Little Red Survivor Art Week One

7 Jun

For this Art 101 challenge, I’m taking heart from a story I read in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. There were two groups of potters who did an experiment. One group spent hours trying to do the most quality work they could do. The other group ignored the quality and turned out vessel after vessel. When all was said and done, the group of potters who ignored quality actually turned out higher quality vessels.

This is why I have decided it doesn’t matter if I make crap art one day–or even several days, because sooner or later I believe I will make something of quality. So far my favorite piece of art in this first week has a deep sentimental value to me but I am not sure anyone else in the world except my husband will agree. You certainly won’t find it hanging in the Louvre, but love is inspirational and love doesn’t care what the critics think.

So for day one I did a concept that I have thought about many times. Any one who grew up jumping through hoops to please someone will understand this one.

photo (20)

Day One

So for day two I had a concept of a series I would like to do for my website of Little Red with different mantras or words that bring healing or reminders for survivors. I started out on day two and three making a type of art that was okay but not exactly what I wanted. Here are the next two days.

photo (23)
Day Two

 

photo (22)

 Day Three

While this concept was still inspiring me, I felt it looked a lot like a Disney cartoon and although I like the fairy tale theme, I was not satisfied with the style. Then I saw an artist who is very skilled and asked her what she used for some texture. It was very kind of Lucy Brydon to share her secret with me. (Thank you, Lucy!)

So on day three I set about to make some texture and give my Little Red a more mature look. Here are the next three days.

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.  ~Maya Angelou

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. ~Maya Angelou


Day Four

Sing-1000
Day Five

 

Little-Red-Breathe-1000

Day Six

 

And now this last one is my favorite. It is my Maine Coon Mix named The Kitteh Cosette that we got from the Humane Society. She is the sweetest and busiest cat I have ever owned and I that is saying a lot because I am a life long cat owner. If I had a muse it would be her. She sits beside me and pats my arm as if to say, “You’re doing good, keep it up.”

Kitteh-Coon-1000

So that’s the end of week one. Seven days out of 101. I am not tired of painting yet, as a matter of fact I am just warming up. I hope the other artists in Art 101 are enjoying this as much as I am.

Thank you for checking in and have a good week.

Cherilyn

Trust Your Gut

4 Jun

Before we learned to stuff our pain and hide our fears, we were in touch with our feelings. We knew when we didn’t want to eat something or when we were full and so we didn’t eat it. We knew when a grown up made us feel creepy or scared and we ran. We knew when grownups were lying and other kids were playing unfair. We once knew right from wrong–not only as a principle, but as a feeling when things were right or wrong.

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.  ~Maya Angelou

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. ~Maya Angelou

 

It’s true we couldn’t see everything or understand calculus, but we had a gut instinct. We knew it felt yucky to lie and we knew we didn’t want to hurt another person. And just as we knew all people are equal and should be treated fairly, we also knew what we liked to do–before it was ridiculed or beaten out of us. We loved to get lost in a swamp or a book. We wanted to do nice things for other people and animals. And most of us liked to swing and sing and draw and color.

If we could erase all the shame and expectations put on us, we might actually reach our goals. But somewhere along the way, our dreams got lost because we were told what to think and how to act. Somewhere we knew it was okay to clap and sway to music until someone came along in church and told us to sit on our hands. We knew it was okay to make mistakes in drawing, until someone said it had to be better, so we gave up.

So here’s a goal for the week–Trust your gut instinct. If you feel full, stop eating. If you feel like dancing, dance. If your gut says do not trust a stranger, then get the heck out of there. And if your heart says God must not be very nice if He barbecues people, then follow your heart and dig deep and discover what a loving Father actually looks like.

Here’s to listening to the gut, living authentically, making more art from the heart and worrying less about what other people think.

Little Red Survivor Art

3 Jun

For the next several months I have accepted an art challenge to make 101 pieces of art in 101 days and that is how Little Red Survivor Art was born. Because of this I have rearranged this site and put more focus on the subject of my heart–encouraging people who are hurting from narcissistic parents and spiritual abuse. Naturally, this means my art will probably be growing in that direction as well. I find comfort in these words-

The place God calls you to
is the place where your deep gladness
and the world’s deep hunger meet.
-Frederick Buechner

Even though I am deeply inspired, I’ll admit I am both excited and terrified by this commitment. Here is my permission slip with my intentions.

photo (10)

At the end of the 101 days I should know if I like doing art or I am just going to be a writer. I really have no idea where this will end up. So I wish all the other artists luck and I look forward to seeing what others are creating each day.

