Survivor Art Warning

Keep in mind that survivor art is not about beauty. It reveals trauma...sometimes in a subtle way. Sometimes rather graphically. The beauty, to me, is in being a witness to my own healing from the images given to me by formerly traumatized and even suicidal alters.

Please use caution in viewing this site. I'm proud to be sufficiently healed to share this art (most of which was done from 1997 to 2000). All depicted in the images have integrated. This is me when I was "we".


Memory validation through images

Today's post is a bit different. The topic is art but contradicts my objective not to write typical posts. This will be anything but typical but will have more text. First of all, I am including two photos. Each is of a type of snake. Even though snakes are icky to nearly every survivor, the point I'm making is how alters can have remarkable accuracy. If hearing the word snake is too upsetting, stop reading!

Within the first three years of healing, a memory surfaced that I had been placed in a sensory deprivation setting (i.e. a box) and covered with coral snakes which are deadly. I learned a lot from researching the contents of memories. The main question was how I survived having coral snakes on me even if I had some kind of paralysis drug that I didn't move. I looked up coral snake to see they look like this:
I recalled several pictures of snakes I had gathered that were all orange. I found all the images and the snakes looked the same to me which left me perplexed. One day on television I saw a commercial where a "milk snake" crawled up inside the pant leg of a man. I went a little nuts because it was an orange snake with black and white stripes. When I looked up milk snake, I found this image:

Milk snakes are harmless. Their defense is their resemblance to a coral snake. While it's difficult to tell from the photo, the coral snake has more of a yellow stripe than a white stripe. And the coral snakes have more red between the black stripes. I wouldn't want to have to consciously figure out which was which but there are some variations of a rhyme that help to tell them apart. One is:

Red and black, friend of Jack
Red and yellow, kill a fellow.

Understanding the difference, I retrieved my orange snake pictures. They were all milk snakes. Over a period of several years, anytime a picture of a milk snake appeared in a magazine, I took it for my stash until the meaning became known to me. In their trauma, the alters remembered the markings specifically. No coral snake image was included because it was not part of their trauma. While I was relieved to know I had been tricked, I can't imagine the fear I would have had as a child in that situation.

I may have stated in another blog that there was a pattern to some memories. I would be witness to some victim being killed (real or virtual or tricked) by a certain species of snake or spider or poisonous creature. I would then be confined to a small isolated area with what looked to be the same creature I just witnessed "kill" someone. Of course that served to greatly enhance the level of terror believing my death was imminent--apart from the fear of having such creatures crawl on me.

It took time to unravel that mystery, but the commercial combined with my photos demystified why I survived the close encounter with at least several deadly snakes. If I recall correctly, it was a camera commercial and the man immediately looked the snake up on the internet and had the same relief I did after seeing the commercial!

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