To define who I AM, and who I AM NOT has been a core inner struggle for me throughout my life. To some, this may sound over-dramatic & privileged, but many others will know exactly what I mean when I say that those of us who didn’t develop a stable self-awareness as a child often experience symptoms in adulthood that create complete & utter madness in our inner & outer environments.
As I begin putting my non-tangible experiences into tangible concepts for the research that I am starting to develop, I was able to identify the essential impacts that lead to my personal identity crisis.
Three radical world view disruptions occurred at profoundly important times in my development:
1. My father’s prolonged addiction & mental health problems.
2. Repressive & dogmatic religious world views that came to an abrupt end in my early 20’s.
3. A sudden realization of my queer-ness after a life of homophobic indoctrination.
Can anyone relate? These ‘situations’ contributed to my highly distorted sense of wholeness, supremely under developed sense of self-worth & lead to the early development of an aggressive inner voice that kept me living in a bubble of fear, shame, guilt and resentment.
I grew up longing for connection but for some reason had always viewed the world as my enemy. As I reached my early 20’s and my state of mind began putting me in real danger on a regular basis, I continued to resist reaching out for help. Instead, like many others, I sought answers to my ailments through sex, drugs & rock & roll.
Not knowing this at the time, but my inner cries for help were answered through what I see now as Divine Creative Channels. I was diving into ‘The Art of Transformation’ & these practices became my mentors, teachers & guides. As I created various works, I was being shown where my pain was, where my blocks were, and being provided not a way out, but a way through a dark night of the soul.
My invisible guides spoke to me in metaphor, gut feelings, missed opportunities & bright, bold, wordless imagery.
Though the works I produced in those years were uninhibited and shadow-based, glorifying the darkness & underbelly of society, the projects I was creating were bringing communities of broken people together. The observation of what occurred in these curated collectives helped guide me to create Costume Therapy.
“We found common ground in needing unrestrained creative release & companionship. Validation for ALL the parts of ourselves & most importantly, the parts that society had shamed in our past.”
During these times of great upheaval, I ripped through what felt like endless personal identities; Experimenting with gender expression, physical presentation, eccentric spiritual practices & sexuality. Though I now use she/her pronouns and feel quite comfortable embracing my femininity, my years of dysphoria have granted me a vast understanding of what many people face on a daily basis in their journey.
I took a job at a boutique costume shop where I had to put a pause on my anxious & depressed mental states to help West Vancouver residents & TV personalities transform themselves for theme parties & corporate events. It was here that I carefully observed 100’s of client’s reactions to being dressed-up, experiencing countless shifts of energy both within each individual session, and by seeing them return year after year, each time with more bounce in their step.
I eventually took a break from the arts to deep dive into personal healing and via a complicated path of solitary travel, isolation in nature, professional therapy & eventual re-integration of my creative spirit, I find myself in a place (more often then not) of harmony, inner peace & deep love for all the aspects of my be-ing.
I now know that maintaining a balance between my passionate states of creation, non-creation & being in right relationship with Nature is essential to my inner & outer happiness. I am elated to have won this particular battle with identity, and for it to have resulted in the development of a practice which I believe has the power to create REAL CHANGE in many lives.
My current research is opening me to an ancient world of profound healing practices based in costumed performance & community ritual. I seek to bring elements of these more tribal & cultural practices into a medium where just about anyone can work through guided steps to a place of self discovery, understanding and love.
If you are finding yourself in a dangerous place with your mental health please know that healing IS POSSIBLE, no matter how dark it all might seem right now. Finding a therapist can be a complicated & intimidating process (took me 32 years to work up the courage to do it) but I can vouch for the experience being 100% less terrible then I always assumed it would be. I found answers to what I thought would be issues for life and was shocked at the complete lack of condescending dialogue that I feared so greatly. So if you’re looking for a sign to get professional…THIS IS YOUR SIGN.
*I am not a trained psychotherapist or registered counsellor so I highly recommend that you find one of these amazing folks to talk to if your situation is urgent.*
In love & gratitude to the collective consciousness…