That Was Then And This Is Now
April 16, 2015 § 6 Comments
Those words I learned from my wonderful therapist back in the early ’90’s. One of the many tools she gave me to right the wrong-thinking going on in my brain from long ago trauma. Yes, it really did happen Then – the past, but this is Now – the present, and it isn’t happening to me now, only my brain is firing as if it is, creating those body responses again.
Facing change, even good change that I’ve wanted and have visualized for some years and is now finally upon me,
can be a little is frickin scary.
If you’ve never tried making a collage to see what you want or to ease an anxiety, I highly recommend it. All you need is a few old magazines, scissors, a Glue Stik, and Scotch brand “Removable Tape” (which really is – no tears, no tears) – in the blue plaid box.
NOTE: These images are all copyrighted I’m sure. I’m using them for my own personal use not for resale – though publishing them here on my blog without permission for reuse or credit is a breech of ©. I don’t even remember the magazines I ripped them from. Some were ads, some in articles. My apologies and heartfelt thanks to photographers, sculptors, illustrators, and designers in magazines everywhere.
HOW TO: By cutting or tearing out images and words, either with a theme in mind or simply what catches your eye, you create puzzle pieces to arrange in a way that please you.
The tape keeps them in place to see how you like them together before committing to gluing them down. Usually I have a larger piece of paper to glue them to. The images in this photo are glued to each other in layers. You can find a frame at a thrift store or garage sale to protect the collage or have it laminated at a copy place.
I wrote to my friend Christine with the stressful details of a couple days and she wrote back it sounded like I’m afraid of the change. We talked on the phone about it while she shuffled the Medicine Cards by David Carson, then randomly drew one for me. It was Deer = Gentleness, but the card was upside down, reversed, meaning I was courting my fears! with negative self-talk. This gave me a theme and one image to look for as I leafed through magazines.
Over the course of three days I created the arrangement above. What initially felt like doom and gloom inside me magically softened and evolved before my eyes into an understanding – a healing, actually. What I only had emotion for before, I can easily verbalize now as a new story through the metaphors the images spark.
This collage has meaning for me. It’s a powerful image to see on the wall at a glance. It might not mean anything to someone else, or may even repel them for reasons only that person could know. But what matters most is what it means to me, the calm that it brings, the reminder to stand for-by-with myself, to treat myself first and always with gentleness.
By now probably every man, woman, and child on the planet has experienced some kind of trauma or knows a friend or loved one who has (or still is). What scientists now know about how the brain works they knew little of twenty, thirty years ago. This book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. is an important one.
It’s easy to read and understand, too, as if Dr. Kolk were sitting with a cup of coffee at your kitchen table telling you stories from his work day. Published by Viking in 2014 – I was surprised to be on a wait list for it. Now I know why. It helps connect the dots and fill in the blanks that trauma often creates. It certainly does for me.
It’s been many years since my last therapy visit, so it was exciting to read at the top of page 47, “…with a therapist, her biological responses might become muted, so that she could realize and remember that “that was then and this is now,” rather than reliving the experience over and over.”
TIP: Be gentle with yourself today. xo – Pierr