Over the past weekend I was excited and joyous in being able to spend time with my extended family. Growing up with a diverse and multicultural background I had an unconventional childhood. At the age of 3 my parents divorced and I grew up separate from my father and brother. Over time both of my parents remarried and had other children, my half-bother and sisters, needless to say I have a very blended family. Every year since my parent’s estrangement, until I was a teenager, I would visit my dad and his family once a year in the Alaska bush. When my immediate family and I moved to Washington D.C. at the age of 10, our visits became less frequent and then obsolete by my teenage years.
As I have self-discovered, a lot of my soul wounding has occurred due to these circumstances, which has left me feeling abandoned, neglected, and unworthy. I have struggled since childhood to emotionally connect with my father, brother, and the Twitchell lineage. On the rare occasion we are all able to spend time together I am plagued with sorrow and grief, and good-byes are always the hardest. Yet, I am more grateful and filled with joy when I have any opportunity to spend quality time learning and sharing parts of ourselves with one another.
For my nephew’s high school graduation this past weekend we were all able to come together to celebrate and I took this occasion to share the art genogram I made for my Art Therapy: Family Therapy course requirement. I really surprised myself when I called everyone’s attention, about 30 people including my in-laws, to share this unique portrait of my immediate family’s lineage. I was filled with joy, pride, honor, humility, and power. I was amazed at the level of attention that everyone gave and I could feel the depth of my ancestors behind me as we all held the space together. We were all so moved by the moment that I wasn’t sure how to close what I had opened. Thanks to my mom’s suggestion, my brother, who is also the bishop of his Latter-Day Saint (Mormon) ward, gave a closing prayer.
Afterwards I felt like there was a shift in our common space and it felt more reverent, peaceful, and harmonious. To me this is what I envisioned feeling, seeing, and being when I have the authentic ability to convey what I experience as healing for indigenous community members (Nizhoni). I enjoyed sharing the symbols, colors, and materials I used. Explaining how and why I constructed my art genogram. Everyone was curious and I encouraged any and all questions.
My dad said it took a lot of courage for me to be genuine and heartfelt in front of everyone, especially during the last 3 minutes of the NBA finals game. I have learned that I am very empathic and that sharing my emotions and feelings with others demonstrates leadership qualities. I was thankful to share a part of my family’s genealogy with others while also demonstrating what I have been learning here at Southwestern College. The greatest gift was witnessing my work in practice and helping to heal not only myself, but also my family as a whole. To witness the power and magic of art is amazing and it re-affirms what I’m experiencing in the here and now, especially as I continue to transform my consciousness through education.