If I Could Paint with Blood . . .

I thought this would be a nice follow-up to the last article, although the painting is more metaphor than symbolism.

After I remembered the sexual abuse, but before I remembered ritual abuse, I worked a lot with self-hypnosis. It  told me nothing new about my past but it helped me deal with the feelings about the abuse that had been buried so long. That was okay; I wasn’t looking for more information. I was trying to absorb what I already had learned, which was far more than I ever wanted to know.

An early phrase that came up was “If I could write with blood…” which meant, or I thought it meant, was that the intensity of writing in blood would drive home the meaning of what I wanted to communicate. Like taking somebody by the shoulders, shaking them, and yelling, “Listen to me!!!” At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to say, I just knew I wanted a really powerful way of expressing myself.

A few days later I took out pencil and watercolors and started sketching my hand. It was as if the painting painted itself — it was like one of those coloring books from my childhood where you went over the page with a wet brush and a picture magically appeared. (I loved those coloring books — wonder if they are still available.) My mind was blank as I did this. The image flowed from my unconscious and my chatty little inner critic was silent for once.

I have never cut my wrists, and so there are no scars. But I was painting a scar — saying that my pain was so great that I wanted to, or could have, or might just as well have tried to kill myself. And the red? Is it blood, or flames, or both? I didn’t know then and I don’t know now. But it surely signifies injury and pain, and surely is intense.

Painting on my wrist is telling, and the real scars, from real self-injury, that many of us carry are an even more intense, compelling way of telling. It is so sad that people cannot understand what we are saying, or even that we are trying to communicate something deep and awful. Even at times we ourselves cannot understand that we are trying to talk about what happened to us. We have to find a way to translate our actions into words, and then we can make sense of why we hurt ourselves and forgive ourselves for trying to speak in the only way we had at the time.