To My Grandmother's Disdain: Using Art to Heal Open Wounds
I got married this last September. In the midst of chaos that is planning a weekend wedding at the incredible Lost Lake Campground, I got a package in the mail. Immediately Irecognized the return address as my paternal Grandmothers, oddly, because I had not spoken with her for the last 12 years.
You see my father died when I was only a couple of months old. My grandmother did her best when I was a kid to write me regularly, come to visit me and have me visit her in the tiny Oregon town of Sweet Home. Problems arose when I turned 19 and told my Grandmother a big secret I had been hesitating to tell her, I was a lesbian. At first her reaction was somewhat okay with the fairly normal comment “Well I won’t be looking to you for great grandchildren but you are my grand daughter and I love you”. We went on like normal, telephone calls and letters until I invited her to my commitment ceremony. Crickets. For the next 12 years. Crickets.
Fast forward to 2016 and the mystery envelope. Amidst all the stress, crafting and general chaos I opened the envelope. Out fell every photo my Grandmother had of me, my mother and my sibling. A lifetime of photos ending abruptly when she cut contact. No note, no intention, but I got the message. She was completely disowning me. Rage swept through me. Only one family member had my address and I knew immediately who had given it to my grandmother. In a fit of rage I shoved the envelope in a drawer and went back to my life.
Recently though it has started to come back up as I am working through The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. We have been spending some time on our childhood trying to re awaken our inner child and I knew it was time to come back to the envelope in the drawer. I pulled out those photos yesterday determined to find some goodness in them again. As an artist my work focuses on the topics of queer identity, femininity and recovering lost memories. It was time I took to those photos for contemplation.
In retrospect I could have done this months ago to deal with the dull ache in my heart. However as many know we need to be in a place to receive healing of that nature. Yesterday I worked on six sketches that will go no where however as I sat there looking at those photos I chose to look at them with love. Often Art is just that an act of healing rather than the creation of our next masterpiece. Much to my Grandmothers disdain I refuse to carry her hatred and anger forward a moment longer. Instead I left it there on those pages where it belongs and once again met up with my child self hiding in the trees around my Grandmothers property.