|What Frida taught me.|
An idea that has always fascinated me has been the idea of different selves meeting each other. I had a counselling session many years ago where the counsellor did a guided meditation with me and it had a lasting effect. I had to think of a time when I was really happy as a child. I chose the front garden of my childhood home. I remember coming home to our house after having a wonderful holiday. The sun was shining brightly and I was happy to be home, happy to see my toys and my cat. I started spinning around and dancing on the front lawn. My counsellor asked my adult self to go up to my younger self say hello and hug her. It was beautiful and I started to cry. The meditation stopped there and I was surprised by how the experience had overwhelmed me. During our time together I asked the counsellor to repeat the exercise but she always refused. I suppose the magic and the power of the experience would never be the same.
Fast forward quite a few years and I was in counselling again and the counsellor was asking about different opinions I held and if they came from different voices. Some were my parents' views, some were my adult views but the most urgent came from a small childish voice. I was being treated for anxiety, we were specifically dealing with fears. It helped (even though it sounds crazy) to identify with my younger self and listen to her. I found pieces of myself I had ignored or forgotten about for years. Sometimes doing something for that childish voice - usually something I enjoyed made me happy. I had already kind of connected with her after having my daughter. It helped me relate, to feel bonded, have fun together and I believe be a better mum. When I looked after myself in this way it turned into self care. I realised I had to look after this younger version of myself and it made me wonder if I had any other aspects of myself hidden away.
I started to examine who I was now and I realised had achieved a lot and I felt confident and proud of who I was, something that brought great comfort. I realised I was enough and I coped and worked and cared for others in an effective way, something I had not felt in a long time. The childish version could help the adult version with self care but also introducing fun again when life got too serious.
In recent years I have had to come to terms with caring for the older generation and being a mother at the same time. Age seems cruel, watching how people change and how abilities and sense of self can slip away. Being completely selfish it takes away that older protective generation above you and you realise the power and responsibility has shifted - you are now responsible for everyone. I was able to use the love and care I received to teach me what to do now the tables have been turned. I started to channel an older version of myself based on the love and wisdom I have received to guide me through. The way you see yourself is very important. Personally I need it to be clear and strong a positive reminder that brings me the strength I need.
I was interested in the duality that was portrayed in Frida Kahlo's paintings. Positive and negative sides, healthy and unhealthy. I was also interested in how her husband Diego Rivera was often portrayed as part of her or as her baby. These ideas lent themselves to how I was exploring my different selves. I wanted to find a way of producing a self portrait and carry these aspects with me. It was strange watching the different selves appear. I felt quite nervous and a lot of pressure because of the importance of what I was doing. I didn't really have a plan but as I painted it was almost like I was examining my relationship with these different selves. I felt quite protective of the child and looking at the present self she seemed quite confident but defiant again protecting my younger self. Painting my older self was quite a challenge as I had to confront my fear of becoming older. I wanted to paint an older self I was happy with. Someone who is happy and free, still someone who is able to do the things I enjoy. Someone I still recognize.
I am grateful for this rollercoaster of a project. It has given me so much more than I ever imagined. I now have an army of me's to draw strength from when times get tough but most importantly I feel more peaceful than I ever have.