Visions

Title: Solace
Dimensions: 56 in. x 47 in.
Medium: Pastel
Date created: April 2023

Narrative:
Dark, alone, and at peace.
I finally found quiet. No one here and nothing around.
Sitting along the side of the road near the dead end.
No one knew where I was, and in some ways, no one cared.
There’s an unsteadiness. To stay here or to come back, the only path I know to get here is self-destruction. If I leave, there's no guarantee I'll find this place again.
Or, I can try to stay here now, forever.
I’ve wanted to arrive at this place for so long, but now I don’t think I can stay. Whatever I decide, I’ll know the peace of privacy.
- - -
I had isolated myself, and I was relieved in some ways. The peace sitting with the vision outweighed the pain from my alcohol use and withdrawal.
Being honest with myself, I accepted a couple of final outcomes and was ready to make a decision about what to do next.
Back in the kitchen, where I sat alone, I thought of my husband’s recent caution of us being on a dangerous precipice. He spoke plainly, like the vision.
A day or two later, I chose to stop drinking. Since July 14, 2020, I’ve unexpectedly stayed connected to that vision through meditation. It initially provided me with the motivation to venture onto a sober path despite its unknowns and to protect my serenity as each moment has passed.
Title: The Centering Rod / (Ode to) Equanimity
Dimensions: 32 in. x 36 in.
Medium: Pastel
Date created: May 2023

Narrative:
This focal rod took shape mentally during my first month of living sober as I stabilized myself emotionally and physically. Through this exercise I wanted to capture reverberations similar to those that I saw and felt in early recovery.
As my self-worth and self-trust gradually grew, I was able to look at more stimuli in my life and decide whether my current responses to them were productive or healthy. Stimuli included temporary thoughts and feelings, dynamics with others, others' decisions made outside of my control, and temporary comforts. I could also see how ultimately they were not my strongest sources of stability and remembered that my guiding rod was formed from my intuition and sobriety.
To see many of the aspects in my life more clearly, as they stand relative to my focus and how things connect, has made it easier to sense a balance or when I feel off balance.
Through the process of this drawing, I aimed to respect the line, the intimacy of drawing, and the balance of the composition. Also, the challenge of executing the lighter strokes reminded me of the challenge of remaining self-compassionate when seeking to create and maintain a more balanced life.
Title: The Shift from People-Pleasing
Dimensions: ~ 40 in. x 42 in.
Medium: Pastel
Date created: May 2023

Narrative:
This is a feeling-vision that surfaced during my first month of living sober. While sorting out and centering myself in an unprecedented way, I started to create a protected mental space between me and every other person when socializing. In an ongoing effort to adjust my behaviors that contribute to people-pleasing, I've consistently relied on this space to stay centered. Sometimes I envision it to give myself more space and time to sit with my intuition, to consider the other person's motivations, to see their expressed behaviors more clearly, and to decide whether I want to respond to their comments or actions.
In keeping an "arm's length" in front of my mind and another person, I'm able to protect my pacing in each social moment, less influenced by someone else's pace, motivations, or opinions. The darkness towards the other person in the distance serves as a reminder that another person's influence will most likely have a dizzying or destabilizing effect on me if I don't first sit in my peace (represented in the foreground in the lighter areas).
My intuition is the greatest influence on my decision-making, and the lightness keeps me open-minded to new data when listening to someone else. The darker corners towards the bottom in the foreground represent the areas of solace I meditate in and the self-development I continue to do. The beams are connections to the lighter areas and reminders to reconnect with them before taking any next step in a social interaction.
Title: The Moment When (Isolation, Condescension, and Resentment Set In) / Part 1
Dimensions: ~ 30 in. x 45 in.
Medium: Pastel
Date created: May 2023

These two drawings collectively represent the moment after my high school boyfriend threw me on the ground and the affected self who continued after.

Narrative:
I'm angry. And embarrassed. I can't sort out whether I'm angrier at myself or at him. Or them.
Chris carried me awkwardly across our teacher's backyard and dropped me in a briar patch like a sack. I ultimately decided to ride home with him. I was in shock. Is this anger, or is it grief?
Earlier while collecting myself on the ground, I was comforted by the beauty of the briar patch from inside out. I wanted to lean in more to its warmth and away from his look. As he told me the lesson he was teaching me and reached out his hand to help me up, I knew in the moment, with his crouch facing me and his word choice, that the tone was condescension. He dehumanized me and detached me from the group.
The light from the break in the sky along the tops of the patch's branches was harsh - letting rays in, but seemingly unattainable. His knees and calves catch that light here, symbolic of the times when he was highlighted and raised up. My anger, hurt, and self-doubt deepened each time he was admired. No amount of pick-me-ups, praise, or support was enough to counter my diminishing level of self-worth.
This moment of mistreatment in Terry's backyard unknowingly shattered a piece of me, and I was vulnerable.

In Part 1, literal details of the moment on the ground are shown. He and I are represented on the left side, his crouch in the sharper top-left and my abstracted being on the bottom. The patch is represented on the right side, with loosening edges and a lighter scheme.
Our dynamic was unhealthy, so the dark values in our areas blend.
The beam in the lower-left is open to represent either my arm blocking myself from him, his arm reaching out, or a general limb catching the light from the top of the patch's branches.
The intentional looseness of the right side edges is restrained. The restraint is symbolic of my tightness - the anxiety to express myself or trust anyone (including myself).
Title: Deep and Impenetrable / Part 2
Dimensions: ~ 36 in. x 48 in.
Medium: Pastel
Date created: May 2023

These two drawings collectively represent the moment after my high school boyfriend threw me on the ground and the affected self who continued after.

Narrative:
This is a representation of my feelings of isolation and low self-worth that weren't significantly countered until mid-July 2020. It is what I imagine a center cut from my gut or mind could look like.
Between the pair of drawings, the bottom section of Part 2 has the darkest value. The gradient towards the top suggests a push, compressing the feelings further down. The lighter spears represent attempts made by family, friends, and other entities to counter the feelings, but to little avail.
Once getting back home that day, I didn't recognize how swiftly my self-doubt was deepening and my self-worth was draining. It already felt like what happened to me didn't matter. That I didn't matter.
My anger, present before and after that day, led to destructive behaviors which affected every relationship thereafter. I was less interested in seeing my own passions through and in advocating for my health. I continued to isolate in college, and, with fewer coping mechanisms in tow, I started an unhealthy use of alcohol.
Maybe that's why the vision of "Solace" was so peaceful. It's a refuge in part from this negative iteration of isolation. A distinct, new isolation of protection and peace. There's a peace I feel in this negative space as well in Deep and Impenetrable, but I lose myself in it.
I alone have had to work through whatever necessary to increase my self-worth and combat self-doubt. Sobriety has been the best catalyst for me to stay grounded today.
Though mistreated that day, my self-doubt was already present for several reasons before and made deeper roots after. Then, it was on me to decide how I'd respond and act moving forward.

Revive

First drawing from Revive series (first iteration); pen and ink abstract line drawingFirst drawing from Revive series (second iteration); pen and ink abstract line drawingSecond drawing from Revive series (second iteration); pen and ink abstract line drawingThird drawing from Revive series (second iteration); pen and ink abstract line drawingFourth drawing from Revive series (second iteration); pen and ink abstract line drawing