Featured Article of the Month
By: Jenna Rose Simon
Instagram: @AGentleTouchOfArt and @JennaRoseSimonFacebook: A Gentle Touch of Art - Jenna Rose SimonTwitter: @JennaRoseSimon
Over the course of my life, I have regularly been told that I take things differently then others. My mother has always said things such as "My other kids don't react the same way to situations as Jenna does," or "my other kids haven't developed the issues Jenna has." It seems hard for people to understand why we, as individuals, all react to situations differently. Additionally, it can be hard to know where to "draw the line" with the things we voice to others. How will they take it? How will it make them feel? Will it bring up their biggest insecurities? Or will they just shrug it off as though it had no effect on them? These are questions most people do not ask themselves before they lash out at others with their words, and that, in and of itself, can cause the person in question pain or discomfort.
I, myself, have heard a lot of hurtful and negative things in my lifetime that have affected me in various ways. Primarily, I developed a very dangerous eating disorder that lasted over 12 years. I have been in recovery now for two years, but there has not been a single step of it that has been easy. At times, it has barely even been classified as tolerable. As a child and teenager, I was always told that I had a gift for art. I loved to draw, but until recently, I mostly drew portraits of well known public figures, or commissioned drawings for friends and family of their children, typically given as gifts at the holidays. After doing my first self portrait, which showed a very sad version of myself pulling down a mask of a happy, smiling version, my therapist, Allison Lansky, told me that my art could change the world. She explained to me the depth of the ability to help both myself and others heal through my art. "Keep going," she told me at first, advising me to continue trying to express myself and my experiences through my art. As I drew more and more, Allison told me that I should share my art with the world, and promised to help me every step of the way. I was not yet ready to share my work in galleries, so I began an Instagram account solely for my art (@AGentleTouchOfArt).
Shortly after sharing my art online, the drawing you see here was taken from me and posted on someone else's Facebook account, receiving over 300,000 shares. It was at that point that I decided I was on a mission to help people through my work, and that I was willing to share even my darkest drawings in an effort to achieve that goal. This drawing represents the impact of verbal abuse on children. In the drawing, it is the child's mother who is screaming at her, however, verbal abuse can come from anyone. It can be the parents, brothers and sisters, extended relatives, or as we get older, even our friends can be verbally abusive. I came about the concept when I found a digital composition on google images of the child and the hand pulling at her hair with multiple negative words in it. It was for an unknown verbal abuse campaign, and I found the idea to be wonderful. I wanted it to be more clear and obvious to the viewer, so I googled searched to find a profile of an adult screaming to add in to the drawing. I also changed the words in the hand to be things I've heard in my lifetime, from various different people I interacted with as a child and teenager. I feel that the drawing was possibly shared more than the original digital art part due to the fact that adding the parent in made the message very obvious. I also feel that a lot of people can relate to these feelings and the idea that even though you don't leave a physical mark, your words leave scars on the inside. What isn't visible to the eye isn't necessarily unbreakable.
Now 28 years old, I am still far from finished in my quest to learn how to get past the negative things people say to me, but with the help of my therapist, I have come farther then I ever thought possible. I hope this drawing helps validate the feelings of others who haven't felt that anyone understood them. I was once that person... alone and hurting with no ability to even voice my feelings, let alone hope that someone would listen to and understand them. However, I can tell you from personal experience, that feeling does subside, and eventually, it will go away. When your voice becomes the most important one in your head, and you heal from the old wounds, you will be able to take the negative comments from others and see them in a different light. It would be amazing if as a race, human beings could learn from the past and evolve to the point that childhood verbal abuse does not happen at all. Logically, it seems so much easier to treat children properly in the first place, rather then try to mend their broken hearts and correct their thought processes when they are older.
I can't change what may have happened to you, nor can I understand completely because every situation is different... every person is different. What I can offer you is support, compassion, and hope that you can get past whatever form of abuse has held you back. With proper help and a lot of hard work, anything is possible. It shouldn't have to be your responsibility to fix the mistakes of others, but if you work to heal, you can take all your power back. This is a concept that I am still learning and understanding, and I cannot say that I feel confident or strong every single day, because that would be a lie. I do see glimpses of those feelings though, and I know that the end of this difficult chapter in my life is coming, whether I can see it every day or not... it's coming, and I will stop at nothing to get there. For any of you out there who have been abused or hurt, you have my heart and compassion. You have the full right to be pained, feel angry (or any other emotion you might feel), and you have the right to feel deeply affected by your situation. You also have the right to stand up to it, and more importantly, you have the right to be happy.