Breaking Down Barriers

We try to push our children to try to new things and so in order to walk our talk, I try to push myself to try new things as well.

Several months ago, a contact of mine with the NC Epilepsy Foundation asked if I would participate with a new small group she was forming. This would be an experimental Art Therapy Group for people with epilepsy. Well…I am not an artist. She was prepared for that immediately and told me that wasn’t required. I don’t know many people locally with epilepsy and that has been one of the struggles for me. I figured why not, and I also figured I could bail on it by the time it all came to fruition anyway.

Several months later I got the official invitation to the program. Flashback, oh yeah, I did say I would do this. Seizure free for 7 months, I can drive now, though I had not driven on the interstate, and I certainly had not driven in Charlotte, so these were adventures I had yet to experience. Let me preface all of this by saying that in the time I received this email our oldest son was on his first international trip, without either parent. He was on a mission trip in Costa Rica with our church ministering to adults and children whom he had never met in an area that he knew nothing about. He was not afraid to try something new, to break down a barrier, so how could I be afraid of trying an art therapy class and driving down the interstate. Lame Mama…lame. No excuses here.

I needed to leave at 1:00pm so I started getting ready at 9:00am. How I ended up late leaving my house is beyond explanation. I stopped to get gas and pulled out my iphone to find the email with the address of the class. Yep, should have guessed this. I still can not find that darn email. After wasting 5 minutes searching for the email, I remembered the name of the building and asked Siri for directions and hit GO. Perfect, interstate was backed up. Worked for me, I had ZERO desire to go 65mph, my only issue was merging!

Don’t ask me where I was. I just followed Siri. Several times the roads were so close I was sure I was making the wrong turns and I waited for her to bark “recalculating” but she never did. There was a sweet gentleman behind me and he blinked his lights at me several times. I think it was his way of waving at me. Wasn’t that nice of him!?! For the life of me why does Charlotte have so many roads that change names? And how did we get anywhere before navigation? Anyway, I made it. Pulled in and knew I was at the right place when I saw all the purple ribbon magnets on cars. Similar to my running get-togethers where every car has 13.1 and 26.2 magnets, this gathering had a huddle of purple magnets on cars. Right place. Deep breaths.

I left my preconceived notions about this experience and my abilities, at the car and walked in the building. I have been working on meeting people, and being able to have conversations, since Target. My awesome therapist, Heather, who is probably reading this right now, started with that the day we met. It is a struggle almost everyday and it is the reason I force myself to do this type of thing…because I must break down barriers and push myself.

The class itself was good. It was the first of six, so it was only the beginning. To be honest, as hard as I tried I was still a bit shaken by the drive and I think I may have missed some of the intro. What scared me a little was that there was no instruction. We were just told to use pastels and draw what came from within. Say what? After a bit of sitting at blank white paper, by golly things starting flowing on the page. Even I didn’t think it was pretty. But one rule was no judging and no comments whatsoever on the drawing from anyone, so I was in the clear. The point was just to draw what came from within. It was really interesting! For a solid hour everything in my head was focused on that paper and nothing else. Enlightening! Really very enlightening! Afterward we took some time to write about our drawing. It was an interesting process and I am looking forward to seeing where it leads over the next five weeks.

I stepped outside into a bit of rain and it was 4:15. Splendid. Rush hour traffic coming, slick roads, I still didn’t know where I was and I had to get home. I hopped in the car and told Siri to take me home. As I was driving through Charlotte I noticed stop lights and I wondered if there had been stop lights on the way there. I didn’t remember them before. Still don’t. Wonder if I ran them all? At one of the stop lights I didn’t recognize the road at all, then I realized it was a one way street. Ah, well that was why I didn’t recognize that one. I’m so out of place in this city. I tried to be nice and let traffic in but I think it just made the people behind me mad. More honking and lights blinking…blah blah.

I finally hit a road I recognized, I-277. This is really not a relief at 4:40 on a Friday afternoon. I looked at my white knuckles on the steering wheel as I realized I was audibly saying “I will not fear, I will not fear, I will not fear” and then I broke into “damn-it I’m trying” as I saw cars annoyed with me trying to merge to get to I-77. I just wanted to get to I-77. I could have cared less if traffic was at a standstill. I was going to find a lane and stay there. Cars could blink, wave, honk, whatever, I decided I had made it to Charlotte, without an email for where I was supposed to be. I had been to an art class full of strangers. I had tried something completely new and different, and one way or another as long as it took, I was going to get home and I was not going to be afraid.

It was a long afternoon, emotionally. The hours were short, but I accomplished so much in those four hours. I proved to myself that I can break down the barriers when I put my mind to it. We all can. Our son did the same thing when he put his mind to breaking down barriers and going into a foreign land. I only went to Charlotte, it feels so lame when I say it, but for me it was a huge barrier, and on Friday I broke it down. I believe this Friday it will be a little bit easier.

Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, August 2014