An artist looks out her bedroom window. It’s a clear, brisk, morning in the city. She walks to a canvas perched on an easel, takes up her paints, and proceeds to paint a portrait of a woman sitting on the side of her bed. On her face she draws fear, shame and guilt, as the artist imagines her looking back on her life, wondering how she got to this point. The artist feels the pain and draws a tear on the woman, as she swallows the lump in her own throat.
How did this woman live for so long on hope, getting by day to day, getting married and creating a family? Now, she questions if hope for her life was just a delusional thought. What gave her the right, the arrogance, ego, presumption, to bring children into the equation? Maybe it stemmed from Algebra, where letters equal numbers, or maybe from cryptic codes we’re encouraged to solve? She tried to rationalize and justify how she could believe in the logically impossible.
Ahh, but isn’t that what dreams are made of, whether the perfect family or any achievement? Overcoming suffering and odds is the price you pay for making dreams into reality, but was it right to make innocent children follow a path of her own uncertainty?
The artist looks out the window as clouds roll in. The artist became uncomfortable. She wanted to destroy this image that touched her so and begin again, but decided to follow through. Just as you can’t erase all that has happened in life and begin again, she considered the family she imagined was affected by this woman. She picked up her brush, gathered her inner strength and continued.
Rain began to fall against the window pane. The artist drew the woman alone and crying, then drew people arriving and the woman smiling. No one else should see her pain, her shame, lest they surely would point fingers at her, reprimanding her for being so selfish and self-centered. How dare she?
Yet, they don’t know how she punishes herself more than anyone else ever could. When she’s offered love, she doesn’t feel worthy. “How can you love me?” she wonders. “Don’t you see the consequences of the decisions I’ve made?” So often she overlooks the love she gives or her generosity of spirit, because she feels it would never be enough to make amends for the damage she feels she caused. She would love to see her children follow their dreams, but how does she encourage them, when she fears that path led her here? What if this conflict would be their fate? On the other hand if they were financially stable…The woman considers how to remain on the pedestal her children built for her (made of unconditional love), while showing her vulnerability.
Thunder claps and lightning bolts electrify the sky as the artist now draws the woman in armor, holding a sword and shield. This has become her daily wardrobe as she battles…not dragons or monsters…but bill collectors! She deflects numerous daily phone calls, numerous pieces of mail, she’s afraid to answer the door. She’s almost paranoid. She feels trapped sometimes, like there’s no way out, existing day to day in fear, guilt and shame that her children must experience this.
Was it delusional to pray and hope for change? There were reprieves, truces and treaties with bill companies, but although she wins battles, the war wages on. She continues to attempt to right the wrong, to get the children to safety and security, away from the front lines, off the battlefield. The woman herself has been on the front line since her teenage years. She began to wonder “Did my mother experience the same emotional struggle when I was growing up?”
The storm that raged outside the artist’s window dissipated. The sun began to break through the clouds. The artist sat down on the side of her bed, emerging from the recesses of her mind, she swallowed hard and dried her own tears. She took a deep breath and a long look at the self-portrait, as she contemplated a solution. She makes a new brushstroke and prays. A buyer knocks on her front door. The sun beams through the windows. A blank canvas is placed on the easel.