"I carry guilt because my mom had to take care of my brother and I. She was one person taking care of two humans. That’s so much work! She didn’t have time to be herself. I didn’t learn what happened to my father until much later in life… and it was a shock. She didn’t choose to be a single mother. He chose it for her. He committed suicide. I still don’t know any of the details."
"The first time I felt pain was the night my mom and dad split as a family. He’d just come home from the club. He was half naked in his underwear, drunk. His leg was bleeding because he got jumped. That moment had a butterfly effect. It changed my life, my understanding, my self-worth. Abandonment settled in during middle school. A deep sadness followed me everywhere. I’d burst into tears during class. I’d cry to my teacher and ask, “why is my dad gone?”
"As I got older, it transitioned into self-hatred and self-rejection. Why should I love myself if my father doesn’t even love me? I think that’s partially why I struggled with my sexuality so much. I always felt rejected as a person."
"My Dad is my step-dad. My real father isn’t in my life. It created a weird relationship with men. I get super guarded and feel guilty about it. My step-dad is great. He loves me. But it all plays into perception and mistrust of self. I’m attracting good men now. But my early experiences prevent me from being vulnerable with them. This makes me the more toxic person. It’s not fair to know you love someone, to want to be intimate with them, but to still choose not to."
"I’m leaving the country next year. I know I should spend this time with my family… but I have to live my life and follow my dreams. There’s a lot of guilt inside because of it. I feel angry over how I spent my time in the past. My priorities could have been different during my time growing up. Because I haven’t reached out to my grandparents, its given them this idea that I don’t care about them. They think they’re going to die before I see them again."
"We were super poor when I was little. My parents were on fixed income. I put myself in a place of scarcity as a form of empathy to my mother. I told myself I didn’t deserve things because they would take away from her… and I think I still believe that. "
"There’s such a concrete understanding about the way things work. I think the world works however you believe it works. I want to believe that whatever I want is going to come to me, that I’m deserving of the necessities in life, that I shouldn’t have to fight for them, that I deserve to be alive, and that I don’t have to fight for that."
"I didn’t tell anyone about my sexual trauma for five years. It’s not the type of thing that happens to me, it’s what you hear about happening to other people. I blocked it out to such an extent that I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I went into a state of hyper-arousal. I stopped making sense or connecting to reality. I went somewhere else to protect myself from the pain."
"I started being admitted to psych hospitals at 19-years-old and it was terrifying. I’ve been hospitalized four times since then. Anniversaries of my trauma triggers episodes. I’ve lost friends because they can’t deal with my mental health. I’ve lived alone my whole adult life. I feel guilt and shame for anything I’ve ever done. I’m unable to forgive myself."
"We’re screen slavers. It has everything to do with removing the immediacy of our surroundings and replacing them with an alternative we can’t tangibly smell, touch or feel. We’ve almost numbed or dumbed down our audio and visual senses to anyone outside of the screen. When we go to operate on the physical plane and perform basic tasks like driving or going to the store, it almost feels like we’re not actually there, in our bodies. It’s hard to venture beyond the bubble anymore."
"Social media is based on superficiality. We’ve become a society of show-offs where people project how they want to be seen. Everyone’s self-perpetuating based on the Kardashian model. There’s a large contingency of people who are smart and understand what’s going on. These people remove themselves to a certain extent, but at this point it’s hard to cut off from it, because it’s everywhere we go, it’s in everything we do."
"Our current culture stems from the 80’s, where it was cool to have more money than needed. Indulgence was encouraged. The 40’s-70s were about being thrifty, and then the hippies were obliterated—it wasn’t cool to reuse anything anymore. The new message was: you need stuff! Keep buying stuff! New cars, shoes, tvs, radios, a new one every year, a new pair of sunglasses, a new swimsuit set every summer. As I’ve gotten older, it feels more and more like I’m in a simulation."
"Change is the only guarantee in life. People say death and taxes… no. It’s death and change. We’re about to go through our Pluto retrograde. This is just the beginning. This is the cleaning out of the shit. Pluto clears out what doesn’t belong. Our country is going to go through it. It’s exciting to be alive during this time and terrifying. We can expect the unexpected, that’s a given. I think there’s a lot of beautiful elevation happening in the collective consciousness."
"Once we strip away the seven deadly sins that have plagued us for centuries, we will have a completely different civilization. We’re still evolving. Our future is going to be very different and that’s a good thing. Age of Aquarius is coming up… 200 more years of heavy air sign placement. Aquarius is the water bearer, the communal glue, the pillar that believes we are all one in the same yet individual and separate. I can’t imagine a better sign to bring in the new age."
