I call these pictures Me and My Shadow.
One is a photo and the other is a self-portrait.
We might call them inner self and outer self.
Each has its own truth.
In each duo the photo was taken around the same time the self-portrait was painted. They don’t even look like the same person. But they are.
⇐ The first one took place in 1978-79.
⇓ The second duo is from 1982-83. As you can see, outwardly I didn’t change much—both photos show a confident looking woman, smiling and happy, pleased to smile at the camera. And inwardly—(me looking in the mirror, trying to give an accurate portrayal of the face staring back at me) I didn’t change much either!
In the first one with beret and glasses I look shy and afraid. In the second one I look terrified. Startled, fearful, even angry, and totally intense. And all I was seeing was my own self. In the mirror.
At the time, when I showed these portraits to people, especially the second one, I felt the need to explain that painting is an extremely intense activity, and that’s why I came out looking the way that I did.
But these were early days, and if I had been more adept at my craft I might have been able to alter my expression for the canvas, perhaps coming across as cool and serene as this woman artist perhaps?
And now something else has come to mind.
Because on the one hand, I’ve been writing memoir for many years, getting to know myself in a much deeper way. Unraveling events and thoughts I had about myself and my relationships, delving into areas I was only semi-conscious of at the time, if at all.
That’s on the one hand. And on the other hand, I’ve been learning about the “subtle energy body” through this course in the Quantum Light Programme. So now, when I look at the dichotomy between the photos and the self-portraits, I’m thinking the paintings capture an image of my “emotional body.” The unresolved conflicts, the unacknowledged traumatic memories I’d shelved for convenience sake. And not only memories of this current life-time. For I had an as yet unknown appointment to keep with the memory of traumatic death in a past-life.
What astonishes me is how the terror showed in my face. The feelings were buried, unobtainable, forgotten, yet very much alive in the subtle body… in a not so subtle way…
It’s good to want to be happy, and it’s good to let go of the past.
And it’s even better to let go of the past when you understand what it is you’re releasing. Lest it stare back at you, uncomprehending, as my shadow did to me.