Yesterday, something amazing happened.
My dad and I were at Michael’s (which for those who don’t know is an AMAZING arts and crafts store) looking at Halloween stuff. He had gone to the bathroom and I wandered over to the art section.
Familiar brands greeted me, bottles of paint and gesso beckoned me closer. Sketchpads that I’d once dreamed of owning lined the shelves in polite rows, waiting to be noticed. Dark stained easels saluted me while pearly canvases squatted in meditative silence in front of my eyes.
You see, to say that I love art is an understatement. My enthusiasm for art is a huge part of who I am.
As a matter of fact, I once dreamed of being a commercial artist. I had some success, a few fall festivals where I drew portraits, a handful of commissions, and once my work was even shown in a gallery. Most of my high school friends can still remember me sitting with a sketchpad out during lunch, drawing the people as they walked by. A few can even remember having to tell me to wash the paint off of my arms and hands before the next class or before going out.
But that was before that night. Before I was raped.
After that trauma, drawing didn’t feel like something that was mine anymore. Was it because I’d met him at a party where I was dropping off some tattoo sketches? Because the man who raped me was also a self-proclaimed artist? Or was it just that the trauma of being raped, pregnant, and then homeless was just too much to deal with and still have art in my life? I’ve never really known, but the combination of anger and sadness that I felt at the loss of my art was something that left a huge void in my life.
In the time since then, I’ve regained a portion of my creative life through writing, a discovery that has caused me a lot of joy and has become my chosen vocation. But there were times when I’d walk by an art supply aisle and feel that old ache.
Because of him, I can’t draw.
Because of what happened, I don’t deserve to paint anymore.
Even if I did do art again, it would just remind me of back then.
Today, my dad walked over to me while I was running my fingers along a sketchbook cover. He asked me why it looked like I was going to cry and I finally said it out loud. That he’d taken my art away from me, that it wasn’t something I could ever get back. That that part of me was broken.
It was like a piece of myself snapped back into place when I realized I was wrong.
Like the wonderful person he is, my dad bought me paints, a new sketchbook, and pencils without complaint. When I got home and unwrapped my pencils, I was afraid… afraid that the feeling of I don’t deserve this would come back as soon as the lead touched paper.
But I drew some circles. Then a cube. Then a cup (which is in the picture above). And I smiled because it was the most wonderful thing in the world to draw again, to connect with that part of myself and know that I’d continue to do so for as long as I wished.
No more guilt. No more anger. Just me and a pencil and the happiness of a line that is drawn well. Is my trauma completely gone? No. But it definitely lost ground today and that’s not nothing. As a matter of fact, it’s something amazing. Something I thought I’d lost and now I’ve found again, like an old friend. Something that is still so wonderful and unexpected that I suspect there aren’t any words that would do it justice.