The Giver, and Grief

I am currently at the American Art Therapy Association conference in Miami, spending a week talking and thinking about trauma and art.

And I’m fucking pumped about it. (Even though it’s already highly exhausting.)

Eight hours of my day today were dedicated to a workshop on Complicated Grief, Complex Trauma, and Collage. And although I am very aware of Complex Trauma, it’s interconnection with complicated grief peaked my interest.

I was never entirely fond of Collage as an artform before, and felt that it’s reliance on found imagery took away from the originality of the creation. Today I learned that it’s reliance on found imagery actually provides boundaries necessary for some of those who experience trauma to maintain while working through their grief and triggers.

So I made a collage book… and shit! It felt good!

I had forgotten about my love for visual storytelling outside of video and written word. I had forgotten about all the other times I had intended to collage “for fun” and “relaxation.” And I had forgotten how I never made time for it after that.

I was also told today that I “seem like a giver.”

And my reaction definitely wasn’t complete elation at first- on the contrary, it was nearly complete terror and almost defensiveness.

Why? Because I’ve always associated giving with weakness, with vulnerability. With things I truly fear.

But today I worked through those fears in conversation to realize another underlying hesitancy in me against accepting this title of “giver.” I remembered that I’ve always been called selfish, and stingy. I remembered all the times that people called me rude and mean and only out to “get mine,” regardless of whoever I had to knock down and out of my way.

And I told all those fears to fuck off and remember who they really are- boundaries.

Cause I am a giver.

And I’m also selfish with myself.

I have to be, otherwise I would give until my heart gave out and I ended up empty-handed and compassion-fatigued.

Which I still do sometimes.

And am trying to avoid doing now-

So I’m signing off this super short blog post this week early. I gotta retain these energy juices and keep myself in check. By next week I’ll be in yet another city and probably processing yet another realization, so for now…

I’ll ya’ll next week.

May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering

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