Othering Me, Othering You

Image shows strands of finger knitted wool of differing lengths arranged in a circle with the ends at the centre in a spiral. The wool is multi-coloured.
Othering Me, Othering You, 2023, Wool

I created this piece using wool. The wool came from a cardigan I made where I found the seams to be too irritating so I unpicked it. I am very sensitive to seams and labels in clothing. I was left with lots of small balls of wool in varying sizes and I followed an intuitive prod to finger knit each ball into a long strand. This took a few months and during this time I was working on my dissertation for my creative psychotherapy master’s, which was a heuristic inquiry into the experience of othering people different from me.

This piece is a creative synthesis of what I found out about myself in the research. It became clear to me that othering people, for me, is a somatic response to being triggered by people that somehow remind me of the people that abused me in childhood. The somatic response of a tightening in my solar plexus then kicks off anxious thoughts that circle in my head. I came to this awareness through creative workshops that I held for myself in which I followed intuitive urges to move, be still, make things, or write. I sometimes found myself walking in a spiral and coming to stillness in the centre, where I would feel and notice.

The space created to feel and notice is depicted in the spiral of wool at the centre of the image. Othering happens regardless of whether I want it to, but I have space to observe, rather than act on it.

Square Dots #1: sexism and dinero

Square Dots #1
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 in
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Being With Trauma Memories Without Shame

Painting black lines and dots on this work in progress abstract painting helped me to process some of my feelings about the childhood sexual abuse memory that emerged. Using arts is a way of expressing something creatively that cannot be expressed in words. The process of using arts can be soothing.
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How to Stop Beating Yourself Up and Feel Happier

I’m late writing this blog post because I had writer’s block. When I delved deeper into why I couldn’t begin writing I found a critical inner voice saying, “no point in writing because people will be like, ugh! Oh shut up!” I asked myself what it was protecting me from and I realised I didn’t want to feel disappointment that people might not read or comment on my blog post. Now I know this I can accept that fear: yes, maybe they will not read or comment, and I will have learnt a bit more by writing, and now I can write. My example highlights one of the purposes of self-criticism: to avoid potentially painful feelings. In this post I’ll share more about why we self-criticise, how self-criticism is linked to the fight/flight system, and how we can stop beating ourselves up and feel happier.

I drew this image in 2018 as a way of externalising that critical voice that beats me up. This is just one of the forms I’ve given it over the years.
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Seeing is believing: how an expressive art grief ritual helped me gain clarity and strength

My expressive art ‘letter’ to my dad who killed himself 39 years ago.
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