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So, today I want to talk to you more about the duality of addiction in parts of ourselves that we may show parts of the world. Some of it may be our defenses in how we’ve protected ourselves, and then parts of ourselves that we don’t show, and it’s often related to fear or shame that we don’t do that.
This is an exercise that I did recently with some of the clients here at The Arbor, and they were asked to do masks. And part of that is that reflection of what I show the world or what I want the world to think of me and who I am, and the inside is that piece that I don’t want to show them. And this isn’t something that all the clients necessarily do, but this is a piece that the people with addiction here created. They each had free expression to create how they wanted to, and this is what they chose to do. And it reflects different parts.
The one over here, it’s very creative, very beautiful, lots of color. It looks very well put together, very even-balanced. But on the inside, they never quite got to the inside because of that perfectionism because I have to look so perfect out here and spent so much time out here that I didn’t get the opportunity to really go in here. So, it can be one way to deflect that “I don’t want to look on that inside” or “I’m still not ready to even show that part,” but it also is telling in how our addictions or our defenses of wanting to create and look a certain way or be a certain something that we may or may not be can take up such a good portion of our lives.
And this one here, it’s beautiful as well and creative, also. If you look at this one, it’s a replica of like Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, but here they have a big smiley face because this person, even though there’s a lot of pain and a lot of sadness and has recently experienced a lot of death and gone through a lot of grief and is grieving, puts on that big smile. You know, “Everything’s okay. I’m fine.” And that’s often one of the things we’ll do as well – pretend everything’s okay when inside we really have a lot of pain and a lot of sadness, which is what’s in here. The big bandage over the mouth, you know, don’t talk about it. It says “no”. There’s pain, there’s tears, there’s bruises, which is more of the grief process and this spiritual piece, this hope. But there’s a bandage here, cuts here, bruises for a lot of pain and sadness, but yet I want to hold this. I want to look good on the outside.
And then this last mask here was created and it looks very tigress almost, which a tiger often has strength and protector, loyalty. And this person struggled with that. You know, they said they didn’t want to keep it to look like a tiger, but yet they chose to ‘cause someone talked them into it. So, we talked about how often we do things for others instead of taking care of ourselves and our own needs. We take care of others first and do for them what we think they want us to do or how they want us to act. And yet she created a mask within a mask, so trying to hide, and described these as tears and the sadness, and on the inside was able to reflect more of the pain and the anger that really is what she’s feeling on the inside but wasn’t able to betray that the way that she really wanted to out here because she wanted this to look like everything was okay, and that glitter, that sparkle that it’s okay when really it’s not.
And so this often is what a lot of people that I work with here, it will reflect that in their art or in their words and how they put that, whether it’s on paper or through clay, through something like the masks. You know, different ways that they’re able to express themselves and allow that process to start to happen here and continuing through their journey and doing it in an environment where they’re not ashamed or blamed or criticized and they’re allowed to openly express however they want to in a way that’s able to also be contained and safe.