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#365194 - 06/30/11 12:32 AM Moving ahead
Thebo Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 328
Loc: NYC
kb8715 has asked that I post about my decision to go back to school to become an art therapist and any progress I am making. Hope I'm posting in the right place and that it's pertinent.

For those who don't know, I've been volunteering once a week teaching arts and crafts to heroin addicts at a needle exchange program in Manhattan. During my first class I knew this was something I want to do as a profession. I'd been toying with the idea off and on for some time, but this experience is a calling.

The agency where the course takes place exists to reduce the spread of disease, specifically AIDS, by providing clean needles to heroin addicts. If a client wants rehab, the agency refers him/her. The case manager provides support with follow-up. However, my group consists of active users. Most are real thugs, people you would be frightened to meet on the street at noon on any day. Many are homeless. Some will be dead before 5 years pass.

It is amazing what comes out of these people. I'll give a recent example. We recently made "totems" out of painted toilet paper tubes. One guy, BA, glued a wad of cotton on top of a tube, topped it with a blue square of felt, put some more blue felt down the front and used a navy marker to make a definitive large face. I asked what it was. "A graduate from Hunter" (College). He was very emphatic about Hunter. Makes me wonder. Regularly one of them tells me how glad he is that I provide a place where he can forget about everything for an hour.

BR, one of the regulars, lingered after the last class. He looked me square in the eye and said, "Oliver, I've been watching you. I know what you're about." Shocked the pants off of me. He then showed me a canvas he is working on. A depiction of his life (his words),nothing in it is happy. It's a great pen and ink on gray canvas; quite poignant. It is very graphic. The scratchiness of the thin ink lines on the coarse canvas makes for a very strong statement. In the center he has drawn a self portrait of himself crying. Much of his artwork has an eye, which he identifies as his own, with a tear in it.

During almost every session with my T I mention them. My T told me that not only do I provide a safe space, but that they can see the pain from my abuse and know that on some level I relate to the pain they feel. Heroin is a devil that can eat you alive and can own you. Sound familiar? My T is very supportive of my decision to enter the field of art therapy.

I'm 57. Needless to say, I'm totally freaked out, but I've made a resolve. One of my big problems is difficulty following through and lately I've wavered. I mean, here I am making this huge decision to go back to school just as I begin working on this thing called "recovery" as well as having just lost my job. I must be nuts! How I am going to pull this one off is beyond me. A LOT has got to happen before I start in the fall.

My hope is that by becoming an art therapist I can help children who have suffered abuse as I have. I often think if someone had reached out to help me early, I would not be hurting so damned much now. Believe me, my heroin addicts give me much more than I give them. Contrary to what many may think, these are not throw away people. To me they are very valuable. Wish I felt that way about myself. Sound familiar?

Last Thursday I attended a workshop entitled "Art Therapy and Grieving." Lots of fascinating case studies and projects (I am borrowing a few for my guys.) The lecturer is an art therapist and was excited at break to learn of my plans.

The final project of the day was a Soul Collage. We had been asked to bring a picture of something (person, thing, whatever) in our lives we had lost. I had originally thought of a loved one who died 20 years ago, but then changed my mind. In a very brave leap I took a picture of me at 2 years old, soon after my csa began. The requirements of the collage were to choose one background from pictures the lecturer had cut from magazines as well as 4 images from other categories (food and beverage, animals, people, and things.) If we chose to use the photo we brought, it had to be counted among the 4. Then assemble them to create an image expressing where we were at with the subject.

You can image that most people came from fond memories. An empty chair surrounded by images of tea cakes and a particular cologne which reminded a woman of her grandmother. A dog in a warm home with plenty of food and water.

But -- it is interesting how collages, and most artwork, takes on a life all its own. The artist becomes the vehicle.

My collage turned out dark and gloomy - with knives, a shaky, gray, blood-stained earth and the quiet, sad two year old keeping his balance on top of it all. I NEVER thought I would go that route!

After we finished we were to quickly flip our work over and give a title. Don't ask me why, but I hurriedly scribbled "Bloodletting" across the back.

We were invited to place them on the back table to share with the other attendees. I figured, hell, why not? The friend from the needle exchange program I was with said people were quite taken (aback) by it. I felt ashamed I had dropped my shark into the sea of doggies and kitties and grannies and other things sweetly sentimental. Thank God for anonymity.

Only my friend knew it was my collage. Of coarse she asked. I made up a preposterous story about a cousin I was close to who had a horrible end while we were both children. She does not know about my csa. She bought the story. Whew!

The workshop confirmed my resolve, because a lot of my feelings were in those little scraps of paper and, believe it or not, it helps to see those images. My T and I are going to be busy tomorrow. (hehe)

Next step is seeking out financial aid and a job streamlined to accommodate a school schedule and pay the bills. My gut tells me everything is going to fall in place in ways I could never imagine.

I'll keep you posted. Bug the crap outta me if i don't.

Thanks.


