"F*ck positive vibes only" - that's the motto of
An optimistic basic attitude is important. We should think positive, not let ourselves get down. But if we suppress all other feelings, how good is that really for us?
Now and then, we should honestly ask ourselves the question, "How are you really doing?"
As an artist, I was always dealing with the deeper layers. Recently I heard the saying, "No matter how much he puts up with in life, an artist must be sincere in his art." That is true! In art, we fathom, we do not cover up. Truthfulness can be work ... emotional work ... memory work ... artistic work.
A GLANCE BACK
I did not have a "bad childhood". We were clean, fed, clothed, etc. From time to time we were beaten. But in the 70s, corporal punishment was still common in many families in Western Germany. Not even that my mother preferred to use clothes hangers was something special. Just the other day, I read that many parents used carpet beaters or something similar to chastise their children.
So my childhood was no different from many others. The humiliation and being exposed was worse than the pain. But what really shaped my life was the lack of love.
My mother was generally not a loving woman. But it was not that she had no love in her at all. She just didn't have any for me. That's not an exaggeration. I was a sandwich child - one older sister, one younger. I slipped through like that. Towards my two sisters, who were very close to her in character, my mother was quite affectionate.
Cuddling with mom? No chance, I can not remember even one (!) even fleeting hug. Since that was only the case with me, I was convinced that it must be me.
One memory from my childhood is particularly distinct. I was maybe 5 or 6 years old, and we were visiting relatives in southern Germany in the winter. The snow was very high and it was beautiful. When we had played outside in the snow, we first had to go to the basement to take off our snow boots and snowsuits. Mine was fiery red, I remember it well. My mother was down in the basement with my sisters helping them undress when I came down the stairs. She turned to me for a moment and then said to them, "Look at your sister. You can take a page from that. She's holding on to the railing."
Not a big deal, right? Not exactly excessive praise. But for me, it was a completely new experience and so impressive that I have never forgotten it. I was electrified and spent the rest of the holiday going up and down the basement stairs, always holding onto the handrail - hoping my mother would praise me again. Maybe she did love me after all?
Needless to say, it didn't happen. But this memory is emblematic of a very large part of my life. I never rebelled. Even in my teenage years, I was always inconspicuous and conformed: I hoped for it, I would earn my mother's love after all. It was only when I became a mother myself that I managed to free myself from this emotional predicament.
The unconscious yet ever-present knowledge that "My mother couldn't love me, how could anyone love me?" influenced my self-worth, every life decision, and every relationship. When my mother started making the same distinctions between my sons and my sisters' children, treating them as unlovingly as she treated me, I was finally strong enough.
My family blames me for breaking off contact with her. But when contact breaks off, when a person stops contacting them, did they break off contact or did they keep it up until then? I would have been so happy if my family had been interested enough to get back to me. But at some point, I just accepted what couldn't be helped.
After I stopped wishing for my mother's love, I was finally able to perceive that there were people who liked me, even loved me. My significant other and my sons taught me that.
Today, I am mostly fine. But that lack of love in my childhood will always be a part of me. Like cracks under the surface, and sometimes they break through.
We all have "breaks" in our lives. People who hurt us, experiences that changed us ... losses, strokes of fate, small everyday tortures.
I am currently working on a new art series that deals with this very subject. It is entitled "Cracked".
Experiences like I have had - similar or completely different - have probably been made by most, maybe even all people. We probably carry all these small and large scars with us.
They are not a shame. Experiences do not remain in the past. They have an impact on how we conduct relationships, on our feelings, on our basic trust, on how we behave. Whether negative or positive, they have an impact on who we are. But even more, who we are has an impact on how we classify and process experiences.
We are allowed to take it seriously how we feel, we don't have to relativize anything, we are allowed to talk about it - or keep silent.
The traces left behind - whether fine cracks or deep craters - are not damage. We get up, sometimes from rubble, reshaping ourselves. To stumble is not weakness, injuries are not a sign of failure. Scars are signs of life, survival, defiance. They are the lines along which we put ourselves back together. There is beauty even in the broken!
"Cracked" is my most personal art series so far. In it, I process my childhood.
Our cracks are seams, space for development.