Architecture of our Psyche in Abuse and Recovery
January 17, 2019
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any ~ Alice Walker
This Red Thread Letter shares my thoughts about this topic, drawn from 25 years of working with women and children in the domain of creativity. My intention in sharing it is to provide a context for ‘viewing’ recovery through the awareness of how abuse impacts psychic, spiritual, and physical structures.
I created these images to accompany this writing exploring these ideas.
Architecture of our Psyche in Abuse and Recovery
When we are hurt
our natural patterns are interrupted.
The shapes we make
with our mind, body and field
can become dented and fragmented.
We are not as we were before.
This is the same for any kind of transformation,
we are different than we were before.
How do we work with, the new shapes,
if we have very little knowledge of
how to work with them, and what is,
the shape of a being?
the original shapes of wholeness,
are there in our energetic patterns.
We can choose to return to them with awareness,
yet knowing, that we will never be,
quite the same shape.
The shape that has been impacted,
creates a new shape of being,
that in time, we can work with, heal,
and be informed about and by.
Synthesis can happen when all or most
aspects of being are communicating.
When we are hurt, lines of communication
between systems are often interrupted.
Signals and messages from within
can become scrambled.
The internal narrator turns fierce.
Innocence is impacted and we can lose
ourselves somewhere along the way.
The self we may lose
is the part of us who knows how to
navigate our psyche.
Who has some co-creative capacity
with organizing consciousness.
The loss of that capacity
can be devastating, and feel like
a loss of soul.
This scattering of how we were once
knit together, now impacted by trauma
fractures and spreads throughout our entire being.
Mostly in ways we have little consciousness about,
or capacity to influence at the time.
Most of us do not know enough
about how trauma is going to impact us,
to take action before the
damage gets worse, as it is happening,
or right after, or even years later.
Imagine something like this…
A mosaic of stories, no longer whole,
shards that puncture our animating personae,
our potentials appear limited, wing clipped.
Arrows that seem to come from nowhere
enter and impact the architecture of our psyche.
Our physical symptoms amplify,
coding stories into impressionable cells.
Yet we know, we can bring alchemy
to catalyze the wound, but how.
We need know how.
Whether the trauma was physical to the body,
trauma makes it physical to the body and the field.
Imagine that we are a body within a soul,
and that our field is the interactive domain
connecting all of who we are,
a network of interconnected
lights, ideas, structures, stories, synapses
and so much more than we know.
Precious, gorgeous, unique structures
that house us, keeping us within the realm
of gravity for this earth experience.
What a journey?!
This fracturing populates our entire identity,
the space in which we have our being
is impacted on all levels, good, bad or otherwise,
‘impact’, force of any kind
changes how we are living in these structures.
Structures meaning both physical and energetic.
Recovery for many of us can be
challenging as we work on one part,
then the next, having to piece together
the seemingly separate pieces of healing.
We go to many different healers,
We go “Here for mind, here for body,
here for energy” then we have to weave
the braid ourselves, and often, we do.
Many healers do integrate the many layers,
and we are blessed if we find them,
when both they, and we are ready for such
an undertaking as the restoration of
the architecture of identity.
The time for new healing paradigms
are already present and we are living
within them now, made possible
by all the healers who have charted
the course to THIS MOMENT.
Let’s look further, in consideration
of the awareness of the architecture.
When the healing strands come,
upon what do they build, or land,
upon what armature are the changes
put in place, to return to and nurture?
So much to ‘hold’ in the mind
as we work to return to a wholeness
we feel was once there, if even
in infancy. How long ago was that
wholeness in place, and how long
before it can begin to make itself
whole again? Maybe now.
What if the rebuilding of
the being must begin with an
awareness of the design of human being?
And must this design be so complex,
or in a spiritual tradition with beliefs
and contracts and vows?
How do we even talk about it?
The design you are, is personal to you.
Though we share many traits that
we can extend to one another in hopes
of one story supporting another.
You are the one who re-members you
into wholeness. Which after being hurt,
is often elusive, perhaps, healed enough
can be enough. Seeking FULL healing,
may be a challenge for most of us,
and we wait and wait and wait
to live our fullness…what if we can be
healed enough? Is that a closer view?
