Soulful Art: Part I

We did not make a single plan this weekend and as a result we have both been happy as clams with our shells closed tight. We watched a movie together, donated some items to red cross, took Lu on an outing, and then retreated for introvert time.

Hubs hid out in the office more than likely do math, and I set myself up on the living room floor to paint.

Yesterday I worked on an art project for internship. I cofacilitate a group every week with an MHC intern from my university. Every other week we take turns leading and coming up with the topic/content for group. This week was my week, I did boundaries. Next week will be the MHC intern’s turn and then the following week will be mine again.

I know for my next opportunity to lead I want to do an art project with the group to help them process the topic I have chosen. I am going to build on what I have started with boundaries and discuss the metaphorical masks we all wear in order to feel safe and accepted by the outside world. We will literally be creating masks. One side will be adorned with our outside self and the other side will be decorated with our inside self.

In order to stick with my intention of not asking my client’s to do work I would not be willing to do myself, I created my mask yesterday. I wanted to see what parts felt difficult for me, and where/how I felt stuck while working on it so I will be able to help my clients if they struggle in a similar way. I find that I am able to lead a more authentic discussion and processing after if I have done this work myself because I will have better insight based on my own experience with it and may be able to offer a different perspective for them.

For example, a few things I recognized while creating my mask were:

  1. The stuff on the outside is not always fake. Often when we talk about the idea of masks we are often referring to fakeness, they are not being authentic because they are not letting me see behind the mask.. I definitely thought this. It is not that our outside mask is inauthentic to the point  of fakeness, it is just not the whole truth. It is a version of the truth, the version we are comfortable showing. Almost everything on the front of my mask is authentic for me, it is just not the whole story.
  2. The stuff on the inside is not necessarily bad. I think that is another misconception we make, at least I know I have. It is easy to assume a person is wearing a mask and maybe only showing their highlight reel because the stuff they do not want you to see is bad. What I realized when I being honest about what I allow to be seen on the outside and what I keep on the inside on my own mask is that while some of it is darker and I hide it inside because of stigma and shame and not wanting to feel judged, some of it is really special and beautiful but I have traditionally kept it on the inside because it means so much to me that I keep it just for me and don’t want to share it.
  3. There is so much more beneath the surface. On the outside of my mask I put exactly what felt right to me, I only put what spoke to me and told me they were meant for the outside. I did the outside first and when I was done it felt honest, Yep that looks accurate. Then I did the back/the inside. I realized there was so much I wanted to include that I really didn’t have enough room on the mask for everything to be seen. I chose to edit and try to make it as honest as possible understanding that I would not be including everything due to space limitations. Again, the outside felt honest too but it was only a small fraction of the whole picture. We all have so much bubbling under the surface that the outside world may never see, save for a few trusted people.

That last realization really struck me on a deeper level. It helped me truly understand what people say about how You never really know a person or You never know what a person is going through etc etc. I mean seriously. When we interact with people it is like we are seeing just one star in a dark sky so we think that is all there is when in truth there is an entire universe that is constantly expanding inside that person but because we can’t see it we would never know. Fuck right?! It’s wild when you really think about it.

So here is the mask I created. Excuse the poor picture quality, the inside image came out blurry and I decided I didn’t care enough to take another shot.

Addendum: It occurred to me after I had already published this post that maybe “I didn’t care enough to take another shot” is not the whole truth. Maybe my inside self did not actually want to be soon 100%. Maybe this is the real reason I didn’t take a second shot to clarify the image and maybe on some intuitive level, without being fully aware I was doing it, I took a quasi-blurry photo on purpose. There is a whole expanding universe bubbling beneath my surface, it is quite possible I don’t want you to see more than a few of my more noticeable stars. 😉

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