Sunday, September 30, 2012

The blank canvas

I had the most wonderful Psychologist/Psychiatrist (I still fail to understand the difference between them both, but I prefer to use ologyst, because it has a nicer ring to it) when I was in hospital, Dr. Prinz.
I came to understand that what makes a great psychologist is his ability to not make you feel like a person with an "issue". A great psych is a person who sees you, the person, before it, the problem. Prinz never treated Anorexia, he treated me, to strengthen me and help me gain a better understanding of me, Belle, in that way giving me the tools to beat anorexia. He taught me that I  have my own identity, that anorexia wasn't it, that I could do better than it.

In hospital I learnt to enjoy art and creativity, a concept that, in earlier days, had been far removed from my sphere of interest. As I had nothing else or no other occupation in hospital, I started to take art and craft classes. The beginnings were a struggle, because what I had created was never good enough, never perfect enough in my eyes and I always took great pleasure in destroying what I had created just so I could let out my anger and frustrations of not having the ability to create perfect things which, in essence, would have made me feel that bit more perfect.

Maybe anorexia is a physical manifestation of your whole being attempting to reach its perfect state and balance, may I even use the word homeostasis...? If you are perfect on the outside it would obviously reflect a perfect internal life resulting in a perfect person. By losing weight, by altering our shape, our exterior appearance, we adhere (and I use `we`as a general term, which can also include numerous other addictions and obsessions) to perfect ourselves as a person. Ironically we remove ourselves from that homeostatic state the more we torture ourselves chasing that ideal image.
Anorexia reflects an insecurity of self. It becomes a force that brings out the worst, not the best in you. It becomes a quest for physical perfection that seems to be marked by a body that is bare, that has no form or shape, let alone life. It becomes a bare/blank canvas.

I was sitting in Dr Prinz's office. We were discussing my inability to complete an artwork and my great ability at destructing and destroying the artwork.
"I just don't understand why I can't do it well enough... I can never make the picture on that canvas look beautiful... I'm just not good enough." Prinz sat there for a while, with a victorious smile invading his face, quietly glancing at me. This irritated me quite a bit. What was he thinking? Was he mocking me? Was he thinking 'finally she realizes that she's hopeless at art'? No. Instead, after what seemed to be an eternity, he got up, walked accross the room and high fived me. SMACK (it was a good high five that was deserving of another high five to celebrate the greatness of the previous one).

My frustrations about finding my perfect self, about creating the perfect body had translated into the way I viewed the art I was creating. The key word is canvas. Prinz went on to say 'The thing is you as a person, you as a body are a blank canvas. You can do anything you want with it until you've created the artwork that you like. Your whole life you can alter its look. You can add or change color, you can expand it, make it smaller, you can do anything you like, just stop destroying it or else there will be nothing left in the end.'
Now it was my turn to look at him blankly, speechless. it took me a while to comprehend what Prinz was getting at, it even challenges my thoughts at times now, but it has also become a comforting thought.

From then on I tried to see myself as that blank canvas, because I couldn't strip myself anymore bare than I already had. I was ready to add life to my lifeless self. Knowing that I had the control to alter the look of the artwork I was creating, gave me a sense of security, it also posed as a challenge.

I'm still working on my artwork. At times I like what I see, at times I don't. But from that session with Prinz, I learnt not to destroy what I didn't like, but simply to change the color, shading or form, until it felt right for that moment in time.

We are an ever evolving artwork, all beautiful and perfect in our own right.

No comments:

Post a Comment