It’s not arts-and-crafts day at the loonie bin. Rather, Dr. A. Suggested that I paint my pain. (That sounds a bit like self-contradiction, but just never mind). He mentioned it before, but I could only conceive of it in abstract terms: how will I draw pain? What does my pain, the thing, look like? I have no idea.
Finally, he showed me a drawing someone else had made for him in his office. It was terribly disturbing, a person’s body with pain on it, and the dreadful, sad colors that one would expect with pain. I finally understood (a little dense, I am, since the aneurysm). The painting could be of me in pain.
I went home and tried to write what I saw in my head:With closed eyes, I see zig-zag lines of electricity over my body from above I’m on my knees, facing downward, with my arm back, like a Thanksgiving turkey, with emaciated drumsticks and wings that swell up and turn bright red to the horror of the guests
Knowing this of me, you probably are thinking it is better I missed Thanksgiving dinner at Melanie’s.
Well, so then I painted my crazy picture, which is remarkable for a few reasons: first, it’s a second draft, meaning that before you laugh at it, consider that the first was the really juvenile one! Second, as I look at it with a few days’ distance, I wonder why I chose those colors. It seems like I should have chosen dismal, disturbing colors, not bright cheerful colors, as though to say, Hi, peeps, isn’t pain just swell? Third, if I were to include text, wouldn’t it make sense to write the words large enough to read (it’s easier to see them if you click on the picture and see it in a larger size); safe to say, though, that this is not a piece that reflects the artiste in me.
Still, it was a cool assignment. Dr. A (as in Dr. Philip Appel) is a killer, amazing psychologist at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, who specializes in patients who are managing chronic pain brought about by chronic illness or disability. He is so good that you almost should get a chronic illness just so that you can go see him.
Anyway, Dr. A. mentioned that at least part of the strength in painting one’s pain is that it allows us to experience the pain as something outside our body, a step towards stepping outside of the pain. I like that possibility very much.
I wonder if this means I should take the painting, shred it in little pieces, and burn them in effigy tonight…