how it all began…
When bad things happen, they can be hard to explain and understand and move beyond. We get stuck and though life moves on and we can think we are fine, we seldom are until we’ve grappled with the questions, made peace with the horrible discomfort, and integrated our part experience into our present and future.
Integration involves risk-taking
The Body Sovereignty Project came about when Emily decided it was time to tell her story more publicly in order to honor that process of integration. She had been painting and writing for years before her assault but it was about 5 years after the assault, when she was struggling the most, that she turned to art as a way to process her healing and hurting.
She says, “The world eagerly tells you what it wants. It’s not hard to tell. I quickly learned that people like bright colors and so I’d paint with yellows and pinks and blues and receive praise for the joy my art was bringing to people in my community. My painting is about my assault and my memory and my healing—it’s not about pretty things—so after a few years of sharing my art publicly in shows and selling, I felt fractured. It felt painful to hear people say the work was beautiful when I knew there were thousands of tears mixed into the paint and I quickly realized that I wanted the truth to be known. I wanted to continue painting with bright colors but also communicate about what was going on within as I painted. I wanted to put those two pieces together. Not because I needed anything from anyone, because it felt inauthentic.”
healing brings you back to wholeness
As a therapist and survivor, Emily knows precisely how the work in the therapy room must spill out into a person’s life in order for healing to occur. There comes a day when you realize that no one is going to save you, that you didn’t create these problems for yourself but you are the one who has to pick up the pieces and create something new and beautiful.