Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

When Words Fail

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to join with a small group of friends and work through this workbook.  Journaling and Art!!  How much more awesome can it get?  I have always gotten a lot of insight through art therapy, sometimes more-so there than in the “regular” groups while in the hospital.  Give me oil pastels and a sheet of paper and let me go and there’s no telling what’ll come out, but it will always be revealing.

This concept as a whole highlights something else going on in my life at the moment.  I’ve been . . . struggling . . . with therapy.  Not feeling heard or understood.  My therapist and I spent the last session, in part, discussing this, why this is happening, what can be done to change it.

At one point, he asked me a question with the expectation of a certain answer.  And I answered that question.  And I thought I gave him that certain answer.  But that’s not what he heard.  He told me what he wanted to hear and I said it.  And it was an “ah-ha” moment for him, the realization that I was saying something, thinking I was communicating certain things, and he didn’t hear a single one of those things.  (I am being vague as to what the question and what my answer was on purpose because it’s a general issue for our therapeutic relationship at this point, my words not conveying what I think they are.)

I left that session feeling rather defeated and somewhat hopeless.  Words are what I do. And now I am beginning to see that my words aren’t working.  The whole point of words is to communicate, to get one idea out of one person’s head and into another’s.  And I’m not succeeding in doing this right now.

The defeated and hopeless feelings come from the fact that I left that session thinking, “words are all I have left and now they aren’t working.”  Words play a significant role in my identity.  And sometimes I feel that, without words, there would be nothing left.  I feel that a lot has been taken away from me in the past year, and I was already questioning the strength of my words, the effectiveness of my words because of a certain event at school that happened roughly a year ago.  And now my words are once again not enough and the words that are there are just not good enough.

I don’t know how to remedy this situation, if we want to call it a situation.  This is one more thing I don’t know how to fix.  Yes, it leaves me feeling broken.  Yes, it leaves me feeling ineffective.  Yes, it leaves me feeling insufficient.  I keep thinking not enough not enough not enough. How familiar those words are.  I thought they were firmly planted in my past, but they are more than echoes of old memories right now.  They are current.

I fix things with words.  How do I fix the words themselves?


May 20, 2010 - Posted by | Communication, identity, therapy | , , , , , , ,


  1. I know that feeling all too well after leaving therapy without being able to find the words for my thoughts and feelings. For some reason I have never been able to connect to, and express myself through artwork. For me it’s music. I can literally say that I feel like Rachmaninoff’s 2nd movement of his 2nd piano concerto (although I’m still not at the stage yet of creating my own music). I love this quote from The Shawshank Redemption:

    “I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are better left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was as if some beautiful bird had flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.”

    Comment by Anon | May 20, 2010 | Reply

  2. Hey Alexis,

    Did you get this workbook??? I just saw it advertised in Gurze the other day and was wondering if it was any good. I’ve always loved art therapy!!!

    Comment by Beth H. | June 4, 2010 | Reply

    • yes, i did get the workbook. i’m in a (private) fb group where a few of us are doing the exercises together. and it’s an awesome book.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | June 4, 2010 | Reply

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