Colors Of My Life-Shadows and Highlights


For years I wished I knew how to paint. I had a girlfriend who’s walls were decorated with paintings she had done. I envied her talent, I had tried to paint and for some reason it never looked like what I was seeing. I could see what I wanted to paint but when the paint got on the canvas it was just a bunch of one-dimensional blobs of color. I gave up and accepted I just did not have the talent to paint. I was artistic in other areas and used my creativity to decorate my home with flower arrangements and other crafty pursuits but I still wished I could paint.

For literally years I would make an attempt at painting only to be disappointed every time.

Then, while with JC, we moved to the gravel pit. I loved to garden, having my hands in soil and putzing in the garden was my serenity, it gave me peace, I prayed while I gardened, especially since being with JC, gardening had always been my retreat but now it was even more important to me. As you can well imagine, a gravel pit is not conducive to gardening plus it was early spring and too cold to plant. There was no TV, no internet, no phone, only AM radio and I was slowly going crazy trapped there without a vehicle 10 miles from my nearest friend. JC was hauling scrap and got a cargo van that was full to the roof with “stuff”. There was furniture, tools, and craft supplies. I pulled out some acrylic paints and brushes and other craft supplies and put them away.

One rainy day I was flipping through gardening magazines, wishing I could be planning a garden somewhere, crying because I was so far from any place I wanted to be.

I remembered when JC and I first got together 3 years earlier, what a different relationship it had been. I had moved into his apartment with him. When spring came I got very depressed about being on the 3rd floor and not having a garden to dig in. I had gone to him in tears and told him I needed dirt to dig in. He had laughed, picked me up and packed me to the bed, pulled me close to him, kissed my forehead and stroked my hair as I laid with my head on his chest and told him how digging in the dirt was my serenity and I missed my gardens. We made love and then he to me to a garden shop and bought me planters, bags of dirt and plants and when I mentioned I always wanted a pond he bought a big plastic planter.  He helped me set up a small waterfall on the deck that I surrounded with various sized planters full of flowers. I loved him so much for that and I had felt so loved and understood.

I pulled out the paints and again tried to paint the flowers I saw in the magazines. The same thing happened, just blobs of color on a piece of paper. I sat there looking at the blobs of color and the picture; why did my painting not look like the picture? Then it hit me, the flower had depth, which meant shading and variations in the colors. Instead of wasting paper I took a cookie sheet and painted on it so I could wash it off and I start experimenting. I looked at the picture with new eyes, I noticed that where the sun hit the flower it looked almost white, and the center was almost black, so I started to paint the flower again this time adding highlights of white and shadows of red mixed with black or darker red. I only had a few colors so was limited but I could see a flower when I was done, not a blob. I washed it off and tried again.

Over time I collected more colors and got better and better, until I couldn’t bring myself to wash off the cookie sheet any more and I found something else to paint on, I painted frying pans, saw blades, coffee pots and I ended up with dozens of art pieces. JC started to say I should sell them, they were that good, then a friend of his bought several items. It was a year later that I loaded up everything I had painted and took them into Fort Langley and sold them.

But the point I am trying to make is this: After I realized that everything had variations of color I never viewed things the same. Everything I looked at I viewed as if I were going to paint it and realized that although mountains aren’t blue they will appear blue from a distance, moss is not green, it is yellow, bright green, brown, the sky is blue but so many shades of blue and clouds have blurred edges.

I had always been a “black and white” person, I didn’t have grey areas. I had solid boundaries  and very firm views on right and wrong and the longer I was with JC I had to change my view of the world because he had so many grey areas and nothing was clearly defined. I had to learn to be flexible and adaptable to survive, I had to view things differently than I ever had before.

Learning to be adaptable was not always a good thing, it enabled me to stay with JC a lot longer than I should have and I compromised in areas I shouldn’t have but the end result after leaving him is that I now am stronger for it and my boundaries and views are my own and not someone else’s beliefs that have been forced on me. I know JC would love to take credit for this transformation. Had he not pushed me I would have remained rigid and judgmental, but my transformation although a byproduct of his abuse was not because of any good intentions on his part. His motives were purely selfish in nature and he didn’t care how it would affect me long-term. As far as he knew he would leave me in the same emotional devastation he left all the others, he did not know I would take the experience and eventually flourish, he intended to destroy me. If he wants to now take credit for my strength he can kiss my ass.

I am telling you this because you may be stuck thinking you can’t leave, or life will never be better than it is, your life is destroyed and there is no hope of ever finding happiness again. Even black has variations in color, look at your keyboard right now; if it was solid black it would be all but impossible to type and find the keys. But the light bounces off the angles, the recesses of the keys are black but where the light reflects give definition.

Life is like that, it may seem impossible, bleak, black and foreboding, hopeless but if you look at it honestly and with different eyes you will see there are always options, always another way of looking at it. You have to train yourself to see the possibilities and not look at things as solid colors.

Experiment, you can always wash off the cookie sheet if you don’t like it, but look at the possibilities. Explore your options, there are always options, you can say “I can’t leave” but have you exhausted all your options? do you know all your options? You can never say I can’t if you haven’t explored your options. Look for opportunities not obstacles.

We all have choices, to stay or leave, to stagnate or to grow, to be beaten down or to stand strong, to stay with the devil we know or take the chance on the unknown.

3 thoughts on “Colors Of My Life-Shadows and Highlights

  1. K.L.Richardson

    It’s called a paradigm shift and once you see the “other” you can’t unsee it. My paradigm shift came in the way I remembered the past. Before the shift I always longed for it because it seems that I was loved, cherished, taken care of “then”. And one day, I still don’t know what caused it, I was mulling over something and it was like I got hit by lightening. All of a sudden I saw it for what it was, lies, manipulation, coercion and a cage. It might have been a silver cage but a cage nonetheless. Now when I start to think of the past my mind always stops itself and says” Yes it DID seem sweet but now you know the truth”. And then I just move on…



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