Brave House Secrets

Origins: On Being a Shadow

There is a light of joy inside us, and once upon a time, my light shown bright; I was joyful, and I was content. But, in the nave of many yesterdays, that light of joy inside me faltered and fought to continue breathing. During that time, any memory of joy was extinguished, by choice, and put far away for safe keeping and protection in hopes that one day it might be able to show bright again. Until then, I prayed I didn’t die. That light of joy was the true essence of me; of who I was, who I am, and who I will be.

Lay Down Your Burdens, 65" x 48", ink, graphite, charcoal, paper

Therefore, for most of my life, I was a shadow; wrapping myself so tightly in the images and opinions of others, I sacrificed any dignity just to breathe. Voice, was something unimaginable and frighteningly deadly.

I always thought being a shadow was not so bad. Have you ever really stopped to look at shadows?

I did, and what I found was the perfect hiding place; the only way to remain breathing without actually existing in this world. I found a way to disappear in plain sight.

A shadow doesn’t really exist. It is a place of illusion and fantasy. A shadow is the hollow reflection of the real object. And in my case I was the hollow reflection of the real object of my desire. The objects of my desire were people who always wanted something more from me; omnipresent figures forever forcing their uglies into my privacy. I had no privacy; not even as a privilege. Underwear was a privilege. Privacy did not exist.

A Beautiful We, 30" x 20", pigment, ink, charcoal, graphite,paper
A Beautiful We, 30″ x 20″, pigment, ink, charcoal, graphite, paper
Antidote to Worry, 30″ x 22″, pigment, ink, charcoal, graphite, paper

A shadow doesn’t really exist. It is a place of illusion and fantasy. A shadow is the hollow reflection of the real object. And in my case I was the hollow reflection of the real object of my desire. The objects of my desire were people who always wanted something more from me; omnipresent figures forever forcing their uglies into my privacy. I had no privacy; not even as a privilege. Underwear was a privilege. Privacy did not exist.

These figures were people who were responsible for my safety; people in charge of my care and well-being. These were figures I was supposed to trust. This is the reason they were the objects of desire; a desire to be loved and taken care of.

1978, 48″ x 65″, cotton, ink, charcoal, graphite, thread, paper, latex, oil, unstretched cotton
1978, 48″ x 65″, ink, charcoal, graphite, thread, paper, latex, oil, un-stretched cotton

Therefore, I had to find a way to outwardly endure the disgraces inside me with a believing smile called innocence. The only way to do this was to become a shadow. I needed to cease all existence of self because nothing, no one, nowhere on this earth was safe, not even me, because my body was not my own. It was property. It did not belong to me.

A shadow is anything it needs to be and even disappears in dark times. Even when visible, a shadow is not real. It has neither feelings nor thoughts. It has no emotions. It can never be disappointed. It can only reflect back what the real object sees. It lives only because the real object is there. It is a void that allows a real object like me the blessing of non-existence. These are the qualities I needed to keep myself safe and protected.

paint much love always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower