Part 2: PS for EAI (Divulging my Story)

            Personally, I value a therapist with a strong mindfulness practice, because if they are able to navigate their own experience gracefully, they will be better able to remain mentally and emotionally present for the client. I am ready to take on this academic and professional endeavor because I have a strong foundation in self work that I am happy to demonstrate. I understand that it’s highly rewarding to become clear and open about your personal history so that you may embrace it, use it to better your life and be an example to others. This is why I have included my story below. I see integrity in giving others the opportunity to relate to it. I paint my past with unapologetic words to convey what exactly the expressive arts have assisted me with and why I feel so passionately about making it a profession.

            In the past I have described my history as ‘colorful’, and it is. I’m ready, however, to elaborate and reveal more than that euphemism can offer. The experiences I have known range from happy bright yellow to twisted murky green. Fortunately, aided by the gifts of empathy and creativity, I am able to acknowledge the dark, yet live in the light. Here’s a look at both, and how I am working to illuminate new paths to joy and freedom through the expressive arts.

            In my early youth I filled my days with visual, literary and performance art to cope with loneliness and combat parental neglect.  I moved a few times a year and suffered child abuse from the age of 5 to 18. In the moments that I was drawing or writing as a kid, I was free. In the hours I was in dance or theatre rehearsals as a teen, I was safe from self-destruction and crime. My passion for understanding human thought and emotions arose from having a psychologist as a step father and a mother who introduced me to meditation. I began to explore the complexities of how the mind handles trauma through art. I created and performed monologues from the film Sybil to illustrate dissociative identity disorder as well as wrote sequels to the film The Bad Seed as an attempt to understand violent, psychopathic behaviors. Many adults in my life encouraged me to consider becoming an Art Therapist. As a youth and young adult however, I felt so overwhelmed by my own traumas and those of my friends and relatives, that I couldn’t conceive of holding the weight of other peoples’ sadness.

            My identity went through a radical transformation in my 19th year. I had lived through, but had not yet acknowledged to myself (nor spoken about it aloud), years of child abuse, both sexual and violent in nature. Luckily, I was able to free myself. A shotgun held to my head incentivized me to escape my abuser, a step-brother with whom I lived. He was six years my elder and had put me in the hospital before when he heard me say ‘no’ to him.  I was terrified to leave and fortunately he went to jail on the night that I did. I had time to get out safely.

            Following my escape, I continued using alcohol to numb the painful memories as I had done for six years. One night a girlfriend and I were in a dangerous situation in Tijuana. My intoxicated, adolescent mind thought little of the risks we were facing until all of our money had been taken and we were being held captive in a car by two men who attempted to sedate us with heroine and sell us to a corrupt police officer- or anyone else in the market for humans. Luckily our captors were unable to find a buyer before sunrise when our screams began to draw the attention of the public and we were eventually released.