I recently wrote about how the brain responds to trauma and abuse. Survival instincts emerge and one of the repercussions is the communication between the brain hemispheres lessens.
We move from holistic integration to fragment-ous snapshots of people and events, as the brain’s focus restricts and constricts, eliminating in order to focus on the task at hand- surviving.
This is why abuse and trauma survivors can recount events with an almost rote tone, as they make a list of violations they have suffered. In such instances, the left-brain, the one that reads like an instruction manual, dominates. A to B to C, and the sequence continues.
What is severed is the connection with the right brain. The one that gives the story context, emotion, and nuance. This is why in awakening from abuse and trauma, people may be super-sensitive to smells, touch, position of items and so on.
These are often referred to as “triggers”. These are the cues and clues the right-brain is tracking to give context to its version of the story of what happened.
It is not healthy to have the brain split in this manner. One-half handling some details disconnecting from the other half handling other details. So, how do we fix this?
Art…art…and more art… I do not mean necessarily drawing or painting. I mean “art” in its truest sense- anything beyond the constrained linear. Storytelling is an art, as is journaling, as is painting, as is drawing, as is collaging, as is composing, as is poetry writing and on and on and on.
Why is art so important?
Art creates the bridge between the right and left brain. You can not create art without both halves communicating. If you only use your left brain, your writing will read like a set of directions. If you use only the right brain, your work is filled with nuance and context and moves absolutely no where.
And this is why art heals so beautifully.
Art forces us to tell both sides of our stories – most importantly to ourselves.
Please don’t say to yourself, “Well I am really not artistic.” Seriously, I draw pictures where the primary shape is a heart. It seems to be the limit of my abilities, but that does not stop me from expressing.
There are many ways for you to use art to heal: write, write, and write some more. You are storytelling to yourself and others as you do.
If drawing really freaks you out, get out old magazines or find images on-line, print them out and make a collage. Cut out words and phrases that mean something to you. Let your right and left brains talk and see what is woven between them.
Or try an art therapy book- Drawing from the Heart by Barbara Ganin is an excellent choice.
You were meant to thrive in this world and you can only do that when you are intact- let art be your bridge to wholeness.