt like I had discovered the belongings of a beloved who had died years ago. It was rediscovering a piece of myself that I had discarded, due to much insecurity about my creative abilities, due to fear, and due to the chronic unhappiness I found myself in for ten years.
Additionally, God ordained that I bump into an old school friend, who to my wonderment and delight had become an art teacher and curator. She mentioned one line that struck me deeply: “Sr. Valerian (our art teacher) would always give you that sticker on your art for excellent work! You and Sarah were the “Art Girls” at school. “ I was intrigued by this, as I had never thought of myself as an “art girl”, and certainly didn’t think that whatever skill I possessed was worth much. This perspective from my old school friend, and stumbling upon my art collection sparked in me a renewed desire to create. And so I tentatively begun the project of completing a painting I have not touched in about 15 years.
I remember being someone who was always moved by beauty. Sometimes I would behold a piece of art, and be so overwhelmed and awestruck by the rich colour, composition or detail, that I had the desire to consume it. I don’t quite know how to explain what I mean, but the closest analogy would be to somewhat eat it! However, after marrying and moving abroad, all passion left me. I was in a type of depression that numbed me to responding with the previous intensity I had had. I would sometimes come across a photograph of myself wandering in the souq of Damascus, and noticed my wide smile and the twinkle in my eye. That intense feeling and sensorial experience of life left me during my married years, and I am now determined to find her again. More so, I am determined to find the uninhibited child within that is so worthy of acceptance and love.
One creative idea led to another. I experimented with painting on bark for a children’s programme to which I contributed. Then I was curious about working with pen and ink and went on to enter an art shop which I had not done in at least a decade and a half, and proceeded to purchase a sketch pad, inks, and brushes. On a Saturday morning, my son away with my parents, I turned on some classical sitar music that always moves me, and began my first ink drawing. At least three times I was overcome with a wave of emotion, unexpectedly, and instead of resisting it, I allowed it to wash over me. I allowed myself to cry, all the while drawing and painting. Was it the way the blue, red and yellow so easily blended with each other that evoked the emotion? Was it the combination of music, presence, and the concentrated movement of my hand that did it? I don’t know, but I thought back to the thick of my divorce, the severely low emotions I experienced, and the suicidal thoughts that sporadically entered my mind. Disclaimer: My faith protects me from ever actually seriously considering taking my own life, but I certainly thought of it. I would fantasise the reaction of people hearing about my death. I felt wholly, and utterly worthless. Apart from the nursing and care for my son, I felt I had absolutely no value, and was incapable of giving to anyone else in this world. I thought I would be better off dead. This world was a type of hell, and I would rather be dead. Recalling those thoughts and dark emotions whilst creating beauty struck a nerve within. The floodgate of tears was let loose: I am able to create beauty. I have value and worth. I am glad I am not dead. Life is beautiful. I can create beauty if I choose it.
Unplanned, and unexpectedly, a drawing session on a Saturday morning turned out to be a therapeutic session. I was gratefully aware of how far I had come in my healing journey, just over a year since my divorce. In fact, more and more, day by day, I am in tremendous gratitude to God for aiding me on this journey. More than ever, I see that He has always supported me. He has always taken care of me. His love, mercy, and all the positivity He has created are always within my reach. My heart feels full when I think of the beautiful, intimate relationships I have in my life, my healthy and fit body, the ability to now sing, dance, paint, and enjoy. He has given me so much. So much. I realise I am out of the woods, and am moved by gratitude.