Painting Saved my Soul

A few year’s back, I made the very big decision to move out of home for the first time. This was no small undertaking, considering the physical challenges I face with my skin condition (EB) and no form of my own transport. None of the public transport available in my country is a viable option for me either but I didn’t care. I had dreamed of this day for so long and I was going to do it no matter what!

In spite of my father’s Massive misgivings, which he voiced often. I went into my full stubborn mode (fuelled by my father’s discontent) and found a small flat not far from my parents, so if I needed them urgently, they were about a five minute car ride away. I had to be practical. It was the most exciting and scary thing I had ever done.

It was magical, the closest I had ever come to freedom, just me and my two cats. My business had been going well for a number of years, so I was not worried about the greater financial responsibility. My life was just beginning and I could not have been happier. My mom would sometimes cook and freeze meals for me, for the days when my feet or hands were too painful. I had a domestic lady come and clean my flat once a week, for the most part, Life was Great!

Little did I know, moving out on my own was going to be the Biggest healing time of my life. I was merrily cruising through life for about six months, until South Africa was hosting the World Cup Soccer. Well, for me, it was like my business was hit by a nuclear weapon, completely obliterated, just a huge gaping waste land. Many other South African’s experienced the same thing, however I can’t speak for their personal journey.

The proverbial snowball effect kicked into high gear, I was digging into my savings to pay my rent, the stress of it all was affecting my skin. I got a chest infection that I just could not shake, I put my back out and could barely move. My mom was paying for my domestic lady to clean my flat because I was no-where near physically capable and the final blow came when my one cat injured her tail and had to have part of her tail amputated…the vet bills were the final nail in the financial coffin.

I was in an emotional meltdown…my dream was crumbling, I was in so much physical pain, trying to care for my injured cat, feeling So overwhelmed and alone…I just wanted my mommy :)! And then, an amazing thing happened, in amongst the oceans of tears that I shed…I wanted to paint again!!

For various reasons, (which I will probable write about sometime) I had completely abandoned my artwork for many years and all of a sudden… this urge to paint, arose from within. It was about 10pm, I hauled out what art materials I still had left and began to sketch out a face. Before I knew it, it was 2am and I had not cried for hours, nor had my mind drifted to all those panic stricken thoughts of failure and survival. No matter how small that ray of hope was, that painting was the most comforting thing I could have wished for.

ALL that darkness poured straight into that painting and quite literally Saved my Soul. As long as I was painting, my mind had something positive to focus on

‘The Exorcism’ by Cari-Ann

Demons in my headAt that time, I was quite convinced the thoughts in my head were making me crazy. Thing is, they were not just my thoughts. I had all these ‘other’ voices in my head, they were the voices of every person that ever told me I couldn’t do something and I would never amount to anything.

Those thoughts/voices of not being good enough were driving me mad. They had to go and that is the basic representation in this painting.

I had never painted for myself before, it was always commissioned work and I had also never painted raw emotion. My artwork had always been ‘pretty’ stuff. This time it was different, I was going to paint for me!! To hell with what others think. To hell with what others think didn’t last long, as I got some mixed reviews. My dad looked at it and said “okay, that’s different.” with a raised brow. My mom (my biggest fan) said “that’s different, but I totally get it.” She was just happy I was painting again, I don’t think she really cared what it looked like :). Some friends loved that I had thrown off the ‘shackles’ and another friend said and I quote: “I didn’t know you had that side to you and its quite disturbed.” As a result I have never shown this painting to anyone else. I think I was just too fragile at that time for a comment like that.

In the spirit of wanting to make yet another change in my life, I could not think of a more fitting painting to display. 🙂

How did that story end…well a couple of months later, battered, bruised and penny-less, I returned home. With all my dreams lying bleeding before me, feeling like a Huge failure and having to see the look in my father’s eye’s saying ‘I told you so,’ I just slept my life away for the next 3 months. Do I regret any of it? …now, I can truthfully say “not one bit.” Was it hard? …’OH YEAH.” Would I do it again? ….”Not in a hurry.” Funny thing is though, as mutilated as that dream of independence was, it has, over time resurrected itself, albeit in a different way. The most precious gift I got out of this experience, was the re-connection with my art.

This painting was the beginning of the greatest gift that anyone can give to themselves. The gift of being true to oneself and living as authentically as you can. Accepting that within us all exists the light and the shadow. Never stop striving to reach your unique greatness. Exorcise those voices from your head, that tell you, you can’t. It doesn’t matter how the story ends, what matters, is that you pick yourself up again and put your precious heart into what you love and what nourishes you at the deepest level. There are no guarantee’s in life but we all have something that we, at the very least, enjoy doing. Start from there, it will evolve on its own, I promise! Don’t give up yourself, you are worth SO much more.

Now take a deep breath Cari-Ann and click Publish. 🙂


6 responses to “Painting Saved my Soul

  1. Cari-Ann what a powerful testimony of your struggle. I both admire and can relate to your struggle and art as the carthatic tool that frees us. I can relate because of my own struggle in the past (substance abuse) and my tranformation to recovery through art, personal accountability and the mind / body connection. I really can see your pain in this painting. Thank you for expressing your thoughts and feelings; giving us the strength to believe in ourselves as well. I posted a video on my blog a few weeks ago that revisits in a post recovery way, a reminder of the sadness of the past struggle. I will send you a link it is entitled: The World Behind You.

    • Oh my, Thank You Walter, for the wonderful comment :). You have totally made my day. I’m so happy you ‘Got It’. So often when we are going through our struggles, our world becomes so small and its hard to remember we are not alone and there is always a ray of hope in the hopelessness. Its always wonderful to meet a fellow artistic gladiator :). Thank you for finding my site and telling me about your video, I have watched it and left a comment…brilliant!! Take good care and wishing you continued success on your journey.

  2. It’s hard to ignore that inner artist. I stopped writing for 15 years, and picked it up when I most needed and haven’t stopped. Every artist should perform an exorcist of their demons and the naysayers. It just takes so much strength. So happy you found yours! I love your art and your story.

    • Bless you, you are very kind. Agree whole heartedly. Your comment definitely reflects the wisdom of someone who has also walked through the mind field of those demons. I’m so happy you also found the strength not to ignore your inner artist because you have a gift with your writing…I’m a Big fan! 🙂

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