One thing that was missing from the childhood of many Adult Children Survivors was play. Sometimes this was because their parents did not appreciate their art or music or writing and mostly used their children to do housework or cooking. Or perhaps they were too caught up in their own crises to nurture art or music in their children.

One thing that threw me off was how my mom wanted the entire house to be clean before I did any projects. The chances of that were so slim that it rarely happened. You might note my intentions in the permission slip above that I have given myself permission to not have a perfect house. This will be really hard for me to do.

While I am painting, I don’t expect my art to look like the masters. I simply play with the materials. I find it very soothing to do art as a therapy. It allows my little girl to do what she wants instead of worrying about adult issues. If you are curious about trying your hand at art, I heartily recommend it.

Maybe you are an artist or writer, or maybe you are still unsure of what you want to do with your life. If that is the case, don’t be discouraged. Many Adult Children were sabotaged by growing up with parents who put themselves first, so you might find it difficult to figure out what you were created to do. We are the adults now and we get to do whatever we want. Perhaps this is an awakening time for you, take some time to write down the things that inspire you and pray about it.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do 
with your one wild and precious life? 
-Mary Oliver

Never Alone

30 May

Here is a story from my family tree which reveals two things–parents have been misusing their power over their children for generations and despite parental abandonment, God never leaves us.

Through the centuries, St. Paul’s Cathedral has hosted many of England’s majestic events. These include the wedding of Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth’s eightieth birthday, but in 1883, just fourteen years before Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, another event not nearly so well-known took place inside its magnificent Baroque walls. The compassionate God who foresaw Diana’s marriage of pain, stooped especially close to listen as a young man was about to be ordained in the spring of 1883.

Safe-at-Sea

This young man was my great, great, grandfather, Arthur Herbert Mellish. He was educated for the ministry in the Anglican Church. His father was in banking and he and his many siblings had been born abroad in exotic ports. Many of his family members were present to see him ordained. During his ordination service in St. Pauls Cathedral –he was asked if he had any questions and Arthur said, “yes.” He asked why have we done the things we ought not, and have not done the things we ought to do?” He continued, “Why do we not change, and do the things we ought to do? Why do we keep Sunday, when the Bible says to keep the Seventh-day holy?”

Well that was enough to stop his ordination. The family was so humiliated and disgraced that his father came to his room that night and gave him a one way ticket to America on the ship “Baltic.”

I can’t imagine why fathers shun their children who don’t agree with their theology, but one thing always rings true, God never leaves us. Disowned by his family and exiled to America in April of 1883, at the age of twenty-one, Arthur was heartbroken and alone and he never went back home to England.

In America—he found room and board by working on a farm. There was a family who lived across the road who had a daughter Arthur found attractive. Her name was Sedora. As he got to know her, he discovered Sedora’s family had recently had a visitor who was selling books and every time the peddler tried to leave their farm, he grew dizzy and fell down and had to stay longer. During his illness, he felt well enough to teach them about the Bible Sabbath. Arthur had never heard of a Seventh-day Adventist before, but he was about to marry one and become one himself.

Arthur and Sedora fell in love, married and had children. Their son was John Edward Mellish who became a semi-famous astronomer and discovered the craters on Mars. My grandma was his child and their granddaughter. Her favorite place to spend the Sabbath was in their home. Every sunset at Friday was a special time because it signaled the beginning of the Sabbath when all their work was set aside much like a holiday to spend time with each other and God. They never lost their joy of the Sabbath and passed it on to my Grandma, who passed it on to me.

God-stories like this found in the family tree give me reassurance that God sees all and He never leaves us. Many of us might feel abandoned by our parents at times, but we are never abandoned by God. That old sea serpent the Leviathan might even stir up the waters around us, but like Job, we can always rely on God to make things right in the end. If you are feeling alone tonight, rest in Jesus and let Him lead your ship to a safer port. Peace, be still.

RIP Maya Angelou

28 May

It is a sad day for the world. We have lost the laughter of a one of the most healing souls of the last two centuries. Maya Angelou has passed away. I’ll admit I shed some tears. And why would a white girl who lived such a sheltered life she barely knew a black woman until she was grown, weep at the death of a stranger? Although I’ve never met her, Maya did not seem like a stranger to me.

