This is basically a Polaroid of me, and the arrangement of semi-opaque color surrounding me is a representation of my aura at that time (allegedly). While I’m not crazy about my appearance in this photo, I do like the photo itself, which is sort of like a photo mood ring, and the experience was so interesting.
A couple of years ago a new book about aura photography arrived at the library, and I looked inside at the portraits of all these different people within Rothko-esque clouds and bands of color. I think the photos look interesting; they’re like a subset of portraiture. Apparently the concept of ‘auras’ is mainly traced back to a former C of E priest and theosophist named Charles Webster Leadbeater who had some pretty curious ideas and STRANGE beliefs. He sort of reinterpreted and refashioned what he had learned about Tantrism in India, then in the 70’s his ideas about auras were picked up by the New Age movement. This aura photography system is a computer connected to a device that the participant touches so that the sensors can gather “biofeedback” (information like body temperature and such), plus a photo printer. The computer converts the information into color fields and adds these to the photo. In my experience that day, the woman who photographed me then spent some time interpreting the colors and their placement in the photo. She also drew three oracle cards for me and we discussed those; she was very nice, bright and easy to talk to. It was all very interesting and fun- then I spent way too long looking at almost everything in the shop where the photography event was held (which was also fun).
I was somewhat surprised at how symmetrical mine turned out, and how orange-y most of the color is. I do love orange so much- although I love any color if it’s really saturated. (But orange is a favorite after the green/blues.) The arrangement of color in the photo reminds me of a medieval icon, with a Romanesque arch over my head containing four purple orbs in a row, and columns standing at my arms. There’s also a cloud of pink over the center of my chest, and if you look closely, some hazy vertical action at the very top, in the center.
I hope you are holding up ok.
Here are some of my guesses:
You’ve been getting some form of treatment/therapy, and you are dealing with a lot of grief, probably not just from your wife’s untimely death, but also from an array of older traumatic experiences. And now you know that plenty of damage is done before we’re even old enough to know who we are. Maybe you’re getting some new explanations that are making sense, and learning more about your brain, your body, your mind, and your heart. This is all such hard work to do; I have found it to be difficult and lonely work at times, but I can’t argue with the rewards I’ve seen so far. It is not easy in the slightest, though; in fact, it can be wrenching. And I love you and I care about you, so I worry about how you are holding up in this new and different rubric. I keep finding myself thinking of you while you’re going through this, and wishing I was there to help you in some way. In fact, I’ll tell you a little of my recent experience in case it helps you feel less alone or helps you understand me. I hope you don’t mind, I just want to help because I love you and I care about what happens to you. Thinking of you suffering and being in pain doesn’t feel good at all- I’m not angry at you anymore, and I don’t hold anything against you anymore. It means so much to me that you are taking care of yourself by doing this- thank you.
I wish to God more people could be like you, darling, and be open to different possibilities, reasons, and explanations for damaging patterns…and be courageous enough to try something to constructively improve their situation in any way. It causes a ripple effect, and leads to better functionality all around. I feel strange that I have broken the cycle of intergenerational trauma that negatively affected so many of my relatives on both sides of my family, including me. I broke it by getting help, learning about it, taking action, and being patient, but God it’s so fucking hard to do.
Looking at intense events that happened to us so long ago through a new lens, from a different perspective….it can pack one hell of a wallop, man. The reaction/s you feel at first may morph over the next few days, and may subtly (or obviously) inform mood shifts later, when your conscious mind has moved forward but your emotions and your body are still chewing. If something comes up that’s hard to deal with and my reaction is more extreme than I expected, or emotions spike and get hard to control, it can be difficult to realize what’s really causing the emotional flare-up. It’s sneaky. That’s happened to me a lot. I’ll think I’ve dealt with something and it’s finished…but days later it turns out no, I’m not finished feeling things. The dysfunction finds ways to tunnel into other departments and fuck shit up, and I have to remember it does that.
Sometimes it takes days to get to those delayed reactions, sometimes years. One difficult thing I want to talk to my therapist about next time is the way I will sometimes be reminded of an old traumatic event that I thought I already had a handle on for years and years, but this time I’m remembering the event from a different perspective, with educated hindsight. For me, this has been resulting in realizing stuff like “oh my God, that was way worse than I thought it was, no wonder I was having such a hard time” and then I might get hit with an emotional flashback, re-experiencing that past moment emotionally, feeling the isolation or whatever I felt at that time, but in the present. The body, in that moment, doesn’t know it’s in the present, it’s right back when I was 6 or 7. So I have to investigate these reactions and ground myself and work my way out of the emotional flashback. I have to practice careful self-awareness. There’s things I’m remembering that I thought I’d already come to terms with years ago. But now I know what I couldn’t know then- the ‘it wasn’t great but it could have been a lot worse’ angle that I used to have about my childhood is woefully inaccurate and invalidating to my child self and her secretly rotten, painful situation with nowhere to turn. While it certainly could have been worse, remembering the truth and feeling the truth hurts: that I was mistreated and emotionally neglected, that no grownups around me could bring themselves to look closely at me and see what a hard time I was having when I was growing up. Even though at first glance we were an ‘ideal family’. In my art project, I’m using old photos of myself at a wedding reception I remember. I’m about 7, I think, I can’t remember. People like me have significant chunks of memory missing from their childhoods. I have no memory of the fancy dress I am wearing in it. But in each photo, I am obviously not ok. I look worried and haunted, like a 30 year old whose child has been declared missing. Obviously. But my family only saw their sweet Amy, just like I spoke of before about that New Yorker article and head-in-the-sand adults. ‘Amy’s Amy, how could she be suffering from mental illness?’ Even after all the professional help, though, once in a while I fall into the trap of thinking ‘maybe it wasn’t really that bad, maybe I’m just a crybaby, etc.’ But that doesn’t last long. My parents were both problematic in different ways, I was a bullied misfit in school, and I had zero functional relationship role models. No parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles had a good marriage, I only saw problematic ones. I didn’t know what a healthy relationship looked like. Which had a negative effect.
While I don’t remember my dress, though, I do remember being there, and feeling so unpleasantly strange and having no idea what I was feeling, or why. I had no name for the feeling at all. I remember finally going up to my mother and telling her that my stomach hurt, even though it did not- it was just the closest thing I could name that felt like what I was feeling. I knew something was wrong. But I wouldn’t know what for 40 years.
Maybe telling you this has helped- I hope so. I want to help.
Right now if I could hold you in my arms, smooth your hair, and comfort you, I wouldn’t wish for anything else.