Through storytelling we know we are not alone. When I was a young girl I often struggled with feelings of loneliness and shame; I had a hard time understanding my own emotions and I couldn’t seem to find context through which I could come to terms with my traumatic experiences. Often times I felt separate from my body, and I worked hard to maintain the distance between my memories and my present being. Only by finding connections and resources through which I could share my pain and hear stories echoed back to me of similar traumas and experiences of healing was I able to accept what had happened to me, not as a defining story, but as a small part in a larger being that is my self. I reclaimed my self ownership and my history by taking apart the clothing I was sexually assaulted in and turning it into a woven statement, a powerful memory that is no longer one of pain, but of personal strength.
Cloth holds great emotional power and significance. When someone gives you an item of clothing, it suddenly becomes more than just a piece of cloth, it takes on a life and a voice of its own. Clothing is a symbol of identity, and thus a potential symbol of connection. Infused with energy and humanity, sweat and scent, clothing becomes as much a piece of us as we become a piece of it, it carries us on its skin as we carry it on ours. What better record log of our day to day humanity exists but the cloth we wear. Clothing tells a story that only its wearer can feel, and its transference allows others to feel the essence of what we have carried with us on our own. Clothing can hold positive memories of the people and activities we love, but it can also carry negative memories of shame and harm as a witness to our trauma.
I am a doula for peoples unresolved pain, through literal separation and deconstruction of clothing and cloth items I take away the weight of the memories one attaches to their item and reform them into something beautiful. By spending time and giving attention to taking apart clothing that holds pain, I allow it to speak and breathe out its old storyline. Through tapestry I give it the time to develop into a new story, one of growth and positive change. By the end of its process, the cloth is in a brand new form and carries new life, ready to face its owner as an image of reassurance and a reminder of strength and value. I use my art to lessen people’s burdens and open the doors for healing past trauma and into a space of acceptance and love. Everyone has a story to tell, and if I could I’d open my ears to the whole world and let it bleed. To be seen and to be heard recounting the worst things that have happened to us, we can grasp the idea that we are not there anymore, we are not that version of ourselves anymore, we are in the present and we are more than our experiences. Through communion we become a small part of something as big as the world, only this time, we will know we are truly not alone in our suffering.