Not so strange perhaps how, when being nipped on the heels by the Black Dog, that a White on White ATC challenge can hold the hint of something dark. There’s nothing like making art to bring the subconscious to the fore.
Whistled up by contact from someone from my past, the Black Dog bounded, drooling, back to my side. Now that he’s curled up, snoozing with one eye open (always alert) life is once more on an even keel.
Although discussed more openly, these days, childhood abuse still evokes very mixed reactions. There’s the ‘just get over it’ type of comment. Understandable to a degree, when spoken to an adult whose traumatic experiences happened seemingly eons ago. As a survivor I have gotten on with my life, refusing to allow the effects of the past to ruin my future. Even so, certain situations or events still act as triggers, dragging me to the brink of the abyss where my abuser lies buried in the slime.
Other folk, people who have firsthand knowledge of what childhood trauma does to the psyche and soul, either through personal experience or dealing with a partner or close friend’s emotional roller-coaster ride, are more gentle with their comments. They accept what is. They don’t like it, but they accept it.
What we learn, and have done to us as youngsters never truly leaves us. The effects last a lifetime, colouring our view of the world and the people that inhabit it. I look at my grandchildren, as I did my children before them, and know real fear, for them, on their behalf. My past affects my current relationships with them in ways it is impossible to put into words. I hear a news item about the brutal annihilation of innocence and I feel sick, knowing what that child will have to live with. Almost certainly the Black Dog will shadow that child as he or she grows into adulthood.
In years past, the majority of women in mental institutions were found to be victims of childhood abuse. Now, with a more knowledgeable, understanding and vigilant mental health system we live relatively ‘normal’ lives as worthwhile individuals in the broader community.
The Black Dog may knock us to the ground, occasionally or regularly, but we refuse to lie there, defeated. We get up, dust ourselves off and… in my case, make art.