The Mirror

There comes a moment in every good piece of artwork that it does not much resemble beauty. The lines may be harsh. The blocks of color too bold. One might go so far as to say it is ugly. I often find myself hating a piece as I struggle thru the initial laying down of color and line. It just doesn’t feel right. It is sometimes impossible not to resist the urge to scrap the piece and walk away. But sometimes you stick with it. Those lines soften, and in an instant the colors come together. It is a breathless moment. Your heart skips and you realize it is there. Each touch of the canvas brings it closer. There are the hints of “it”. The indescribable rightness of that image taking shape. It was the patience and the trust of the process that allowed access to that place. The deep residence within our minds that has the ability to unlock the beauty. It is hard to trust, as it is unseen and unheard. It often gets overlooked. It isn’t quick, nor is it easy. That singular moment of epiphany swimming up there amongst synapses and gray matter. But it is there. Therapy is no different. My experience of therapy with Virgil has bits and pieces of all of it. Moments of ugly, when willful stubbornness grinds the process to an impasse. The moments of quiet reflection, when nothing but the sigh of breath puts the period on a sentence. Years upon years have laid down the lines and the colors. A slow and steady process, complete with stops and starts. At times a canvas left to sit in the studio, either in frustration or because of life’s distractions. But never thrown away. Never given up upon. Even in the darkest of hours the canvas remained. As my life has shifted course, and I suddenly find myself miles from where I once stood, I realized it doesn’t matter. Nothing will ever take away this piece of artwork. We may be far from where we started. I may be very different now, but it is okay. We created this piece. A piece of connectedness. Come fear, or pain, or disaster, that connection remains. It was a pause between sentences today when I glimpsed our work. Not in the midst of some incredible insight on her part. It was in a second of vulnerability. I found myself understanding it would be okay. We had created a bond so complete, and strong, it could weather this coming storm. Those years of conflict, and doubt next to the ones punctuated by milestones and growth, all coming together to weave this durable resilient fabric which is our relationship now. I don’t know that I have ever experienced anything like it. When asked what my gut was telling me, I listened to myself respond. In awe of where I was. Who was this person? and where did she come from? I know where she came from. She came from the patient and steady work at Virgil’s canvas. Never thrown aside, in frustration. Even in the ugliest moments when anger and hate colored the picture so brightly. No, this canvas of my psyche remained on her easel. Year in and year out. In time it took shape, and today I am here. Stronger than I have ever been. I know few therapeutic relationships last like this. In a life filled with horror and trauma there was a silver lining. This was mine. Regardless of where I end up, I know there will always be a constant. It gives me hope and it gives me strength. I know I must find it for myself, and must figure out a way to foster it within me, but for now I can walk onward knowing I will never be alone in my fight to stay present. I am proud to have worked this hard for this long, and to have created a strong stable, beautiful bond. For a kid, so many dismissed as far too flawed to ever find such fulfillment and growth, I am so very blessed. For from the broken and skewed framework of my adolescent personality I overcame a dismal future. Together we reinforced that weakened foundation and broke the downward brakeless decline to climb into a new life. There is no doubt in my mind, without her this would never have been a possibility. I know there will be more trials and tests. Life will not just idly sit by and let my world be a paradise. I know that. It will be fraught with twists and turns. There will be love and loss. Great happiness and the blackest depths of despair. That is what life is. In my moment of epiphany today I saw a brief glimpse of the person I will become. For that I thank you Virgil. You are truly a gift. Not just for the countless hours, and sessions, or the patience, but for presenting that mirror so I could finally truly catch a glimpse of my potential. Within that glazed pane I see my strength, and I feel the ever so faint beat of my heart grow stronger into the staccato tap of my battle drum. I will survive.

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