Art Therapy Reflection – Garden of Eden

In the pursuit of upgrading myself to be a better educator, practitioner, artist and a human being, I am undertaking an art therapy course. Though there are familiar concepts, theories and names such as Carl Jung and Howard Gardner, I didn’t know a whole lot more could be unearthed from just a few weeks of lesson.

I promise not to ramble on theories or steps of developments or draw diagrams of parts of the brains ;) I really should start on my assignment, due next Monday but here I am. Yes, I am also studying (2-year degree) part-time on top of working full-time. Educator by day, and student by night. At times, I am caught up with a lot of stuff, hence my posts are brief. By nature, I am a chatterbox and my posts are really, really long. Thank goodness this 10-session art therapy course is only twice a month (planned as such to cater to our busy schedules).

On top of learning “dry” stuff, we do have practicals. This was the first exercise we did. Eyes closed, the sweet and calming voice of the art therapist instructed us to imagine a door. We were told to observe the door before entering it. On the right, there is a shelf. Given ample time to think of where we are and how our surroundings look like, we then opened our eyes and started drawing. Here’s mine.

Art Therapy

Look at the different mushrooms on the shelves. Well at that point in time, I really wanted to cook Tom Yum clear soup, with nothing but mushrooms and perhaps fish fillet. The rabbits, cats and butterflies are in a garden. All I wanted was to see my favourite animals and pets enjoying the soft sun rays in heaven.

I was picked to share. As this was the first exercise, I really didn’t know what to expect. Before anything else, you should know that the attendees are none other than my colleagues – some I’m very comfortable with, some are just colleagues – and my boss. Yup. This being the first lesson, it was a little bit uncomfortable, but a social butterfly, I tried to keep an open mind. I’m here to learn. I’m here to gain as much as possible. I guess the therapist must have sensed my hesitance, for she prompted questions. See, the mushrooms on the shelves were straightforward. The harder part was reasoning why the animals are there.

Slowly, tactfully and perfectly, the therapist unearthed my subconscious emotions. The three cats are my pets. And I wish for them to be happy. The rabbits were my pets. The butterflies are what I chose – since about 7 years ago – to represent myself. This may seem “easy” but there’s more to it. I couldn’t believe it myself but I cried while sharing…

See days ago (in December 2012), a cat was believed to have been abused. The picture went viral and was circulating in Facebook, etc. The cat’s eyes were bloody and out of its head. He suffered. A lot. I was so affected that I cried for an hour upon reading about it the night before and of course when I shared this. The tears didn’t last for an hour, thank goodness. My colleague got me an entire tissue box though. Nope, didn’t empty it. This artwork is what I wish for the cat to be: in a better place – Heaven. My three cats are supposed to be his angels up there, though they’re still alive, breathing, and running around like monkeys.

Next, the rabbits. When I was nine, my dad got two rabbits for us. I named them after Power Rangers characters Kimberly (white fluffy fur) and Tommy (white and grayish black). Funny, but Tommy got pregnant! Hahaha they kept breeding and breeding, from 8 to 9, etc. It became a problem, as our kitchen (we caged them there) would stink from the pool of blood after Tommy (quit laughing!) gave birth. One day when I came home from school, they were gone. I never had the chance to say goodbye. All I know (until now) is they became “difficult”. I mean, I know they outgrew the cage and all, but this piece of artwork somehow made me realise that part of me is missing.

The therapist asked if I have talked to my dad about this, asking him why didn’t he talk to me or at least discuss about giving them away, etc. Not wanting to drag the whole thing, I lied and said I have. Truth be told, when I was a teen, my dad somehow stopped talking to me. He just didn’t. I guess he doesn’t know how to deal with teenagers. I don’t know. Now that I’m an adult, yes we do engage in conversations. In fact, my partner thinks my dad is normal. Well yeah. So anyway, to cut the story short, I will surface this matter oneee dayyy. I really had a strong emotional attachment with Tommy and Kimberly. My dad and I would spend the afternoons with them on the land behind our house. I’d be there in my battery-operated car driving alongside them. I miss them. Ok now I feel like crying.

I guess as a child, I felt the lost, but have never concretised these feelings. They are suppressed somewhere beneath, that were only unearthed during this art therapy course. So after 16 years, I know how I feel. I’m sure there are other things. Part of me feel intimidated, but the other part can’t wait for the revelations ;)

What I’ve learnt: Art therapy is the concretisation of feelings externally.

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