Photographic artist using the camera as my tool for healing

Landscape of Healing - Day 1

I don’t know what my initial plan was in scanning a childhood image and working with it.  Would I blur my face? That is how I internalized my childhood.  I don’t know what I wanted as an end result.  This created conflict and it took me weeks to finally sit down at the computer and start working.  

I scanned the image today.  First thing I noticed when I uploaded the high-resolution scan into Photoshop was the multiple imperfections.  Daunting imperfections.  I stopped and stared into my own image and cried.  Was this before the trauma that would unfold?  I couldn’t know.  My mind won’t let me; not yet.  It doesn’t feel I’m ready.  I haven’t done enough work.

I applied a grid to the image.  Perfect squares on top of an imperfect image.  Then the idea came to me; take it layer by layer, square by square.  Some squares will take longer.  Some will frustrate me.  I have to unpack this image the same way I am unpacking my childhood.  My therapist teaches me that nothing is normal.  Each person, each heart, each mind, needs to heal in his or her own way.  There is no time-frame for healing.  And there is no such thing as perfection, and I desperately want to believe that. 

As I go square by square, zoomed in 250%, never allowing myself to look at the image as a whole, my mind wanders.  I stop to type. I take a drink.  I go pee.  I leave the darkened office and look out the window into daylight.  Why was this specific moment in my life important enough to be captured?

There’s overlap on some squares.  At times I look back on a square I worked on and think to myself, it’s not good enough.  It’s not good enough.  It’s not good enough. I cry.  And I have to stop editing.  I have to remind myself where I am, what I’m doing, and that I’m not The Invisible anymore. I find myself wishing the real scars can be erased the same as I am able to erase the scars on the screen.

I have fixed a dozen or so squares but I have yet to develop a pattern of repair.  Random clicks in random places; but it’s repaired so why does it matter if it’s not organized?  I cry. I want to be organized.  

I want it repaired now.  My anxiety grows at staying on task.  My mind wants to take a trip into the past and I am not sure I can go.   There is so much damage.

I fixed a spot then hit control+Z.  I can’t do that.  There is no control+Z in life.  It cannot be undone.  New rule: no control+Z. With this new rule, I find myself editing more carefully.  Is this the lesson I am to learn?  Be careful of the choices made because you cannot use control+Z.  For some reason, I’m angered by this.  Not at myself, but at the adults in my life during my childhood that did not, would not, or could not learn this lesson.

I’m listening to classical music.  I hear someone breathing deep with the musical notes.  I can’t tell if it’s in the music or if it’s me.

After working on a more difficult square for a length of time, the square begins to look beautiful and less damaged to me.  The colors flow and this square of the image looks more like a masterful painting than my damaged childhood.  That one square is beautiful all on its own.  It becomes independent of the other squares.  A half inch repaired masterpiece.  What will the end result be if I work harder on only some squares?  

What happens to a person who spends their life protecting and defending child predators?

One perfectly repaired square in a sea of damage.

One perfectly repaired square in a sea of damage.