The Only Safe Space

5/30/2018

We talked a lot about the concept of impermanence. The colors were bright and the idea scared me. I was present, some of the time, but answered, “Bubbles!” at a less than ideal moment. I went outside in a very dark space and started blowing bubbles I had in my purse. As I pondered, I watched the bubbles pop – like Cinderella does when she’s scrubbing the floor and singing. I watched the bubbles pop. And it dawned on me that they were proof I am capable of accepting an impermanent thing without freaking out.

Then I figured I should probably go someplace safe. At first nothing came to mind, but then I remembered I have a list of places on a crisis plan in my journal. I tried to recall them instead of looking and, as the places came to mind, I asked myself what they all had in common… The only thing these places had in common was me. So, the only safe space is me. It’s a lot to take in.

Session 5/30/18, Drawing 6/19/19, Description 7/7/18
© Michelle Routhieaux 2018

 

Permission to Breathe

From Session Work – 5/15/2018

18-05-15 Yoga Therapy Art_0160

Excerpt from related writing:

“S- is right. I have been losing weight… If I inhale just right, like in lyrical dancing or turns, that feeling comes back. Bone sticking out, ribs expanded, hollow underneath, organs hug my spine, shoulders down, hips squared, head high, sometimes on my toes with beautiful arms, or just the torso part with the rest dancing in my head. I haven’t had the privilege of that feeling in a very long time. And if I can do that again, then it’s okay to make shapes when I breathe. The crescent moon – belly soft and round on one side but when you spin it around the other side is concave. Just like my belly when I breathe or dance. I’ve been thinking about this symbol. I drew it on my hand so every time I look down I see it. It gives me permission to breathe. I AM the crescent moon… I even hate my body less today.”

© Michelle Routhieaux 2018

God Loves

2-12-2018When I was really little I used to get bored in church. I was that kid that couldn’t stand children’s church when it was really daycare but had no idea what the pastor was talking about in actual church. So my mom and I would pass notes and sometimes she’d write phrases for me to copy.  This is one of those phrase papers. I found it in a box of things from before I was 5. :)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2018

Update on Ellie

1/16/2018     2:32am

So, Ellie had her last surgical check this week and the surgeon said she’s doing “Terrific!” They are amazed at her progress from paraplegic to walking around now and playing, and she just started physical therapy last week. He said we’re doing a great job with whatever we’re doing. I am so happy. I am grateful for everyone who helped out with the fundraiser in prayer or money and am grateful to have my dog back. She still has some pain and stiffness and walks a bit weird but I’ll take it. ;) Thank you SO MUCH.

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© Michelle Routhieaux 2018

Finger Spots

1/10/2018     10:44pm

IMG_20180110_223233

I wanted to share my latest coping skill – memory on my fingers. Ever since my drawing Spots of Self-Compassion I’ve been using my pink Sharpie to remind me to have self-compassion. I put dots on my fingers or the inside of my wrist or up my arm. When I see the dots I hear “self-compassion” and, even if just for the moment, I soften my stance against myself and breathe. I choose what’s best for me.

A friend got me a collection of a bunch of new nail polishes and I’ve had designs running through my head for weeks – literally. What I really wanted to do was way more complicated. In my mind I saw white with pink dots on my left hand with “BE” on two fingers instead of dots. I wanted my right hand to have a different color on each finger and for the fingers to spell out “CHOOSE” in black letters with an infinity symbol on my middle finger instead of the letter Os. That was way too complicated for me to pull off right now and I’m pretty sure it would cost way too much for me to ask for at the nail place. I decided to go with just white and pink dots.

Yesterday I had an appointment with my doctor in the morning and I was actually on time, except that she forgot I was supposed to be there so I didn’t get to see her. That gave me some extra time to pick up my shoes from the cobbler and sit in the car marveling at the rain. I had time, which is new to me. I sat in the car listening to piano music and started the process. I’d hunted down some cheap white nail polish. This has been on my mind for weeks. I didn’t try to make it pretty. What’s the use if I’m not finished? I needed to be on time for David’s anyway. I finished the white, which honestly looks like white-out, and went into my appointment. He was quite unkind about the messy nails. I think he should be more appreciative of coping skills that live on my hands.

That night I finished them. I tried making dots with nail polish but it was nearly impossible to make circles so I switched to Sharpie. Tip – If you put a top coat over Sharpie the color runs a little. I put glitter over the top of that and the parts that ran are less noticeable. I left the two fingers with nail polish dots as somewhat of an exposure. Each time I look at them I choose to accept that they don’t match and to keep them that way.

Are my nails perfect? No. Neat? No. Will the polish last a long time? Not likely. Do they look great? Not really. Will anyone else understand without an explanation? Not likely. But you know what? I don’t care. These dots on my nails have already proved majorly helpful in redirecting me from intense emotion or self-judgement or shame to self-compassion, to moments of breathing, to small reminders that in every moment I get to choose. I am grateful for the coping skill that lives on my nails right now.

I challenge you to put a coping skill on yourself somewhere you look often. Where could Sharpie spots help you?

© Michelle Routhieaux 2018

PLEASE

9/16/2017

It was the coolest thing. Usually I have trouble feeling connected, like I could be pressed hand to hand with you but not feel you – like there was a glass wall between us. But it wasn’t so at this yoga event I went to last Sunday. I knew the teacher and brought a few friends. It was literally us (the yoga people) and then the waves. And in between I lost the glass for awhile. I don’t know how and don’t care, but I found that girl from the other side wearing pink and saying, “PLEASE Don’t Leave Me.” This is her hand.
(Art from 9/12/17)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

BITS

7/27/2017     11:55am

God has been all around me lately and on Tuesday He spoke this prayer. I was trying to think of a name for a Facebook group of my friends and words wafted through as I walked to the car. Then BITS came in. I wondered if it stood for something. I got “Blessed in the Struggle.” I like that. As I drove down the rather steep hill from my therapist’s office this prayer came to me, in lines and different colors. I finally pulled over to let it come through. I AM BITS.

BITS

I am BITS.
I AM Blessed in the Struggle.
I welcome His purifying pain.
I release my need to understand.
I submit my life to the Lord.
Every piece I’m angry about, 
every care I hold, like each stone in the lake, I let go of.
My pain was never mine to begin with.
Jesus is mine.
Please Lord, show me your way.
Teach me how to read.
Teach me how to be, free.
BITS.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017