Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Backdrop

At the end of my last post, I wrote that it was the backdrop for beginning to unlock the door to healing from verbal - and other - abuse suffered during people's lives.  For me, that began in early childhood continuing on for decades..  As I pondered what I would write next, I kept remembering a scene I had witnessed in Huntsville, Ontario in 2001.  Huntsville's claim to fame is being home to Tom Thompson, a renowned landscape painter, a member of the Group of Seven. Large copies of his paintings grace many buildings in the town core.  Adding that touch of uniqueness to this small town in the Muskokas.

To the left is the statue of Tom Thompson (shown in last picture)
Artist copying a Tom Thompson painting
The artist holds a small copy of the painting he is copying in his righthand, while working on the detail using his left.  Curious tourists look on watching the work in progress.

In a copy, the copyist merely commits to a different canvas or backdrop what the artist has already created.  The first step is to have the backdrop, the plain, unvarnished canvas.

The work begins as a rough, very rough, piece.  Ideas mostly.  Or a picture in the mind of what the artist wants the finished work to look like.

First, the artist fills in the background, the predominate colours.  Details come later becoming finer and finer as the piece nears completion.

Writing is like that.  Only with words.  Not colour.  The challenge is to make the writing come alive with vibrant colours that impact the reader.

My canvas for this blog starts as a blank page.  The rough ideas coming and being blocked out on the page piece by piece.  First the backdrop, the theme.    Then the detail gets fleshed in word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph.

Today, my backdrop, my primary colour is one type of key.  The skeleton key.  A large brass or bronze key stripped to its basic elements which could open any door.  Details will come at other times in other blogs.

In 2005, I was on the final contract of a series of contracts which had lasted over two years.  The situation, for me, had soured in the workplace.  My manager ignored me.  Or gave me mixed messages:  "You're awesome at .... BUT."  Being naive I focussed on the the first part, not the BUT. not realizing that my manager was simple using the first part, the good part, to get to the BUT.  My contract was ending.  Most people in my office thought I was full-time because I'd been there so long, was good, helpful, well-liked, always ready to lend a hand, teach people something they didn't know.  I was forbidden to tell anyone that I was on contract.  I was also forbidden to ask about the status of my contract being told that it wouldn't be decided until the last minute. It was a very stressful working environment for me.  In the end, being fantastic wasn't good enough.  Being well-liked wasn't good enough.  Nothing I did was good enough.  When the end came, it was quick and brutal.  Handled like a firing with cause rather than a contract end (not normal procedure for this company), I was walked out.  Forbidden to say good-bye to my co-workers.  A huge piece of my life ripped out in a few short minutes.  Left like yesterday's garbage at the back door of the plant.

Pain, disbelief, doubt flooded in.  I needed help to work through all these strong feelings.  I turned to a counsellor I had seen for years.  She turned abusive.  People I turned to for encouragement and support were uncomfortable hearing my pain.  So often, I would find a listening ear only to hear that person pronounce:  "You need to move on."  I was left with the feeling of being judged and found wanting once again.  I wanted to move on, to get past the hurt and pain that was seasoning my life, but  no one told me how to.  I was stuck in a world of hurt that went on and on.  No one was walking beside me on a consistent basis at this time.  I felt well and truly alone.  This went on for 18 months.  I kept on with the counsellor.  Many times I would leave a session with her feeling like I needed a second session to deal with the first one.  Unsettled.  I consistently came away with more questions rather than fewer.  Feeling more and more depressed.  More worthless, rather than less.  If I used a word she didn't like, she pounced on it and wouldn't let go.  Many times, I was told that I was the one in error.

My final session with this counsellor was a nightmare.  I had a definite place I wanted to go, something I wanted to explore.  But we never got there as the counsellor picked up on one word, one thought, pounced on it, wouldn't let go.  I was crying.  Distraught.  Devastated.  But no matter, the counsellor wouldn't give up.  Wouldn't stop.  For about a nano second, I thought of getting up and walking out but I felt emotionally paralyzed.  Frightened.  What would happen if I did that?  I was afraid.  I was controlled by this woman, her thoughts, her opinions, her world view instead of exploring and creating my own.  Finally, the session was over.  I escaped.  I waited outside the building to be picked up as a family member had needed the car that morning.  I was glad.  I was in no shape to drive.  The building was a block off a major street in our town.  Everything in me wanted to walk that block and step in front of a passing vehicle.  To finally end it all.  Everything in me wanted to end the constant, omnipresent, over powering pain, the suffering, the constant barrage of being judged, never being good enough.  I was unable to talk.  Arriving home, I went to my bed, curled up in the fetal position.  I couldn't stop crying.  A family member was in the house.  Scarred out of her wits for me.  Not knowing how to help, what to do.

That night, everyone in my nuclear family, husband, children, one in-law, made their decision.  I was not to go back to this counsellor.  I still felt that I was the one who was the problem.  I was the one in the wrong.  I felt that I would not be facing up to things if I walked away.

One person in the small group, though, said "I will help you find another counsellor."

This has been draining.  Reliving this experience.  Feeling again the pain and devastation it brought.  It has taken more time, more energy than I thought to paint in the backdrop.   Therefore today,  I will end with the primary colour blatantly splashed across the once blank canvas.  The raw details.

Please bear with me as I create this painting with words.
Statue of Tom Thompson

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