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Rediscovering Art

by | Feb 15, 2022 | ACA Toolbox, ComLine

When I was a teenager, I used to spend hours in my room writing, drawing, and painting. I created little worlds on the page, one after another: Paintings of angels with sprawling butterfly wings, long horizons glowing pink and orange in the sunset, soft human figures reaching to the stars. I made multimedia art, too, gluing crumpled pages into shapes on the page. My art piled up in stacks on my desk and my sketchbook bulged, but I kept making more.

I’m not sure exactly when that stopped. It may have been when my aunt had a mental breakdown in the house, retching every morning before lapsing into yet another screaming fight with my grandmother. Or it may have been when my mom started locking herself in her room, or when I quit high school and burned my uniform skirt in the backyard. But the art supplies were all stuffed in a box, and then eventually gobbled whole by Hurricane Katrina, along with all the art I’d created. I stopped making art entirely.

Fifteen years passed before I found ACA. I had found refuge in other programs, but none of them fit me the way ACA did. I learned I was an adult child, and that I was not alone anymore. I found a home group, worked the steps with my sponsor, and started doing somatic work with a therapist. I started to reach inside to my inner child, to give her a safe place to land and be heard. I held her when she sobbed with fear and confusion. I sat beside her in her darkness with her hand clasped in mine.

A little less than a year into my ACA recovery, I bought myself a watercolor palette. As I dabbed the paint on the page, I felt something inside me begin to crack open. The False Self whispered, “You won’t be good at this,” but I ignored it and pushed forward. I rediscovered the joy that my inner teenager found in painting. Then I started to draw again. Becoming interested in art journaling, I found gluing things to the page especially cathartic, allowing myself to create whatever shapes and textures I wanted. 

Today I make art nearly every day. Whether it’s a doodle in a notebook or a painting on a canvas, I let my True Self shine through what I create. And I know without a doubt that the ACA program played a huge part of letting her finally emerge.

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