This is my fragmented heart – a response to what I heard and saw and felt on Friday when I attended Edge Hill University Arts Centre event – The Role of the Arts, Arts Therapies, and Psychotherapies in Supporting Mental Health in Black and Allied Communities. The words around the heart are a quote from Andrea-May Oliver, which blew my mind:
“Ancestors, thank you for walking the path we wouldn’t dare to tread.”
And at the bottom is another quote from Samantha Adams, which forms the title of my piece: “Creativity is the First Medicine.”
As someone who experienced sexual, emotional and physical abuse in childhood and daily discriminations of sexism throughout life, I can attest to creativity as first medicine. When I was in the midst of a breakdown 11 years ago and I could not get the mental health help I needed, art was there. Without art I would have been in a dark hole for a long time.
I made a sculptural piece on canvas and wrote a poem on it. This is the poem:
I am not broken I don’t need to be fixed What I need is presence For my parts to be mixed
Trauma, any trauma regardless of the discrimination that caused it, can be healed with expression in safe arms. It’s hard to go there, to those places of pain, and it must be done gently, allowing the pain to bubble up rather than go seeking it. It’s so worth it. The more we do the inner work, the more we honour ourselves, our ancestors, the people we share this planet with and we can create heaven on earth if we can hear one another’s pain, have a conversation about it, a dance, a song, throw away what is no longer needed in the fire and create together. That’s what we’re here for. We are creative beings. Let’s create some magic!
Once upon a time, in the absence of loving kindness, a black hole appeared. It was deep and dark and its edges were ringed with hurt. Its hunger knew no bounds and was constantly looking for satiation.
One night something hard, yet squidgy, filled it for a while and though it didn’t feel right, it was secret and special. More, it wanted more! And it ate the rage, the fear, the confusion, the shame, the desire. It gorged on hard, yet squidgy, until it could know nothing else. They were made for each other.
Suddenly, hard, yet squidgy, stopped visiting and a blanket of black covered the hole, lifting only to allow it to binge on other shameful things. The blanket was heavy and yet provided a kind of comfort, keeping the status quo.
Eventually a compassionate eye rested its gaze on the black hole, letting it know that it could, if it wanted to, tell its story. It did. And it began to understand its need to binge and that it could begin to feel, not eat, the confusing array of emotions.
As it felt its feelings, the heavy, black blanket disintegrated and the hole began to build structures of peace and fulfilment. What strange, beautiful structures they were. They curled and curved around and out, and developed a weird and wonderful life of their own.
Once upon a time a seed landed on the top soil of a freshly dug garden. Laying on the moist earth, it felt at home and began to send roots down into the darkness amongst the worms and other night crawlers. It lay like this for a while through rain and shine, night and day, until it was time to send a shoot skyward. Almost immediately a bird arrived to sing to the new growth encouraging it to burst forth in the way only this shoot could.
The plant that was a seed drew up the soil’s nutrients and its shoot divided into three leaves of vibrant green with red dots. Humans came to lay turf and their boots halted near the plant. They gazed and murmured, then the boots stepped away. Gently, and with minimal vibrations, they laid the turf around the plant, cutting a circle for the place it had claimed as home.