We had Art Therapy today. Must be Wednesday.

Three people from last week did not show up, two new people showed up. Except they are not new since the moderator and one of the participants know them. Hey, how are you, long time. And so on. This is a safe place after all. Five women and me. The ratio is right again.

Today’s challenge: represent your support network. Is it internal? External? Faith based? What does your armour look like? Armour? There is the battle cry again. A subject for a different day at the sessions. No armour here, though others do not appear to have any problems with the concept.

I had a lot of trouble with this one. Kept looking for the inner child to show itself. Damn child stayed well hidden. Probably behind its armour. No, no armour here, and none for the inner child.

I took a lot of notes again. The session started with people talking a bit about themselves and what they are feeling. I was quiet. Not sure if I am ready for that yet. Which, you have to admit is bizarre. Here I am laying myself bare in a very public blog, but have difficulty expressing myself in an atmosphere of trust and safety.

There is a lot of anger. Different people expressing it. Same discussion as last week. Anger at people who do not seem to understand. Anger at the inconsiderate nature of people. Anger at being abandoned by close friends who cannot handle the change.

There is also a certain amount of condescension. A safety blanket of sorts. It manifests itself in subtle ways. An interesting aspect of belonging to a private club. We are invited to go shopping, but we turn it down. We don’t need to go shopping, we are not materialistic. The same sentiments were expressed last week, by a different person. Again, no one objected to the sentiment, or even commented. There appeared to be tacit agreement. Some of us are more empathetic than others. People are mainly concerned about themselves. Life is too short for us to worry about others. Are we being patronizing to those who are unlucky enough to not have been enlightened by having cancer?

One person talked about losing long standing friendships. The relationship has changed. Shopping is of no interest. Life has changed, but the friends are still looking for the old relationship. They do not seem to come to terms with the changes and how they will affect things.

One friend wanted to talk about the view from the other side. It was not to be. I was disappointed. Wondering what that was. I will have to take it up with my friends and see what comes out. It should make for an interesting conversation. This participant did not have the energy to listen to the other side, or the patience, or anything else. She listens to her friends talk about things that are no longer important to her, but are still important to her friends. Frustrating.

How much accommodation should we accord our friends? How much should be accommodated by our friends?

People need to do some self-reflection without it being started by someone else. I am not sure I agree with that one. We all need prompting from something or someone to wake us up. Look at us, the enlightened ones. We are self-reflecting, but only because we have been forced into it. Life would have gone on as before otherwise.

Comparisons were made to the Wizard of Oz. We keep looking externally for confirmation that we have brains, hearts, courage. All are within us, if we were only to look. There are lots of parts in our insides which take a lifetime to know. I think that is way too optimistic.

The Paintings:

Healthy Cell

She used green in her painting, even though she does not like green. Never wears it. She radiates from the inside out, drawing a cell, or is it an amoeba, or  a jelly fish. She does not know why she drew what she drew. It looks like a vulnerable inside protected by a more hard core exterior. Green representing spring, rebirth, new life. After all the feedback, and there was lots all centered on the protective shell, which still allowed the inside to radiate outwards, the participant said that what it says to her is that “I am here for you”. It begged the question, who is you? Sorry, what she meant to say is, “I am here for me”. That is an interesting thought that goes back to the original discussion we had about it being about you, and how much accommodation should be given and so on.


Water makes a return appearance. In this case it represents the friends and relatives who are there to support you. Surrounding you with calm and serenity. The oyster is her protected by the shell that is open to accept the radiation that is coming from the sun and others. Allowing her to help others and give of herself. The oyster represents purity and happiness.

A connection between the oyster and having to look deep within yourself? The expression that was used, I think was diving deep. Probably the most interesting comment of the day was given by the oyster: Give yourself permission to ask for what you need.

Strength from Within

Strength comes from within, while we are still nurturing others. Should we be more careful when communicating with others? Do we risk upsetting the equilibrium of relationships by being too open? This participant seems to think so. She painted her need to look inside for her support. Finds it exhausting to look outside. Energy sucking at ts best when you have to look outside for your strength. She painted herself as the centre radiating inner strength while protected from the outside by a thick wall. An internal light that needs protection from the  outside.

6 Circles

Six circles. She does not want to talk about her painting. Could not get into it.But she is pushed just a bit to tell more. She talks about the colours:

  • Blue=loyalty
  • Green=being grounded
  • Purple=creativity
  • Yellow=assertiveness
  • Grey=reflectiveness

There was a lot of comment on this painting. Circles leaning into one another, the colours bleeding into each other. A relationship between all the characteristics that are important to her. This has less to do with strength and support, and more to do with expectations of others. The conversation turns to support for the participant. She has done well to express herself. better than she thought. She wanted to draw balloons, but did not feel she a good enough artist to pull that off. As it is, are these asteroids colliding, or flowers?

She has grown up with negative messages, struggling to find her voice. Railing against all the negative messages that are pointed in her direction, She sent an eMail to someone cutting off the relationship . Should we cut people off? At what point? For what reason?

One participant did not wish to participate She drew three pages, participated in the conversations, but nothing abut her paintings. I hope she comes around next week. She may be robing us from an experience.

Where does strength come from. I have written about this before. Inner strength, I feel, is fed from outside support and help. Faith is definitely a big player. As are conversations. this bog which gives me a venue for dealing with thoughts. I guess that means that comments from readers are also very valuable.

