I painted this because I, like all humans, have gone through heavy, life altering traumas.
And I, like all humans, have built up some impressive coping mechanisms to get me through.
But sometimes those coping mechanisms are no longer needed. Sometimes we forget that the storm might have actually passed. We forget to check to see if it is still even raining.
So we walk in the dark heavy shadow of our walls and barriers, and we can’t even see the sun has started peeking out.
I had an image of myself, walking with my umbrella over my head to protect myself from life’s horrible storms. I was so attached to my umbrella that I was walking with it casting a shadow about me, one so dark that I didn’t even know the sky was filled with beautiful colors, rainbows and sunrises and sunsets that I was missing through my trauma scars.
Trauma has such an impact over our health. Health is an expression of who we are and what we have gone through over our entire lifetime. Our cells, organs, tissues, physical body are affected by traumatic experience that quite literally change how our body is able to function.
I’ve written previous blog posts highlighting this, how our body’s health is an expression of our emotional well being, in articles such as:
- The Good News About Trauma Recovery
- Trauma Changes The Health Of Your Body, But It’s Reversible
- Trauma Increases Headache Risk 4-Fold
- OCD May Stem From Birth Trauma
- Heart Disease In Women As A Response To Trauma
- How Grounding Quickly Reverses The Effect Trauma Has On Our Health
- Childhood Trauma Is Scary, Here Are 3 Things That Can Help Your Child Be Resilient
- What Is Stress Sensitization? It’s The Reason This Pandemic Is Traumatizing Us All
What happens to us emotionally when we have trauma, what happens to us when we are under prolonged stress, what happens to us when we are betrayed, neglected, abandoned, sexually abused, or mistreated shows up in painful ways that you can’t ignore.
So we develop impressive coping mechanisms to survive trauma. These coping mechanisms can save our life, but they can also become a burden. Situations change, time goes on, nothing stays the same.
Even your physical body changes from head to toe. In fact it not only changes, it renews every few years… all of your organs (except for one) regenerates, repairs, and optimizes on a continuous basis.
- Some parts of your body are so fresh and new that they are only one day old… the cornea of your eye, for example. Your cornea can completely regenerate every 24 hours.
- Some parts are a little older… the lining of your intestines, for example, are about 3 days old.
- Your skin is about 1 month old.
- Your fingernails have completely grown out and replaced themselves in about 6 months.
- Your taste buds are only 10 days old when they get replaced.
- Your liver regenerates every 5 months.
- Your lungs are renewed every two years.
- Even your bones, the support system of your body, is on a 10 year replacement program.
When we meet a friend we have not seen for six months, there is not one molecule in his face which was there when we last saw him.”
— Harold Saxton Burr
There is only one organ system that sticks with you for your entire lifetime: your brain. Nervous tissue is the slowest to repair, does not increase in cell quantity and unfortunately actually declines in cell quantity over time.
And because of this, what we learned from trauma, what we develop as a response to trauma, is still being run on autopilot in the control center of our brains.
So over time, years and decades later, the only thing that is still locked into place are the coping mechanisms that you must consciously release or they stay with you for the rest of your life.
This painting is a reminder to you to double check if you still need all of those coping skills. Maybe you do. But maybe you don’t. It’s worth taking a look around to see.
I started by painting a dark background — the canvas that is laid for us when we experience a terrible, unwanted, life altering event that we have no control over.
On top of this, I over laid the colors of a beautiful storm ending, colors lighting up the sky after a storm starts to ease.
Of course the dark heavy colors of the storm are underneath, always underneath. Not erased, never erased. Still part of the new landscape, but even with that layer there, forever a part of us, the sky can still come up with some very impressive and very beautiful new colors.
Yet here we are, still holding tightly to that umbrella for protections.
The problem with holding tightly to that umbrella is that you miss everything around you right now — you miss the reality of the current moment lost in a dark shadow from the past, no longer connected to the present.
Well enough is enough.
Peek out from under the umbrella.
Test to see if you still need it. There might just be a sky full of color over head.
This original canvas is the perfect reminder to remind yourself (or your loved ones, or your clients, or your patients) that sometimes we no longer need the umbrella. It is a large, 30″ x 30″ original canvas painting, one of a kind (no prints will be made of this artwork.) framed in a custom hand built solid wood frame and signed by me.
For more details on this original artwork that I call After The Storm, hop over here.
oxoxoxo, Laura Koniver MD