Her empathy, compassion and common sense transcended all barriers of race, politics and wealth. She could put someone in their place as easily as she could comfort them for their pain. She was an honest seeker of truth. She is known for her beautiful poetry, but she didn’t speak for the first few years of her life. She had to overcome being mute to give herself a voice.

She has been my favorite mentor and “shero” and somehow I always felt the world would be okay as long as Maya Angelou was still alive. Like many people, I’ve read her books and followed her interviews with Oprah since I first heard her name over twenty years ago.

Seeker

It was Maya Angelou who taught me–

“When we know better, we do better.”

“People will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

In her book, “Letter to My Daughter” in which she claims to have daughters of all colors, she taught us,

”You may not control all the events that happen to you,
but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

There is a little known story about her grandson being kidnapped by his mother and separated from his father for four years. Maya would not rest until she brought her grandson home and forgave his mother too—as only Maya could do. (I added a link to the story for anyone who is interested.*)

Maya taught us what it is to forgive, but to never forget. Her words empowered many of us to find our voices and tell our stories.

“I deal very little in facts, facts can obscure the truth,
you can tell so many facts you never get to the truth,
you can tell the places where, the people who,
the times when, the reasons why,
and never get to the human truth
which is love and pain and loss and triumph.”

I especially enjoyed Maya when she was on Super Soul Sunday talking about God.

“There is no place where God is not.
If you are in prison,
in a brutal relationship or lonely, God is there.”

Her faith in God was constant and a testimony in a day and age when many do not believe. Not only did Maya believe but she lived to meet her Maker–

“In all the institutions I try to be present and
accountable for all I do and leave undone.
I know that eventually I shall have to be present
and accountable in the presence of God.
I do not wish to be found wanting.”

Another favorite quote—

“Never whine.
Whining lets a brute know
that a victim is in the neighborhood.”

Maya certainly had a lot to whine about if she had chosen that route. Her mother was not good with little children so she left her with her grandmother, Maya was molested as a child, pregnant as a teenager and when her friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered on her fortieth birthday, she refused to celebrate her birthday for years. Yes, Maya grew up in a harsh world, but she was determined to make it a better world and she did.

RIP Peace Maya Angelou, you have enriched our lives and we will never forget you!

Finding her voice:

Love liberates:

*Story of Maya Angelou’s search for her grandson

Five Things That Can Steal Your Voice

22 May

If you came from a family with a lot of secrets, your voice has been threatened from the beginning. Sometimes it’s even possible to lose it without realizing it. Here are five things that can steal your voice.

1. You Can Lose It Through the Censor
Our parents may have changed, may have died and possibly not intended what we heard, but whatever we think we heard has now become part of the tape playing in our minds. If it is a critical voice we hear, we may give up speaking the truth. The censor in your head repeats all the lies your narcissistic parents told you. Once you’ve heard those lies and in innocence believed them, it might take years to decipher truth from lies. The censor can be shut up with truth. It is truth that sets us free.

Write-the-Truth

2. You Can Lose It Through Shunning
Narcissists like to talk about their Scapegoats. If you have been scapegoated, chances are most people the narcs has spoken to will wonder what to believe and unless they know you very well, they might stop talking and listening to you because of lies the narc has told them. You can’t do anything about this except be yourself. Who you are and how you treat people will eventually show up. Honest people will seek the truth. Meanwhile, your parents lying about you is a good reason to separate yourself from them a little further. If they can’t honor the truth no need to give them any more information to twist.

3. You Can Lose It by Listening to the Flying Monkeys
The Flying Monkeys are often apathetic to what you’ve gone through. They just want peace in the family and it makes them feel good to please the narc parent. They imagine themselves as peacemakers, but a true peacekeeper maintains truth and freedom for all people. Peace does not equal silence–the blood on a thousand war battlefields can testify to that. Peace comes from wholeness and life. A family cannot be whole when one member is hurting. So what the flying monkeys are really asking is that you shut up your voice and ignore your pain so the rest of the family can continue their charades of love for each other.