T


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#365204 - 06/30/11 09:23 AM Re: Moving ahead [Re: Thebo]
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
Wow, Thebo, I read through your post above with fascination. This is excellent news about what you will be doing, congratulations, and Thank You for wanting to help others like this. I have an art background, too, so I know how helpful it will be to allow those who are hurting to express that hurt, but also feed a creative side of them rather than a destructive one (the addiction). You're doing a great thing, and let us know more as time progresses, I want to keep up on it! smile

_________________________
Eddie

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#365207 - 06/30/11 01:28 PM Re: Moving ahead [Re: EGL]
kb8715 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 808
Art is healing. Creative expression is healing.

Helping others is so healing.

So cool.....

_________________________
"You can get far in life by pushing except through a door marked PULL...." Profile quote in my oldest son's senior year HS Yearbook.

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#365208 - 06/30/11 02:58 PM Re: Moving ahead [Re: Thebo]
mrwhiskers Offline


Registered: 02/22/04
Posts: 193
Im so happy for you Thebo....really happy....its healing...its life going in the best direction
hugs



Edited by mrwhiskers (06/30/11 02:59 PM)
_________________________
"Dont be scared... angels r here" Maria Fernanda (Mafer)

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#365244 - 06/30/11 09:06 PM Re: Moving ahead [Re: mrwhiskers]
CruxFidelis Offline


Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
very proud of you, Thebo!! The creative arts are a wonderful source of healing, glad to see you taking steps not only to heal yourself but to help others heal themselves.

_________________________
“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

- Saint John of the Cross

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#365259 - 07/01/11 03:02 AM Re: Moving ahead [Re: Thebo]
Thebo Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 328
Loc: NYC
My T session tonight was very insightful. He was excited to see my collage and we talked about it and analyzed for most of the session. My T said he can see the process of making the collage then sharing it with him has helped me to be more empathetic towards myself.

The woman at the workshop does collages regularly. I think I will be incorporating them into my own therapy on a regular basis.

T


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#365723 - 07/09/11 06:07 PM Re: Moving ahead [Re: Thebo]
Thebo Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 328
Loc: NYC
Feeling discouraged about everything and I hate myself for it.


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#368670 - 08/22/11 01:10 PM Re: Moving ahead [Re: Thebo]
Thebo Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 328
Loc: NYC
Still plodding along to get my regular life in order. I decided that making the fall semester was too ambitious. Right now I want to land work/jobs that can pay the bills and that allow that I can go to school as well.

Today I have a job interview with a wedding planner. Tomorrow i will be talking to my travel agent about meeting to discuss his new upstart company for gay wedding planning. I'd rather work with him, but today's company's established. Wednesday i have an interview to be an instructor at Michael's Arts and Crafts. Any of these would keep my fingers in the pie, so to speak.

I don't know if anyone has had this happen. When i go on interviews, especially for stuff I like, constantly I hear in my head that I don't deserve it cause I'm bad and dirty and they'll see right through me and be disgusted. It's hard to give a tremendous sales pitch for myself. That cloud hovers over every good thing in my life. I accepted my abusers' identifiers and I cannot shake them. In fact, for 50+ years I've added to those identifiers and they crippled me emotionally. Thank God I'm dealing with this in therapy (I think).

My artwork has entered therapy and has proved a great method of opening things up. I can talk to him easier through the images than finding words that try to explain the inexplicable. The project i use is called soul collage. I recommend it to everyone. Find pictures and backgrounds from magazines and put together a new image which expresses a feeling. So far I've done one on the senses, creativity, ancesters (where creation comes from), sexuality (that was one piece); sex itself; faggot (apologies to everyone who has a hard time with the word, especially pbert); basic need (shelter, food,etc.); despair; isolation; uncertainy. Real fun stuff. It helps. all this stemmed from a workshop I took on art therapy and grieving. My first collage was me after the abuse, called Bloodletting. I don't know why I associate blood with my abuse and I am not ready to look that in the face, but it must be important because it comes up a lot. some of you have seen some of these and one day I will share more.

So that is the direction my decision to pursue art therapy as a career is going. Slow, yes. I mention it here because I value any support I get and for this i need it. As with the interviews, something inside tries to sabotage every good thing I hope for.
Thebo


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#368671 - 08/22/11 01:46 PM Re: Moving ahead [Re: Thebo]
Obi Online   content
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 1338
Loc: kansas
oliver,

a little trick that i used in interviews, that seems to help, is when the person doing the interview asks you if you have any questions to ask, reply with the following...

where do you see this company going in 5 years and my role in making that a possibility...





i've found that saying that shows initiative and that you are willing to go at it for the long haul and not just work a month or two and then quit...

_________________________
live another day. climb a little higher.

my story

my vlog

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#368672 - 08/22/11 01:46 PM Re: Moving ahead [Re: Thebo]
static_00 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/10/11
Posts: 62
Loc: Michigan
((Thebo))

"constantly I hear in my head that I don't deserve it cause I'm bad and dirty and they'll see right through me and be disgusted."

Thank you for posting this Thebo, it helps to hear others that feel the same way and that it's not just me.

I hope that your job prospects work out and that you are able to work and continue with school. It is awesome that you have your Art to help express yourself. I wish I had the talent to create something new.

Wishing you well Thebo,
Eric

_________________________
WoR Alumni
Hope Springs 2011

I've learned that the shame we carry is our overwhelming burden. Amazingly, it does not weigh down others if we open up and share with them. Realizing that the shame is not ours to own makes all the difference in the world.

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