Recently a reader asked me about the picture quilt I referred to when I responded to the comment he left on the post Organized? I was telling him about the process which I have been referring to as my "picture quilt." So I thought I would write a post just about the quilt.
Here it goes---------
I went to a therapist several years ago, and she asked me to go home and look at pictures from my childhood, specifically from ages 8 to 12. But I am stubborn and when I don't want to do something, I won't, and I didn't. I never actually did that while I was seeing her.
Fast forward a few years---------
Over the years, my husband has been really trying to help me to figure out what going on with me that stops me from being the person I say I want to be. Last summer, we were once again talking about me and my issues and the idea came up for me to look at my pictures from my childhood. I agreed that it would be a good action to take to help myself with myself.
I must add here after reading this over that as I describe what I did, it sounds very linear and like I did it in a timely manner. No, no really. My husband had to prod me more than once to continue on this journey (and he still does, bless his heart! He is an amazing man!!!) It wasn't until last November that I started to record the time I spent on it each day to keep myself accountable to working on it everyday. I did that for 4 months, working almost every day, for 10 to 100 minutes.
Okay that said-----
I started by going through my pictures and collected all the pictures I could find from ages 6 to 15. All of my pictures are in small plastic bins and are not in chronological order. I did the best I could but soon realized that I really wasn't sure exactly what age I was in the pictures.
Looking through all those pictures really began the process of seeing my life and where I've been and who I was. (Which became a window into who I am still am.)
So then I went through all the pictures again to look for the pictures that had dates attached to them and set all of those out on the dining room table in order. I took several pictures of those pictures, both of the whole thing (see below this paragraph) and close ups of every 2 pictures or so. My plan was to use those pictures to put the stack of pictures I chose before in chronological order.
This was fascinating to look at my self from ages 1 to 15. I saw how I grew , how I changed, what I looked like over the years, and it was odd and good. I remember being the age of a lot of the pictures past age 4 but how often do I think back and picture myself at those ages? Not often. I really enjoyed seeing myself.
Next, I took pieces of butcher paper about 3 feet by 2 feet ish and began to put the pictures down in order. It took me over a month to get the pictures in order. I put them down and then over and over moved them around to get them into an order that seemed right. I taped the pictures down and when I was finished I had 6 big pieces of paper covered with 20 to 30 pictures each.
I thought I had really started to process of seeing the quilt before that. Not so. :) It wasn't until the whole thing was in order that I began to do the real work. I could not actually see me until the whole picture order part fell into place.
Here, I faltered. I was not sure what to do with these pictures. So I just started making comments about the picture on the paper below the pictures. It was sporadic. I commented on a a picture or two from each page and then would move on o the next page and do the same. The comments were like "I look unhappy here", "I loved this dress." As I was doing this, I was talking to my husband about what I was doing and discovering. (Yes, often because of his loving push.) He had been talking to me about looking at the fantasy of my childhood and the reality. That helped me to started looking at every picture and writing down the fantasy and the reality of every picture. That took a couple of months. I couldn't force a response to any picture so it came "naturally" (I put that in quotes because what really is naturally?) I sat down, started with one end of the time line, 6 or 15, and wrote something about some picture, always both fantasy and reality ideas, and then flipped to the next page in the tine line and did the same. I did this over and over. By the end of 2 months or so, all the pictures had comments about what I thought was going on and what was most likely going on.
This helped me to see that I had blown so many unimportant things way out of proportion and let some very big things just slip under the rug. The pictures clearly showed that I was increasingly angry over time about unimportant things; I believe to try to let out some of the hurt, fear, loneliness, and pressure I felt about the problems my parents were having, but no one was talking about. Yet the pictures also showed me good times and positive things my parents, family, and friends did for me. It made me both sad and happy to work through the pictures that way. But regardless of how I felt, I was able to see many misconceptions I had/have about life.
I had gotten really far by then in the process of seeing my quilt and who I am/was. But I wanted to see more. I had committed myself to working on this every day so I had to figure out what else to comment on. I got creative. I commented on any pattern I could see. Parents standing together or apart, me touching people in the picture or not, my facial expressions, what I was wearing, what I was doing or not doing, what I seemed to like or not like, anything I could see more than a few times, I commented on. Patterns emerged, and I stated to see the patterns I used to and do live now. :)
It was hard to look at myself in this way, a more logical, analytic way (which I was not completely successful at and still aren't,) instead of the very emotional way I looked and look at myself on a daily basis. (I still do this most of the time,; I am working on more logic and less emotionality.)
So yeah, that is what I did to look at the quilt of my childhood. It was uncomfortable and fabulous, at times, and is still helping me to see me and then get to the best me I can be!! ( Yes, I am old enough to remember the Army slogan "Be all that you can be!" and I did just reference that.:) Hee-hee! ;) )
Wow, long post! Thanks for reading and hope all is well in your world.