Faith, Friends and Internal

My painting represents me at the centre, fed by my Faith (the nine pointed star), and my friends and relatives surrounding me. How great an artist am I! The brown stuff at the bottom is me being grounded. There was a lot of conversation around this. Maybe because I went first. Does my Faith bring people in to support? It should make for an interesting conversation, the role of Faith in one’s life. Whether the Faith in you attracts others,  or others create the Faith in you. Another day.

I said  at the beginning that there is a lot of anger in the room. Not at each other. Another item that came up was the giving nature of some of the people in the room. I asked everyone in the room if they were givers. All saw themselves as being givers, a couple hesitated a bit saying only part of the time.

The book, AntiCancer talks about the C personality. Among other things, it mentions that one of its characteristics is that they are generally givers and not takers. I brought the book in. I had made reference to it the previous week. One of the participants was reading the section, which I had bookmarked, detailing our personalities. Interesting reaction,a s one person disagreed with this entirely. Not believable, she said My cousin Ruja said the same thing when I was first diagnosed. She says it makes us more vulnerable. In a room of six people who have cancer, 6 people are more or less givers.

One person said that people would probably not fess up to being takers. Does this make takers lesser people? No judgments here. I asked a free question, allowing people to answer any way they wished to. There is a negative connotation to being a taker, but really and truly, no judgments here.

I was discussing this with Leslie, who wondered if the giving is hiding those other emotions. Could it be hiding the anger that is already there? Is it masking some other feelings that are just waiting to get out and manifest themselves?

An interesting two hours.

7 Responses to “Art Therapy: Session 2”

  1. I read your two sessions of Art Therapy. I did some works and then re-read and it made me think about the matter and even wondered about Leslie’s comment and found it very interesting to be considered.
    From my own experience I know that I was a giver. But I was far from being an angel.! It simply gave me pleasure to give. But over the years I noticed that what I do is taken for granted. Another word is not appreciated. I continued like before but a rage and bitterness was coming up as well. Then bitterness and a terrible bluntness came out, I saw the puzzled look of people around me. They were frieghtened. I did not know how to say what I wanted and when I started saying it, it sounded more harsh and terrible than I really felt. It became a bit softer over the years. But still I am working on it. And I am not a charmer. But as you well know we all inherited a bluntness that gets worse over the years !! It also demonstrate an outstanding sincerity regardless of who we are, where we are and what we believe in. This is our real gift.I sometimes wondered if all these givings was as leslie said a mask or lets call it self defense towards agression of those I would see myself not strong enough to confront. Now I know that some part of it was. It was the way I was able to fight. I made agrressors feel ashamed about themselves.!! As I was not good in words,this was the way I fought.!!
    Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts so generously. Talking to you opens many new windows.

  2. here is a strange thought i have sometimes: "I wish I had only a few months to live, because then I could finally do whatever I want." Of course, I should be doing what I want right now, but somehow there is this sense that I must continue with my normal life, do the things that need to get done instead of doing the things that make me feel alive and present in the world. I wonder if that is the advantage that those with cancer have over the rest of us, your freedom to do as you please is immediate and explicit and everybody knows it. But I imagine that is just my fantasy, based on watching some TV show from the sixties with Ben Gazzarra going off and doing exciting things every week because he was going to die, that the feeling nauseous and having to clean the bag and have chemo doesn't leave time for romantic adventures. But I really want to paint. Do you think I could sneak into your art therapy class?

    • I wish there was a way of sneaking you in. I also wish there was more lesson. As you can see from my tremendous effort.

      I think the part about cancer patients living day to day and making the most of life. We are in a bit of a shock all the time. I also think the anger that some people feel gets in the way.

      We had a friend named Judy Elder who passed away in 2001. She had a very rare blood condition, forget the name of it. She had the condition from the age of 16, and time was not on her side. She became pregnant with her second child, and after giving birth to the remarkable and wonderful Jack, had to have a full blood transfusion every three weeks. Not every one was aware of her condition. She was very quiet and private about it. Complications from it finally caught up to her.

      She was the only person I have ever know who lived life to the fullest, as if that was going to be her last day. Her partner, David, was a great support to her and helped her fulfill the lifestyle.

      And then there is this: Woman with MS climbs Mount Everest

      I think you are so busy dealing that you tend to forget to do the living. It takes an enormous of concentration to get there. I also wonder if there is a part of you that needs fulfillment from working or contributing something to society.

      So many questions!

  3. Thanks for sharing the art class. How great that you take notes to be able to capture so much detail. It’s fascinating. I am seeing so much through your words. I never stop being amazed by your generosity in sharing your journey. xoN

  4. That is crazy, that you need to have a rare blood condition to live life to the fullest. I don’t want to climb Mt. Everest, but I want to live as if any day could be my last. love, gita

  5. Farokh, I just wanted to let you know that I’m reading, sending loving thoughts and hope to visit when I’m in Canada over Christmas (if and when you are up for it). And also, that your posts always give me much to ponder and that I am particularly enjoying your discussion of your Art Therapy classes.

  6. Hi, thanks for posting all the pretty pics ;-) . Seriously, I think that the paintings look better on the net than in art class. If I remember correctly, the woman with the bleeding circles didn't cut anyone off; she was just getting closure on someone who had unceremoniousy and inexplicably rejected her. You're presence greatly helped cheer me up with your hilarity and wit!

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