For most of my life I’d lived in a land of black and white. Things were either good or bad, right or wrong. I was either a failure or a success. There was nothing in-between.
The extremes of this pendulum were felt in every area of my life and contributed to the development of my eating disorder. When I recovered, and had conflict in my marriage, I sought freedom, complete and absolute.
During the time that followed this search for freedom, this search for myself, I began to paint. It was a frustrating endeavor because I saw amazing things in my head, which didn’t remotely translate to the paper. My art is not with a brush.
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As I began to draw and paint random scenes, a girl began showing up. She faced away from the audience. Her body hunched up, sitting on a rock near the ocean or on a limb of a tree branch. Her hair covered most of her body. It was the most prominent feature, her one defining trait.
Her hair was all the colors of the rainbow – long, dripping down her back, protecting her from the world.
I remember in therapy I struggled with the land of black and white. I struggled because I believed in light and dark in the spiritual world. Yet I didn’t know how to reconcile this with the physical world, which was not clearly black or white.
I knew that I could no longer live in a land of black and white. I was afraid it would kill me.
Suddenly she showed up. The girl with rainbow colored hair.
I don’t like the idea of a gray matter being the space between black and white.
It made more sense to me that there would be a rainbow.
If black is the absence of color and white contains all colors, then there must be a middle ground, where it was safe, where I could live free, where I could stop swinging back and forth.
I wanted to live in middle ground, where there were rainbows.
The new terms I created for my life were this: The spiritual world and the physical world were different, and could have different rules. In the spiritual world, I could still believe in black and white, in good and evil. In the physical world, there was black and white and everything in between. There were all colors of the spectrum, all frequencies. Rainbows.
I decided that’s where I would live. And it saved me.
I was born with white blond hair, which I dyed jet-black during an anger stage of my life. Black – White.
Recently, I had a dream that I got a pixie cut, a yearning for change. Since I can’t drastically change my look for acting, I decided to do a dye job to the ends of my hair. I can cut it off if need be. No harm. No foul.
As the hairstylist blew my hair dry and the first glimpse reflected in the mirror, a part of me welled up inside. The picture of my first drawing smashed into view – the girl with the rainbow colored hair.
A smile crested my heart. I’d been drawing myself, where I lived safely between the black and white, in the land of rainbows.
Self-Reflection: What things in your life do you see in black and white? Is this serving you or harming you? How might you take a step to live in the middle ground, where there are rainbows?