How do you draw pain? One of the things that I found to actually help me deal with negative emotions is to express them in productive ways rather than just bottling everything up inside. Sometimes I write poems, sometimes I write songs, but today I felt like drawing. I had this really strong desire to draw for some reason even though its something that I don’t usually do, so I sat down at my desk with a blank sheet of paper, pencil in hand. But then I ran into a problem: how do I draw pain?
It has always been natural for me to express my emotions through writing, but visual art has never really been my thing. So when I decided to draw today I was really puzzled. I feel so much anxiety right now that I need to put into something productive, but I just didn’t know how to do it with art.
Eventually, I decided to use the same approach that I tend to use with poetry; I used metaphors to express my feelings. I ended up drawing a tree to symbolize everything that I’m feeling. While most of the time trees are used to symbolize life and growing up and becoming your own person, this tree symbolizes something else for me. The trunk of the tree is the initial source of pain, the one thing that just won’t stop haunting me. The branches symbolize everything else. They stem from the trunk (just as all the emotions I’m feeling now stem from the initial event) and then they move outward and branch off into even smaller branches and twigs and leaves.
For me, the leaves are the parts of myself that everyone can see. Just as the leaves change colour in the fall, my outward self tends to change as time goes on in order to hide the real me. Just as the leaves fall from the tree in the coldest and darkest months of the year, my ideal projection of myself falters when I am at my darkest points.
Even though this is starting to sound really depressing, there is good in the metaphorical tree as well. The most important thing to remember about a tree is that it is resilient. Even after losing its leaves time and time again, the tree continues to renew itself and replace what it has lost with newer, healthier leaves. This is promising for me because it reminds me that even though I am in a sad place right now, there is a brighter future ahead if I can only make it through the metaphorical winter. Even in the hardest of times the tree remains rooted to the ground standing tall.
So even though the process of drawing started out pretty difficult, it actually turned out to be a really self-reflexive exercise. I feel as though I have learned a lot about myself. I’m stronger than I thought I was. I’m standing tall even after weathering the storms of my life. Even though I’m not recovered yet, I know that somehow everything is going to be okay.