You may not have an image of your
design pre-wounding, this idea may
seem abstract and perhaps even woo woo.
Simply the awareness that you have
a psychic architecture, a physical and energetic
shape that holds your identity, including,
personality, story, consciousness
may be a huge part of initiating
the next level of authoring your healing.
This awareness becomes an invitation
to restoration, to being in inquiry about
what this looks like for you.
The beautiful news here is that
YOU are the one who heals you.
You have already known this,
that there are things only you can do
This isn’t a concept.
Yet without the awareness of
what makes up a person,
it can be challenging to SEE IT.
To deepen this, in our community,
we paint it and draw it
and move our bodies with
the new awareness.
For now this is an invitation
to simply KNOW that your
architecture is there, has memory
of your whole being
and is waiting for your awareness.
Creativity is one of the powerful
ways to consciously and actively
engage with your psychic architecture.
Think of this as the space around you,
which holds you in place,
enclosing your sack of stars
with your skin suit.
When you create, you engage with,
as in, TURN ON the capacity
for co-creation with your
often hidden domains of being.
We are talking directly here,
about curating your own consciousness.
To do this you can’t just think about it,
or vibe into it, you MUST engage
with it, as in moving particles around
to begin to re-arrange how they have
It is time for gathering the shards
to repair the vessel, with our own hands.
By hands, I do mean, HANDS.
Bringing your hands into motion
to reshape how you are living within your being.
Action, physical action, is needed
for healing to begin to happen across all levels.
Imagine lights, that have been out or dim,
beginning to light up inside of your skin and around you
This is very real, biophotons are lighting you up.
Through the very act of reading this
and considering new possibilities,
even if you are stretching to grasp.
Reach . . . .
Recovery often follows conscious actions,
informed by a willingness to be in inquiry.
Furthered by asking, our very brain,
heart, and body to reach with us into a space
and place we haven’t been before.
Healing happens in the future, even just a few
moments into a space we have yet to visit,
let us go there together.
When we create
all the dust in all the locked
rooms of self, gets stirred.
Our giant broom
in the shape of a paintbrush
the darkest corners,
light and color.
“Who lives in here?” ~ Sue Hoya Sellars
As a community we’ve been working with over 1400 women the past 4 weeks on a process to experience self expression and begin to heal hidden stories.
I am not a therapist, neither do I identify as a healer…
I am a poet, artist, and I hope, a guide along the path of healing. This is not a textbook teaching or a truth. This is my own experience and drawn from 25 years of working with women and children in the domain of creativity. My intention in sharing it is to provide a context for ‘viewing’ recovery through the awareness of how abuse impacts psychic, spiritual, and physical structures.
I hold the possibility that the infiniteness of soul, somehow, remains whole and holy through all of it, guiding us ever onward to reclaiming our identity as we move on through the slings and arrows of human existence at this time. That said, if we can make contact with that soul space our communication can be more direct, and perhaps the stewarding of our recovery less random.
I am aware that in many cases the scars are quite visible. I am speaking in this context, primarily of what happens when the ‘visible’ impacts are hidden. And how that which is seemingly hidden from view impacts us. Yet the wound remains as large and real for us as if it is an open wound. It can be difficult, when we, and others, cannot see it – really ‘see it.’ We often question our own experience of it. Perhaps you have had this experience? Did it really happen?
I am using poetic linguistic frames – concepts that help us speak about things that are often either too abstract or intellectual to grasp in common dialogue. The articulation of which allows us to look at certain aspects as separate in order to bring them back together.
By psyche I mean the entire whole and consciousness of the being.
By identity I mean the whole being, including the unique animating personality. Yes connected with ancestry, but more than that as well.
By architecture I mean the energetic and physical frames that hold the whole of us in place, in space.
By soul I mean, the being that is infinite, in the mystery, that is you beyond this space and place. Whatever that is, we don’t really know . . . but to explore soul we begin to think about what the soul is for us. I simplify here in an effort to create inquiry around things that are often difficult to talk about. Make suggestions if you choose, and forgive me my errors. I will correct them as we learn more, together.
