The Stories Behind the Story – Concealing Emotional Pain – ROCK

ROCK (SEH-lah) \ pastel-graphite-colored pencil, 22" x 30" | $ 3,000

A heartfelt update awaits! Today marks the release of the 8th chapter in the engaging "The Stories Behind the Story" series. Come along as we explore the challenging inner world of “Unconditional Support: Concealing Emotional Pain.” 

Prepare for an intensely personal narrative. This chapter is a heartfelt tribute to my father, a story of love and the pain of his loss.  And friendship becoming my "Rock".

While this topic can be challenging, it also promises resolution. We all grapple with emotional pain in our unique ways. We feel awkward when confronted with it and can be insensitive when we need to be empathic. This story might unsettle you, but it can also offer a sense of closure.

“When everyone, including yourself, is under tremendous emotional stress, can you navigate empathizing with others’ feelings?”

Continue to discover the inspirations behind my artwork as we delve into personal narratives of concealing and revealing. This promises to be an enlightening and engaging journey, with four more tales still to come.

If you've missed any part of the series, no worries! You can catch up on all the stories in the NEWS section on my website.

I'm eager to hear your thoughts on the latest tale. Your insights are invaluable, and I'd love for you to share your reflections. Let's continue this creative journey together!

UNCONDITIONAL SUPPORT: Concealing Emotional Pain

When everyone, including yourself, is under tremendous emotional stress, can you navigate empathizing with others’ feelings?”

As an artist…Unconditional support can be hard to find. Is there someone in your life who has given you that support? Fortunately for me, the person who provided that support was my father. He was a geologist and gifted me with a rock and mineral sample kit he had kept since college. This treasured kit has been a constant in my life, accompanying me through all my moves and reminding me of my father's steadfastness and grounding presence.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Malik

Solid as a rock

Whenever I take out the samples of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks and minerals like quartz, calcite, mica, and feldspar, I recall memories of my father and his passion for geology. He instilled in me a love for the inner workings of our planet, and I have always been fascinated by the beauty within every rock.

From the exterior cladding of buildings to kitchen countertops, rocks are everywhere. And when you crack one open, the hidden gems within are breathtaking. Isn’t that the case when you get to know someone special? Just like my father had, I take joy in discovering the geological secrets that each rock holds. So, as I created this drawing, I couldn't help but feel a sense of connection to my father and his love for geology. I always thought he’d be here as solid as a rock.

Photo courtesy of Tatiana Syrikova

We never discussed how we felt

Have you experienced concealing the pain of a loss? Have you continued to disguise it? I have. You will understand why I ask these questions with the story that follows.

I lost my Dad in my late 30's. He had ALS, a brutal disease where a robust and healthy man lost control over his body but kept a sharp mind. He died within a year of diagnosis. Within my immediate family, we never discussed how we felt about his illness or his death.

Photo courtesy of Keira Burton

Concealing emotions

Concealing emotions has been a family affair. I grew up without an overt expression of emotion. My parents were of the generation that did not express feelings openly. My father never discussed what happened to him during WWII. And my mother never expressed her anger regarding her father walking out of her life. So when it was time for a family to come together during a profound loss, everyone isolated into their pain without a spoken word. My experience is an extreme example of hiding emotions, but how often do we shut down feelings because we think no one cares to know?

Photo courtesy of Mart Production

After my father’s death, I felt rudderless. And, I had no one to confide in. I had lost my rock and steadfast support. I have been able to talk about it with close friends. They became my “Rock “ foundation.

However, I have continued to conceal my feelings about this life-changing event from my family. We have yet to speak of his illness or his death. I miss him terribly. There are times when I wish I could tell him how much. After so many years, I want to discuss how I feel about all this. Yet, based on the family history, I am not sure anyone would be receptive.

My mother is now 98 years old. Although she is still mentally “sharp as a tack,” I don’t think bringing up an episode so fraught with tremendous emotional stress would be productive. It is now time to speak with my sister and brother. I am fearful of the outcome. And it is holding me back. If I say nothing, I am assured to relive the emotional shutdown I experienced so many years ago. If I say something, will I still relive the same situation? Only opening the door for discussion with my siblings will answer the question. So, when will I open the door? I haven’t decided. This story will continue.

P.S. Good friends provide support

Women hugging
Photo courtesy Mental Health America

Recently, a dear friend lost the love of her life to heart failure. She came to me for support, and I was there for her. I wish I could have eased her emotional pain. I know that pain. It’s a journey only she can take to find a peaceful destination. I stood beside her, hugged her, and assured her I loved her. I observed the family, which was sharing her loss. Everyone had retreated into their sorrow. I wondered if what I had experienced and what I was now observing was typical behavior of such a deep emotional loss within a family. All I know is that for me, and I hope for her, good friends who provided unconditional support helped me get through the roughest emotional patch of the journey.

P.S.S. An archeological dig into how I still feel

 I didn't originally intend for this drawing to become such an emotional flash point. I was thinking about the word rock and the colors that express the simple meaning and beauty. However, it brought up the past and became an archeological dig into how I still feel the loss of my father. I am still digging.

Digging
Photo courtesy Fotios Photos

THE NEXT STORY

DAYDREAM: Journey into the Imagination - TREE

“On a particularly sweltering day, my mind conjures up images of desert oases that I've come across on the pages of National Geographic.”

I am amazed at how free children are to express their imaginary experiences.”

So why not daydream and imagine something you would like to do, people you would like to meet, a town you would like to visit…”

TREE (EHTS) | pastel-graphite, 22" x30" | $ 3,000

REVEALED FAITH STATEMENT: The big story behind all the drawings

Who are we? How much do we conceal? My inquiry begins with the history of the Crypto-Jews who outwardly converted during the Inquisition but continued to practice their religion, disguising it ingeniously from the authorities. Yet, even in secrecy, traces were revealed to those who knew where to look. This is just one example of how people have historically hidden their true selves. Even today, individuals often mask their identity out of fear of rejection.

Through my artwork, I explore and reconcile the uneasy feelings associated with revealing my chosen faith, Judaism. How much should I make known? When you examine my drawings, you will notice concealed Hebrew words peaking out from their abstract surroundings. I hope my artwork will encourage others to feel comfortable expressing their true selves.

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