I sit here writing and feel for just a moment a touch of sadness arising; for I allowed the insanity of the mind to value above all else a less than thirty second conversation to have so much power. The ability to shut down and close off all creative juices, the very life force energy that breathes us and lives through us is really quite amazing. I become another body in space and time (one of the living dead)stumbling around on this beautiful planet in a daze trying my best to achieve the impossible – pleasing everyone!
The last days of high school are fast approaching for me and I am feeling excitement, sadness, and scared all at the same time! No more study, no more regimented rules to abide by, and no more uniform. Yeah!
I have grown to detest this horrid bottled green pleated tunic, white shirt, thick woollen blazer and beret – yes, a beret that would not stay put on my head and caused many lunch time detentions.
These mixed feelings stir within the body and are ignored, avoided, and suppressed into the subconscious. By not recognising that they even exist, the tension in the nervous system already coiled and twisted tightly, feels normal to me. I have cleverly learned to numb out when feeling any emotion.
Each day, I travel an hour by bus and then take a three station train ride to and from school. I suddenly realize that I may never see again the girls I have shared the last three years with in high school. This saddens me.
Fearful of not passing the exams adds to the dilemma of what career opportunities would be available to me. My desire is to become a nurse, but my mother talks me away from following this path and I allow myself to take on her negative beliefs around some of the nursing duties and the all-night shifts involved.
Reflecting back to the beginning of this last year of school, I remember our class teacher Ms. Bowen, who comes into the room once a day to call the attendance roll – she is always stern and never looks happy. When she hears that I have been nominated for the position of Class Captain, she tells the class that I am not a suitable candidate and to consider selecting someone else who would be more appropriate to run for this position. Hearing her words I feel so belittled… all I want to do is slide off the chair and disappear into the narrow crack between the wooden floor boards.
My desk is positioned near the window, so I turn and look out at the blue sky wishing I am somewhere else hiding my face that is now turning a brilliant shade of red.
I fight back the tears squinting and blinking rapidly to stop the flow. I achieve this reversal and swallow the tears instead which are now running down the back of the throat.
The next day, we vote, and to my astonishment and her obvious disapproval, I am elected Class Captain by the majority of votes.
A sympathy vote?
I am feeling overjoyed to even give that a thought! I am enjoying the victory and watching her squirm behind her desk, an air of one-upmanship is present and running within me.
Her stony-faced glare directed towards me suggests that she is certainly not happy I will be holding this position. As well as our roll-call teacher, Ms. Bowen, also teaches Art, Geography, and English. Gladly, I am only in her Geography class.
The other art teacher is a male we call Mr. Stewart. He is a happy and fun teacher who always inspires the class and encourages me to pursue with the abstract style of paintings that I am creating.
The final week of school looms near and our art class decides to have a farewell lunch party to celebrate our last class together. We invite the other art class to join with us and an exhibition/competition is suggested.
On hearing the news that the headmistress has declared a non-uniform day for the students who are participating in the exhibition, a buzz of excitement fills the room.
I dress the morning of the exhibition excitedly wearing an earthy, terracotta-coloured, cotton sleeveless dress; it has a scoop neckline with small buttons down the front and a full flared skirt. I borrow my older sister’s stiffly starched rope petticoat to enhance the flared skirt, adding a thin brown leather belt around the waist. I wear a suspender belt with seamed stockings and pointy toed flat heeled shoes. I feel I look really cool and decide to allow my sun bleached hair to fall loosely on my shoulders.
We set up long wooden tables in the quadrangle area at the back of the tuckshop and display the paintings along with the party sandwiches we are asked to bring for a shared lunch.
The other students not involved in Art classes are invited to vote as well during lunch break.
We play music celebrating in dance and song, singing along with the lyrics having so much fun in playful rivalry with the other class.
The two art teachers Mr. Stewart and Ms. Bowen gather our attention to announce the winner of the competition and without a trace of expectancy they call my name.
I scream in delight! Mr. Stewart comes over to congratulate me and I find myself innocently flirting with him in the excitement.
He has encouraged me constantly throughout the year and is delighted that one of his students has won.
Is it flirting or just a friendly rapport between teacher and student knowing we will never see each other again?
I am standing on my own when Ms. Bowen comes up to me.
I naturally think she is about to congratulate me like everyone else. I feel the sting in her every word, each one steeped in venom, as she utters, “What you paint is not art. You have no talent and you will never make it as an artist!”
I stand on the spot dumbfounded feeling the energy drain from the body as I give power to her words; I allow the mind to amplify and echo back what she has just spoken.
She turns and walks away.
In this very moment I have just been given a beautiful gift – a choice point!
But of course, being totally unconscious, I do not see it as such.
The mind goes into defence.
Why did I win the contest? Why is Mr. Stewart so nice to me? Does he fancy me? Why was he encouraging me if I have no talent?
Her words repeat over and over in the mind blocking out all rational logic.
“What you paint is not art! You have no talent and you will never make it as an artist” repeats itself ad nauseam like a stuck needle on a vinyl record.
I leave school a few days later and never pick up a paint brush again – not until I am in my late forties – early fifties.
To take on her belief structure (just as I did my mother’s disapproval with the nursing profession) and not follow my heart or hear the encouraging words of Mr. Stewart is a choice coming from a deep unhealed wound of an abusive father who left the family unit when I was around five years old. Not trusting the masculine voice of authority, I elect to hear the negative voice as a caring mother figure who knows what’s best.
Ms. Bowen was the antagonist set before me by the ‘Love of Grace’ at a critical stage of my developing adolescence years but the deep seated beliefs of “I’m not good enough – what will people think of me” and all of the rest of the fear driven thoughts that arise, have already established a home within the cellular structure of the body and the unconscious mind of ego!
So I got busy doing! Doing what pleased the persona self and others but doing is very different to creating!
And what I resisted to question, resisted to feel and heal not only persisted but intensified over the years and knowing there are no mistakes, accidents or coincidences, ever, only Holy Perfection– this journey has been amazingly miraculous and astoundingly awesome in so many ways…
Ms. Bowen and Mr. Stewart showed up many times over the years, in many guises, many forms of experiences but that’s another story…