At one point in my life, I was so hurt. I was in shock for a few years and witnessing the invisible wound that would not heal over. Through ‘watching’ it as the observer, as well as choosing to see the self I knew I was, the healing began. I painted the resolution. I made the marks, so many marks, tears and rips, acknowledging my damaged architecture while holding the awareness of who I held myself out to be.
I saw my mind as a tree of life, with some damaged branches that would bloom one day, if I tended my tree. As I worked through the creativity, more of how it worked from a science and brain perspective came through. Being able to ‘see’ it on the canvas allowed me to remove the arrows at first one by one and then all at once. Between writing and painting, I was able to become ‘current’ with my state of being – psychic, spiritual, and physical – and be present with where I was. It isn’t that the scars aren’t still there; instead, they have become colorful, then moved into the background. To be summoned by choice instead of continually triggered without warning. My resiliency toolbox is filled with Intentional Creativity and overflowing enough to share it with others. Amen to that.
Healing does take time, no matter how present we are. Yes, it was years for some parts, but others healed as soon as I was able to turn my attention towards them in a painting process. My story needed me to see it, not just conceptually but contextually as a part of the whole being that I am. The roots of this work are precisely what informed Color of Woman, our Intentional Creativity Teacher Training, a calling to share with others what I had discovered. In my recovery, there were moments I felt I wouldn’t have to kill myself; I would merely expire from the pain of beauty and innocence lost.
The ‘tree of my consciousness’ was informed by an image from my teacher, Sue Hoya Sellars, in which I ‘saw’ the tree as my mind and I had to heal each branch. First, I named the parts of me that hurt, then the wholeness image began to do the work without a need to articulate every offense. I just had to get myself started, and then the momentum took over. Informed by my mother’s study of the Tree of Life teachings, I ‘knew’ I could lean into the ‘tree of my consciousness’ for support, connected to the earth. I painted and painted.
“For She is a tree of life to those that embrace Her Proverbs.”
Healing through seeing and being. My work with art-making as a form of healing resides in both ‘seeing’ and experience of it through physical ‘being.’ In Intentional Creativity, the shifts happen in the psychic, spiritual, and physical architectures all at once, hence, the capacity for it to be so inclusive, and in some cases, quick too. When we are ready for the next layer of healing, whatever in us that is ready can move (energetically and more) through the act of creating. Creating engages the whole self, and so a focused intent on healing with the action of creativity offers a chance at a new level of awareness about how this all works.
When we are whole and mostly unhurt, our ‘architecture’ is intact and makes specific shapes in our field, body, blood, bone, personae, mind – all the parts that make us up that are visible and invisible. I say, mostly unhurt because many believe just being born can be traumatic.
When we are hurt, the patterns of beauty are interrupted. Our entire being it seems can be dimpled or fragmented or dented. It still knows the original shape of wholeness that connects with our personae, our identity. In Cosmic Cowgirls, the reason we begin with the Legendary Self is to forge the powerful connection with the one who tells the story through activating imagination and animating the one within. Legend emerged WHILE I was going through my recovery, and I might say, saved my life through creating a visionary likeness of myself that I held out – as an image of recovery – and an image of self-celebration. Something to reach towards – yes, with a hat with a rose, and a leopard boa and attitude in my eyelashes (painting: Born This Way).
Our lineage of Intentional Creativity has stories of supporting and mentoring, and of passing on the wisdom we have gained. I hope this has moved you, uplifting the experience of a supportive community, a visible and invisible, architecture of loving.
As we close this cycle for the Colorful Scars experience, I wish to thank each of you for your willingness to risk the work of recovery in a new way. I am so grateful, more than I can ever tell you, for all the stories you have recounted and the acknowledgment that it has, indeed, helped you along your way. Let us continue to gather together in red thread. Protecting those we can, by becoming protectors, and knowing, we too are surrounded by loving others who have done the work before us.
Holding love and support for those impacted by the fires.
For now we are safe. Thank you to those who reached out.
Colorful Scars ~ a free class for women to experience self expression and begin to heal hidden stories.
Born This Way: Legendary Self Painting by Shiloh Sophia