Art as therapy.
Thursday, 09.23.2010 - 2:25 pm.

A few weeks ago, I was debating whether to go to Houston/New Mexico at the end of the year, to reunite with two of my brothers and their families (and my parents, who are also traveling). I said I wouldn't go, because I'm standing on a very unstable ground in terms of income. But one of my brothers is paying for my parents' tickets so they had some money to spare and offered it to me.

And I thought, hey, they're giving me a free trip. Why not? I'd thought I wanted to spend the holidays with my friends (*cough* and my dog and cat) and it'd be a new experience to be without my family but, um...what would I do for a week at home? Sure, I could go out, have a get-together...but I decided against it. Knowing me, I'd get bored quickly and not get much done during the day. I wouldn't go out much either, because I have to be specially careful with my spending nowadays. In the first stages of this diary, I would complain a lot about wasting my days doing nothing.

So two days ago, I got my ticket to Houston. I'll be leaving on the 23rd of December. On that same day, my family in Houston won't be there. Nephew #1 will fly in from New York and Brother #1, his wife and my niece will fly in from Montana (my niece is coming back from her program; we're hopeful but worried). They all arrive late at night so I'll spend half a day hanging out at the airport, and I'm crossing my fingers there will be wireless connection.

On the 24th, the four of them and I will leave at 4 am, to go road-tripping all the way to New Mexico and be there in the afternoon. There we'll meet with Brother #2, his wife and awesome toddler, my parents and Nephew #2 (who is traveling with my parents, he's my sister's son). Maybe my sister will join us, if she can solve some paperwork, but that'll require for her to travel to El Paso so she can be picked up by my Brother #2 there and be taken to NM, a three-hour-drive (six for him, back and forth), since there are no airports in the small town where Brother #2 lives. Brother #3 won't be with us, he is going to Spain to meet with his wife, who's getting her PhD.

Sounds tiresome and a lot of sacrifice but I'm excited and you bet all those crazy logistics will pay off starting with our Christmas dinner. I love my family, man.


This week is my last module of my Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy course, and we're studying Art Therapy. Actually, we're experiencing it. We have talked very little about it, other than the introduction, but I'm really enjoying my time there. On monday, we drew with pencils and pens. On tuesday, with acrylic and regular paint and watercolor and chalk and color pencils. Last evening, we did little sculptures with mud and clay.

To be an art therapist, you have to take formal art courses for over a year, and it's amazing how that translates into the clinical environment. Our art therapist is not concerned about technique or outcome but rather about the process. It's supposed to be a safe space to make mistakes, build, rebuild, ellaborate, symbolize, you name it. And not every material works the same for everyone (like, an anorexic girl, given that her disease comes from a struggle with control, would get very frustrated with watercolors). I noticed that myself, I felt more comfortable with some materials than with others. The sensations were different, too.

So, anyway. We had a cue before we started any project. Most of my creations have to do with fragmentation, which is how I've been feeling lately regarding my chaos that is Joseph. The last cue of the class, to work with clay, was to model a conflict we were having and didn't know how to approach or solve.

I made two small figures next to each other, representing JC and his girlfriend, and then two other figures representing Joseph and his wife carrying his baby (aka The Tool Bags, as Miss V kindly put it, making me laugh out loud).

Then, without much thought, I started to make snakes. And I rolled them around JC and Joseph, inevitably touching their partners. JC's snake was around his body, playfully, you may say. Joseph's snake, on the other hand, was around his neck, as if choking him. And I started -in my mind- to call Joseph a monster, something I've been doing lately, and telling the both of them that if they haunt me, I'll haunt them back. I'll haunt their current relationships and I won't leave them alone. I'm a snake and I'm always around, silently but undeniably.

Pretty cool, huh?

I ended up with pain in the back of my neck and shoulders, but the art therapist asked at the end of the session if we had found a new perspective to approach our conflict. Why, yes! I had never seen myself as someone strong enough to haunt people that have hurt me. Maybe JC, whom I think feels guilty for what he did to me; which is perhaps why I wasn't choking him, he already has a burden. I know Joseph doesn't give much thought to anything, so I'm not someone he would think of on a daily basis. But there I was, choking him....the more he denies me, the harder I'll come back for him. Sucker.

It was very therapeutic, really. I'd never given myself that much credit as a part of Joseph's mind. Me, his loyal girlfriend for over four years, dumped one day to find out, four months later, that he got married. Shouldn't I get some credit? And it may not be true what I did, that he thinks of me, he doesn't feel any guilt for destroying me like that, but in art and playing, there's a part of your mind that's not reality or fantasy but it's also both. And so I run to that part of my mind and say, be haunted, motherfucker.

And maybe it was all that re-ellaboration what made me dream of him last night, after not doing it for quite a while now. AND, my dream was completely different this time. I always dreamed of him living in a big house, his parents' house, with a beautiful and succesful wife and a cute baby loved by everyone. I was always the one to show up to his place and be forced to see how happy he is without me.

This time, I was at a two-story restaurant and he walked in with friends. I was with my own friends and pretended I hadn't seen him, but he stood next to me and bent over, so even though I was sitting and he was standing, his face was next to mine, as if he was going to come closer and whisper something. He didn't. He just smiled at me. I don't know what kind of smile, maybe something like "hey, how's it going?", I think I got confused by his attitude, maybe even a bit angry, and that confusion woke me up.

I don't know what to say to end this entry.

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