Lonely Teenage Part Discovered Whilst Painting Dots

I tapped into a teenage part of me whilst painting dots. I was feeling lonely. One of the things I love about painting is the meditative aspect. I can sit and be aware of thoughts, feelings and sensations without the need to act on them because I’ve dedicated myself to the task of painting dots. I first became aware of this choice in relation to thoughts when I painted Constellation in 2009. It was a revelation! I don’t have to act out every thought and impulse!

Words Judge Feelings

As I sat painting dots I was aware of a deep ache in my chest and the words, “oh my god, I’m so lonely!” that disconnected me from the feeling. The words judge the feeling as bad. The words have a tone and a voice that is teenage. I recognise the feeling as a yearning for love and connection with one parent who is unable to and a longing for the other parent who checked out of this life long ago. That yearning has sadness at its edges and a deep well of despair. But I couldn’t feel it with those words commenting on the experience; those words distract from feeling. That’s what I did as a teenager alone in my room. I wrote words of despair over and over in my diary until I wanted to sink into deep, dark oblivion to make the pain go away. This is not the way.

Compassion Makes You Feel Better

Recognising the voice and words as distracting, I continued to sit painting dots and noticing the lonely feeling as it ebbed and flowed. The teenage voice attached itself to the feeling as it surged and I thought, ‘yes, no wonder you feel so lonely. It makes sense given the lack of care from your family,’ with my compassionate core. I cried then. I felt better after.

Our Parts Need to Be Heard and Acknowledged

This feeling had been building for a while, triggered by various events and people in the previous week or so. The teenage part needed to be heard and acknowledged. I wrote a poem in my creative writing group a few days before sitting with the lonely feeling. It contains a whisper of the foreshadowed loneliness.





Finding the way.

My way.

Mapping the territory in my head.

Walking it out.


I begin to know the ground,

the trees,

the air,

the land.

My connection forms.

We connect in non-verbal ways.

My feet touch.

My face feels.

My ears breathe in the sounds of

trousers brushing,

feet stepping,

leaves dancing,

birds chatting.

In new places it’s hard to breathe sometimes.

Overwhelm of senses,

of beauty,

of choices.

People and dogs say, ‘good morning,’

and I beam at them

grateful for the normal interaction,

and lonely at my aloneness.

People are kind,

filling up my water bottle.

I realise the interdependence,

the need,

the exchange,

which cannot be forced into capitalist games;

kindness does not fit in these.

Finding my ways

of living;

systems making life easier,

satisfying the tick list part of me,

making me feel safe,

known to myself.

Then maybe…

maybe I have a base

from which to explore,

and grow,

and know

the land,

as I tread lightly upon it.

Finding my ways

of connecting

with people who have needs, like me.

I listen to their stories,

honoured to hear them.

They share their dramas

and their joys.

There are so many ways of living.

I learn from them.

They are beautiful,

like the land.

We connect.

We respond.

We create.

Below are some photos of the dots painting in progress. It’s called Square Dots #4.

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