Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Life and Death - Art as Therapy

Life is ongoing and indestructible
So as you know, I alternate between posts about my latest artwork and some from the past. Most of the pieces I do have meaning, either for me or as a story or message to the people who view the artwork. This is a difficult post and painting. I write it/paint it to help others learn to listen to their intuition, that still, small voice within, as it can protect you in ways you wouldn't imagine. Listen....

This piece took me 34 years to allow out of my system and it was a cartharsis of sorts. Sometimes art can help us to heal.

I hate putting this post up because I hate the presence of the degradation it tells the story of in this world. I much prefer to keep on my rose colored glasses in which everything is Winnie the Pooh, full of innocent wisdom and love. I have posted this before and deleted it because it is an acknowledgement of the hard to understand evils in this life, but I feel that if I am representing myself properly in my blog it needs to have a place here, it is fundamental to who I am and how I operate. Warning, this post is not for the squeamish. What happened changed my life, as it did many others.

I was enrolled in classes as a freshman at Florida State University shortly after I graduated high school in 1977. I was studying art and enjoying the sunshine and the free spirited open minds as well as the beautiful ocean and pure white sand beaches. I didn't have much money, and by November was looking for ways to bring a little extra in. A friend of mine was going away for the holidays and asked if I wanted to step into her job at a bar for a while, so I said yes.

I didn't know anything about waitressing in a bar, didn't know anything about the various drinks people could order, but I was attractive, and loved being around people in their happy party place, so they hired me to take on her job for several weeks while she visited her family.

As I was working one night, I noticed there was a man who stood out among the crowd, though actually he was sitting down at a table by himself. Dressed in a conservative brown turtleneck and dress trousers, he nursed a short drink for hours, all the while watching me. His undivided attention made me uncomfortable. He stared and stared as I pranced between tables of revelers, filling drink orders with a flower in my hair, dressed in tight blue jeans and white t-shirt  - the sort of standard uniform for the girls working in the bar.

After a while he came up to me, this man, and looked at me with eyes that saw nothing else, only me. I was prey. He asked me what time I got off work and if I'd like to go to breakfast with him. As he was standing near me I could feel the heat coming from his body - like a magnet, but not attractive, it was completely repulsive. The energy coming from his body extended about 2 feet out, and hit me in my gut. Get away was the message I was feeling.

I did something I never do - I lied. I told him I got off work at 3, thinking that he would wait for me until then. Then I felt myself directed by some higher force and I took action that I wouldn't ordinarily take. I left the bar right then - it was only midnight. I went to a group of my friends who were there and asked them to walk me home to my dorm room - I didn't inform my boss and I didn't let anyone know I was leaving, I simply left.

The walk to my dorm felt like an eternity. When I arrived I went into my room alone, put the blinds down, and sat smoking a cigarette in the dark. I didn't know what had happened, this disapperance from work with no notice was uncharacteristic behavior for me, but I knew deep inside that it was completely necessary.

I didn't go back to the bar. I didn't collect my last paycheck. News came out shortly thereafter of some sorority girls who had been attacked by a serial killer - some died, some survived. They'd left their door unlocked and he just went right in and the stories of what he did with bottles and broom sticks to them were horrendous. He was a complete psycho. I didn't delve into the details then, I didn't know that the man who asked me to breakfast was Bundy until years later when a book came out and I chanced to see his photograph. I did not read the book.

The mood around campus after we'd heard the news of the murders was surreal. When I went to my classes I was so aware of my vulnerability everywhere. Long sidewalks full of bushes and trees and spaces where you could be attacked and no one would know. All of the females attending the university at that time were afraid. The males were awesome. In my classes there were always some who'd offer to walk me to my next class or to my dorm - totally gentlemanly, and much appreciated. When we pushed the button for an elevator wherever we were and there was a tall white male in there and no one else we took the stairs instead or waited for another elevator.

We changed our habits to foster safety as this murderer roamed our sacred territory uncaught - when we ordered pizza in the dorm we'd go down in pairs, and the pizza delivery person who normally would just be buzzed in and come on up for delivery was met at the door which was carefully locked upon his exit.

It was just hell. Just hell to know these girls were taken advantage of in their innocence, hurt in unimaginable ways. I lost my faith at that time - my religion failed me. And I lost my trust in most human beings.

I checked out of the university - unenrolled immediately, and went back home several hundred miles away to get to a place I felt safe. It was many years until I could set foot on a college campus again. My opportunity for a college education had been blown all to hell.

It was many years until I could examine what had happened and how to put into some life context the fact that this man who had done these things had asked me to breakfast which was a sure invitation to a private painful death, which I had somehow escaped. I asked myself what does it mean to be a survivor after you've been targeted? What do I do with this?

How do I make it all right that these kinds of things happen in this world, how do I keep on going?

So this painting is about a time many many years later when I allowed myself to think about those events. The girls who died, the ones who lived, my place in securing my freedom from the same fate.

As I worked on the painting my receiving self was open to whatever communications would come through. It began with the image of Bundy - black. Soon I found myself drawing the spirit of the woman/women that were killed, floating out from him, above him, going to their celestial home. Then I noticed his face - at first turned away from the living, dehumanizing - but then turning toward the light of the spirit ascending - and I knew that in his process of death he would realize he had not destroyed anything forever. He had cut short lives, but the energy of these beautiful spirits lived on in wholeness - and he realized he was sent back to himself to absorb the revelation that he did not have the power to destroy, only to change. The compassion with which the rising spirit touches him shows the forgiveness and love that is extended to him by the bigger spirit of the woman. The spirit sliding out of the body on the ground shows that life continues regardless of earthly limits.

The girls spoke to me - their spirits showing me that they are not gone. They are very much alive and well in the place where we all are whole. So the statements along the right-hand side of this image are the ones they expressed to me. I am whole. I am alive. I am. I am. I am.

I didn't know this picture was going to come out of my system. I thought I had put this experience into some manageable context years ago. But as I painted it and allowed the suggestions for what should appear in the image to come through (I didn't want to paint the dead body at all but found that when I did I then had to do the spirit sliding out and the spirit rising, as well as showing compassion to Bundy along the way). I learned through this picture that life goes on, energy is indestructible. It is changing, and the Bundy energy has the capacity to become whole and healed on the higher levels of our existence. Thank goodness.

My heart goes out to the families that must live on in this world without their loved ones. It aches to imagine the pain and outrage of these events. But there is a peace that underlies these events that says life continues. The girls sent me these assurances and I believe them with my whole heart. So I continue. I go without fear and work for a university for 14 years, on campus (prime territory for certain kinds of predators), and I walk the grounds through thunder storms, sunshine, soft spring breezes, knowing that life is everywhere, and though it seems it can be cut short without warning, in reality, we are. We are. I am. I am. So we must live and do our best to be the good the world needs so much. We must counterbalance the atrocities. What else is there?

I am grateful for the protection I received that night. I believe absolutely in intuition. I listen to my still, small voice within. If I hadn't, I might not be here today.

Go with courage into your life, and listen, always, to your still small voice within.


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