Watercolour painting

Created: 31/12/2012
Artist: Selina Shapland

This watercolour and black ink pen painting was inspired by something very profound for me related to my father who passed away in 2000 from throat cancer.

I never thought he loved me.  It is as simple as that.  As I grew up, I saw a man addicted to alcohol who was in a great deal of emotional pain.  I perceived him through the eyes of a frightened child and did what I could to survive in a unstable life.  My mum did everything she could, with the knowledge and experience she had at the time to protect my brother and I from our father’s misguided alcohol induced aggression.

So many years of walking around and picturing my father in my head as a monster, someone who didn’t care for me, rejected me, discarded me have taken their toll on my nerves and I realised over this past weekend that I have been holding myself in emotional bondage to an out of proportion perception of who I thought my father was when he was alive.

I have tried to go to forgiveness and I have chipped away at letting go of this internal defining label, yet I felt I was battling demons bigger than I could handle.

Life has a funny way of helping me out when I am emotionally constipated and this was one of those times.  I went to a course on human behaviour and values which is where I had a profound realisation that my father did love me, very much.

The exercises were tough as I could no longer hide in a victim mentality and had to face that my father was a whole person, not half a person, not a complete bastard at all.  My internal perceptions were suddenly, radically changed and as I worked through the exercises to understand how his actions benefited me and how all these traits I hated are also a part of my own human foibles, tears began to flow.

The pain that rushed out of my chest where my heart pounded is indescribable.  I felt my father with me and was suddenly transported to all the times when he had tried to show me love but because I was angry with him for drinking himself into a stupor, I blocked out as irrelevant.

I cried.  I cried so much that I could hardly breath and I realised that I love my dad so much for who he was not who I wanted him to be.  I loved him for the first time for all his faults and let myself accept the love that he had tried to express to me finally rush in.

There are no words to describe what this kind of thing feels like… so I began to draw and allow myself the gift of creating a representation of what happened for me during this release.

Dad, I love you. I know that I am the person I am today because of you.  I know in my heart now, how deeply you loved me and I am finally opening up to letting love flow between us.  It does not matter to me that you have passed over as I believe that love knows no bounds and wherever you are, I know my love will reach you.