This last weekend I attended another healing of memories workshop. A group of twenty-six of us went to a retreat center in Stellenbosh, which is about a half hour away from me. Gorgeous scenery, and a peaceful atmosphere.
This workshop was very different from the last one I went to for me. This wasn’t because the activities were different, but the people there made it different, I was of a different mindset. I’ve settled in a bit more and wasn’t so excited about going on my first healing of memories workshop. Culture shock is starting to wear off; life here is becoming normal.
One of the activities we do during the workshop to help us describe our story is draw. We are asked to create a drawing without using words to express whatever it is that we feel, and how those feelings link to our life stories, or whatever stories we want to share.
This process for me is like drawing a map. It first begins with me closing my eyes so that I can remember and imagine the place that I’m drawing, well maybe not so much imagine because I am not imagining the directions. Rather I am getting in touch with my memory. As I draw I am reminded more and more clearly of the layout, the shop on the corner, the busted light pole. Each time I look back at the map more and more I begin to see the place that Im drawing. This is exactly what happens drawing to tell a story. I am drawing directions for me to go down deeper into myself. I am drawing myself a metaphor, a picture that is so multilayered that only I can decipher. Lets be honest, when the good Lord was handing out drawing gifts he skipped over me. But the process isn’t about drawing a big beautiful picture, it is about using this blank page as emotional toilet paper, to capture what is on the inside.
Now I will describe my picture because that is a story in and of itself. Ill save my life story for another time. But when I was drawing I was thinking of me, and the way that I interact with my emotions and events in my life. In one hand I drew all of the life giving emotions that I experience, kinda looks like a bag. I drew it like that because I was thinking of traveling on a bus. And when I’m traveling on a bus I hold my bags tight to me because I don’t want anyone to play around and rob me of my bags. In the same way, I hold my life giving emotions tight. In the other hand I used darker colours to represent my life taking emotions and experiences. In that hand I am trying to throw them away from me, but they wont let me. They are wrapping around my arm.
I used all the colours from both hands to fill in my body. What that represents is all of those experiences and emotions are apart of me, they are the substance that fills me. The way they fill me is different from my head to my body. The way that my head is coloured in is nice and neat and organized. In my head I am able to rationalize and compartmentalize how I feel. But in my body in my stomach I cannot, that is why the colours mix around and are messy. In my body its no longer how I think about my feelings but how I feel my emotions out. In my body it’s a mess, in one moment I can feel the heat bubbling in my gut, from fear or anxiety and in the next moment I can experience the cooling sensation of peace or excitement. In my body is where I find the real, the real experiences, the real emotions, the real reactions.
From this explanation of my picture I then can move into the specifics about my life, about the things that I try and compartmentalize in my head, or the sh-tuff that I try and throw away but still grasps onto me.
One thing that I realized this workshop is about the name of it and process. Its called the healing of memories, but what it really is about is, healing of identity. Because it is these memories, events, circumstances and emotions that make us who we are, the process is then about not looking at the abstraction in our lives but really diving into ourselves.
A quote that I used during the weekend that expressed my journey, I found in a book that I’m reading called the Great Gatsby. “ So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” I used that because I find that as I travel forward in my life I am constantly going backwards to try to understand and bring clarity.
I am truly blessed to be able to keep going to these workshops. So until the next one, farewell!