As most who follow KGA on Facebook know, once a month I run a win a KGA art piece dialogue. My art has never been, and will never be, about how much it is worth or how pretty it looks. I paint because of the voices I hear – yours, theirs, my own, my ghosts. I paint to connect, and I hope that my pieces can live with you, be with you, walk beside you and give you a place to retreat to or a way of explaining how you are feeling, existing, experiencing this life of ours.
This month I asked a simple enough question. If I could paint you a place to be, a place to retreat to, a place to go to, what would that look like, and, why?
I was messaged privately by a cop, twelve years in the job.
Here was the opening few paragraphs. The rest shall remain between and my new cop friend who I shall refer to as “M”.
“Hi Katie, I saw your post on Facebook about wanting insight on PTSD. While I haven’t officially diagnosed by a psychiatrist, my other medical practitioners believe, as do I, that I have it. I am a police officer and have been for 12 years. People like to believe that it’s a one time event that causes it but it isn’t always. Especially when you are in a Critical incident almost daily. Quite a few of us in my service believe it is also accumulative. All I can tell you is it takes away everything. I will shut myself away from everyone for days or weeks because I can’t deal with people. I trust no one. I am in constant high alert status. Then I get exhausted and need to sleep. Which leads To hours long naps. I don’t sleep either. I might get 5 hours or so but it is never an uninterrupted sleep. It is always restless. It doesn’t matter if I nap or not. You can’t talk about it with others, even in your own profession because you become ‘the head case’ or they just don’t want to hear it. Your family won’t understand partly because they don’t want to hear the crap you’ve been through. They also don’t understand why things bother you. Then when you realize you can’t turn to them they wonder why you cut them out of your life and only talk about trivial things. The more you push yourself away the more things get twisted. Your non police friends don’t understand why you are cold/standoffish at times. You start to feel like the world is against you. The worst part is you start to believe that no one wants you. You are broken. It’s at this point you push people even farther away because they don’t ‘get it’.”
I am frustrated that we are still here. We are still not moving forward. Yes, there is Calgary Police and York Regional Police who are leading the way with progressive ways of protecting their heroes, but HELL! Where are the rest of you? TEMA – awesome! But what are we doing on the West Coast.
Anyways, I can only give voice to what I hear. So let me hear it. Let me paint it and maybe more and more will listen, when the art slaps them around the chops and says ‘STAND UP’.
For now though I will paint M a peaceful place, a place that says come here, rest here a while, know that you are loved, valued and supported. That I hear you. I see you. I care. You will have a mountain with a gentle breeze, water cleansing as it resuscitates your jaded self, jagged edges cleaned away and the debris, detritus of your day deleted from your empathic brain. You are my protector, but for the time that you look at this canvas I am your sanctuary.
This I shall paint for M.