Sisi has been struggling in her relationship with her boyfriend, Wai, recently as he is often away on business. A relatively anxious and sensitive person, this left her feeling depressed, worrying that she is not being understood and they will grow apart.
To deal with her negative emotions, she enrolled in an art exploration group looking at the subject of love.
Participants are encouraged to draw freely and during one session, she found herself tracing circles on a sheet of paper as she poured out all her emotions. Before long, she had added a rose (a flower that has appeared repeatedly in her recent drawings) under a sky filled with thunder and lightning.
When she had completed the drawing, Sisi tried to work out the feelings that she had expressed on the paper. She was aware of her confusion and the contradiction between her emotions. In the drawing, she was the rose, which was precious and needed thorns to protect it. She recognised her fear of being hurt. After a while, she attempted another drawing and thought about her boyfriend. Feeling calmer and more positive, Sisi reminded herself of his direct and considerate character. She drew a pair of hands holding a heart against a field of colourful flowers, and then added a rainbow in the sky.
Afterwards, she placed one drawing on top of the other. Holding them under a light, it also looked as if the hands were embracing the fragile rose, cherishing it.
Sisi was delighted with her discovery. She understood that even though they were two different people, by maturing together they were improving each other's lives. To stay in love, they had to learn to appreciate each other and compromise. All it took for her to feel comfortable was to recognise that Wai has her in his thoughts.
Art exploration or therapy is a way of exploring one's inner self in a non-verbal form. It is a way of trying to understand what is deep in your heart and also helps to calm you down. This exercise emphasises the process of reflection and connection with one's inner being rather than focusing on the end product.
There are times when we need to listen to our heart.
Natalie Law is a social worker with the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society