4. You Can Lose It Through Well Meaning Friends
Well-meaning friends like to tell us how to patch up our lives–but unless they came from the same family dynamics, they really have no clue. They say, “Well your childhood happened years ago, why not get over it?” They don’t realize many ACoNs* don’t catch on until middle age–in other words many of us went on with the family script faking it until we realized what was actually going on.

Such friends mean well, but they are clueless. Their mother always thought of them before herself, so they can’t imagine a queen mum who rules the family. Because their parents paid the bills and cleaned the house, they don’t know how to relate to your situation of being an adult child. The danger is here is they might get to you second guess yourself and wonder if you dreamed up the nightmare that was your childhood. Don’t let people who don’t really get it confuse you.

5. You Can Lose It Through Self-Sabotage
This is actually the most dangerous threat to your voice. You’ve recited the critical voices of your narc parents for years. You’ve been shunned and shut out. The flying monkeys have taken their toll and now a friend from a wonderful family can’t figure out what is wrong with you. All of these voices combine to steal your voice. They scream don’t tell anyone how it feels–just put on your happy face and suffer on. But remember–we are only as sick as our secrets. When you get to the fork on the road take the road least traveled and step up to the soapbox.

Speak the Truth–Even When Your Voice Shakes
Tell it like it is. Tell the narcissistic father he had no right to take your money and your youth. Tell your narcissistic mother that God created mothers to nurture their young, not shove them away. Tell the flying monkey siblings to wake up and smell the blood crying to them from the ground because they walked away. Tell your story. Tell when you hurt and how you hurt, tell it for healing and tell it when you are healing, tell it to anyone willing to listen because maybe, just maybe someone who has a child will think twice before he beats his little daughter because you were willing to share your story.

*ACoNs-Adult Children of Narcissist

Surviving a Narcissist

21 May Flying-Monkeys-name-7

Every day thousands of people do things they never wanted to do because they are afraid of offending someone who is bullying them. I’m not talking about a grade school scenario where a bully steals someone’s lunch money. I am talking about dysfunctional family dynamics that are toxic due to narcissism.

We’ve all known people, who thinks of no one but self, but the narcissist is more than selfish, he wants to take all you have and if you won’t give it, he’ll find a way to make you regret it. Your relationship with a narcissist can go from him flattering you to seeking revenge in a very short time.

Flying-Monkeys-name-7

It seems there are a lot of people who have been victims of narcissism but they had no idea what a narcissist was until it was too late. I have a good friend who used to be a millionaire until she met a narcissist who embedded himself into her life and accounts and friendships and he took her for a ride. Fortunately, she was able to bounce back on her feet, but the experience was grueling.

I used to think a narcissist was someone who dressed spiffy and liked to look at himself in the mirror, but that’s a simple caricature of a narcissist. So what exactly is a narcissist? There is such a thing as a narcissistic scale and we all fit on it. To some degree as I have been told it is like a scale of self-confidence, but once someone passes a certain mark, they are no longer manifesting healthy, but malignant narcissism.

A malignant narcissist is someone who is so concerned with self and survival of the fittest, they use other people and avenge those who cross them. They have no empathy for their victims or anyone else. If they appear to be empathetic it is just a ruse to get someone on their side so they can use them.

When you have money, they wonder how to get it from you. You cook dinner; they want to eat it and don’t leave anything for whoever else is at the table. They see you have a new toy; they have no shame trying to take it from you.  But what really sets the malignant narcissist apart is their lack of empathy and desire to get even with you when you don’t do as they ask. Then they play a game of revenge. Except for the narcissist it is never a game, but a life and death quest for survival of the fittest.

M. Scott Peck calls them the people of the lie. Maya Angelou talks about people who commit little murders. The narcissist is out to kill your reputation and they have tools in their bag that a nice person like you never dreamed of using. This is why I am writing this series–I am writing it to increase awareness and understanding of how narcissists operate because many of us have been used and abused by them.

As you read the ways a narcissist will try to damage your life and reputation, there is one thing I must caution you against and that is using those tools back on the narcissist or anyone else. Power misused and revenge sought will only harm your soul and make you forget what it is like to love honestly and fully and then sadly, you too could become like the narcissist. When you know you are being mistreated, think of a way to pay it forward so you can stay grounded in love.

 

A Game We Can Never Win

Not Your Kind of People

Narcissistic Feed

Hooray for the Scapegoat

Beware: Flying Monkeys

Gaslighting

Is It Unchristian To Go No Contact?

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