The Value of Art in Healing


In psychology this week I recounted how it was a joy to watch my teen alter painting, and as I recounted her adventures I realised I was laughing. I know that the things we have shared in the past few weeks as I have let her paint have been momentous times. I’m learning through her to have fun and the freedom to express myself through art, whilst also learning it’s good to work with my alters.

Having spoken through ideomotor signalling with my teen it’s been agreed that I can share with you via the blog the adventures we have shared recently. I wanted to ensure my teen me was happy doing this as the last thing I want is to destabilise the relationship I am building with her.

So here goes…..
My teen has helped me have fun in recent months and yet she is nervous and reserved, however in recent weeks I have been allowing her to take control of my body and participate in her own art activities. Some of the time I have not been aware of what has happened during this time but occasionally I have been able to watch on and observe, even though I have no control of the actions of my body it’s better than losing time.

My teen alter was quite keen on painting and so we began to let her experiment with art, it soon became clear she isn’t into just watercolours or poster paints, she likes using acrylics. So after a rather expensive shopping trip art supplies were bought that we marked just for her, I don’t want little parts of me using paints this costly if they are happy with regular less expensive poster paints.
My teen started to try out various techniques and seems to get really engrossed in her art, but the adventure has been fun to share with her.

She began by painting a canvas with precision and care, which apart from needing a protective cover on the table didn’t make much mess. In fact I felt it was good to see the picture developing though I really had no idea what she had in mind. Then however began a new technique which was much messier and that has led to both tears and laughter and a better understanding and acceptance of her.

She likes to be free flowing and so splattering paint around kind of fitted her mood I guess, on the first occasion yellow paint was suddenly not only on the canvas but on the floor, walls, and chairs in my kitchen. I came to awareness to find paint on so many surfaces and as an adult instantly began to clean up and tidy the mess. My teen vanished and it was only afterwards that I realised I had probably frightened her and not been helpful. The adult me is much more concerned about mess than other parts of me and whilst that is good, it can also hinder the freedom to express ones self through art.

After much communication and my apologising for rushing in and not thinking she and I began to repair the damage I had caused. I know my family were concerned at the mess it had caused and my adult son can’t help put point out the yellow paint still adorning the walls. I’m blind to it now as I now realise life is too short to worry over a bit of yellow paint, I can’t quite believe this response from myself but it’s a sign I’m growing as a person too.


After a few days she returned to her painting though this time she splattered paint outdoors in the garden, red paint did end up on the garden table and lawn but not on any walls. At one point I took back control mid painting as paint went on the table and yet it appears I am not as good at being careful with the paint as she is. I made more mess as I tried to stop mess being created. In the end I dissociated fully and my teen took back control and I lost time!

My PA watched on as my teen rectified my mistakes, my mess and took back ownership of this piece of art. When I came back to awareness the art was on the table drying and I realised I had more apologising to do. It was wrong of me to take back the time I had given her free reign to own and control, it was wrong of me to force my way through in order to try and prevent mess.

Admitting my mistakes, apologising and working at acknowledging her and her rights have allowed me to nurture this part of me, allowed me to forgive myself and overcome fears about making a mess. This fear stems from my past and so it’s been momentous to challenge it and win.

My teen and I had many conversations mainly me saying sorry, accepting her and the fact she is a part of me and carving out a way of working that is suitable for us. No more denial here with her at least, she is a part of me, an alter and I value her and accept her.

This week she completed this art project, I watched on as she carefully took the canvas into the garden and then wearing my best clothes and not painting ones, began splashing paint everywhere. My poor PA had to run for cover a paint flew through the air towards her, narrowly missing her and ending up on the path. The joy I could feel my alter experiencing was palpable, and she was laughing….I was laughing.

By the end she had paint on my body, in my hair, on my clothes, the table, the lawn and the path and yet I really didn’t care. What mattered was this feeling of happiness and carefreeness which I haven’t experienced before. It was a joy to see this part of me letting go and experiencing fun, fun that as a teenager I wasn’t allowed to have. Fun that if I’d had a normal upbringing would have been a part of everyday life. I realised my teen alter and I are catching up on lost time, we are building an inner acceptance that fun is safe as is mess, as is laughing freely.

My teens art is abstract it’s different, but I’m so proud of it, I’m proud that a part of me enjoys art, enjoys being creative. I’m proud that we are working together, sharing this body, sharing time and observing the world through one another. I may not have full control at the times my teen is painting but I’m not losing time as much with her, I’m watching on and seeing and hearing laughter and enjoyment.

My teen is still nervous and reserved, but the feelings she holds of negativity and sadness are just a part of her. She has the ability to have fun and laugh, that’s important for me to know going forwards. I am grateful that internal dialogue in recent months has led to this and I know working with my teen and the other alters I can carve a way forward. Art will play a huge part in this and I’m glad about that it’s already helping me and I’m sure it will continue to do so.


Copyright DID Dispatches 2014





5 thoughts on “The Value of Art in Healing

  1. My husband purchased a toy for one of my inside kids and invited her out to play with it after it arrived. While she was out, she told him she was hungry (i try to eat but struggle with anorexia), so they stopped to eat and that was it. She didnt come back. Someone else took over down there for whatever reason and now today, i feel awful she didnt get to play like she wanted. Your post helps me see im not alone in this struggle with dissociation. I just cant help it.
    Im so sad you no dat? 😦

    • Hi sisters together, I’m sorry to hear that your little one didn’t get to play either, but I’m sure that just knowing she was valued will be helpful for that part of you. It maybe helpful to leave the toy around in case she does come out again and it’s readily available for her.

  2. What a wonderful post to read. I’m fairly new here but really enjoy your blog. You provide such insight into DID. Whilst I’d rather no one had to deal with it, I’m appreciating learning about it. I’m also a survivor of an abusive background which for me has led to enormous disruption to my adult life and both mental and physical health difficulties, although not DID. It really is time that I resurrected my own blog 🙂 . Thanks for sharing yours.

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