"I realized I was in an emotionally abusive relationship… with myself. I was living in fear and would make up things to be afraid of. I told myself if I kept thinking like that, I’d bring my fears to life. When I had a nightmare of someone standing at the foot of my bed, trying to take over my body, it clicked within me that I was designing my own system of abuse."
"I kept telling myself I was crazy because I felt there was more than one part to myself. The nightmare helped me process how everyone has multiple aspects to their personality and that’s we’ve been conditioned to fear that. We’re told that we should always be one certain way, and that being singular is being authentic—but that’s not true, because we’re always changing.”
"It’s difficult to get a job in France if you don’t have a paper saying that you have a steady job and a fixed income. I haven’t found a steady job because I don’t want to do any dirty jobs again. I don’t want to be a waiter and I don’t want to do delivery. I’m a bit picky, and that’s why it’s been difficult. It’s better for my mental health to work part-time jobs and stay with my parents. They don’t mind. They know I can work. My ideal job is working in the music industry—if it was steady."
"I knew there was a shift coming. I felt weird for three months—things felt out of place. I took a spontaneous trip to Armenia. I spent two weeks there with my family. I hadn’t seen them in years. When I got back, the pandemic happened. That got me interested in the societal psyche and the internal world of the shadow. The pandemic made people realize their confusion over what they want out of life. It forced them to go within and face themselves."
"Personally, I found a more primitive creature than I thought. I have a very high sense of trust in my health and well-being. I believe in mind over matter, that your immune system responds to your belief system. Yes, there are some things you can’t avoid. I take pride in the fact that I’ve worked myself to such a degree physically and mentally. Why do I have to worry about 8 billion people out there, when, in today’s era, we have the information to learn how to heal ourselves and get better?"
Harmony is the live painting aftermath of a virtual DJ set
“I didn’t realize I had a problem. It went from one glass to two glasses, two glasses to four glasses, four glasses to a bottle, a bottle to almost two bottles, especially on the weekends. And then I thought, ‘well, I’m not going to drink wine anymore so I’ll drink beer, that won’t be as bad.’ Everyone has the same story, they transfer from one thing to the next. I’m coming up on three years. I haven’t had a drink in three years. I don’t even have a craving.”
"My cousin and I were hanging out at my Dad’s. My cousin was pretty messed up, I guess. He went outside and came back. We did a shot together, and then I heard a loud BANG. I turned around and he was there on the ground. It was quick. He didn’t suffer. I called the cops and they brought detectives. I had no idea it was going to happen. He was never that type of person. He’d been diagnosed with a medical condition and was getting blood clots in his lungs. It was hard for him to go through."
"We went skydiving five years ago. It’s the only time I’ve ever been on a plane. He wanted to do it for a living. When the blood clots began, he wasn’t allowed up there. I think that messed with his mind. But I never got the sense he’d do what he did. When I was younger, at my grandma’s funeral, he told me never to think about how a person leaves this earth or that they’re gone, only focus on the good memories that you shared. That ran through my head a lot."
"After that I had to sleep in the living room. I started having night terrors, reliving what happened. One day my Great Uncle, a Vietnam vet, asked me to open up about it. He saw traumatic things in the war. He told me an experience like that never leaves you, it’s always in the back of your mind. But you have to make peace with it and live how they wanted you to live, in their memory. My cousin wouldn’t have wanted me to be depressed."
"Now that I talk about it I realize it was a sad and dark time. I made my own peace with everything—within my inner self, my own soul and mind. At the end of the day, everyone’s path is already written down, even if it seems unexpected. I’m living life, striving to be happy. I’m grateful for every day that I’m here now. I used to be impatient and hot headed. Nothing ruins my day anymore. I’m happy all the time. It will always get better as long as you make peace within yourself. "
“My cousin went to art school and showed up at my house one day. He’d dropped out of college. I was 11. He told me I wouldn’t get anywhere if I draw anime. He threw away all my pencils with erasers away and gave me ink. He told me I needed to understand that before I make any mark, I had to think about it. He taught me how to draw through the form, to draw in 3-D. I did. I never stopped. I can confidently say that I’m really good at drawing human figures.”
“LSD is a rite of passage in my family. My grandfather was an acclaimed sociologist. He was attending Harvard when he signed up for a medical study to make money. It turned out to be MK Ultra. They put him on LSD for a week in a mental hospital. He found out ten years later. He had a men’s group and started doing ritual LSD with them every year for the rest of his life until he died at 86. He was on LSD when he died. He was on his deathbed and took it to ease the transition into death."
"My first boyfriend was a heroin addict and he taught my sister how to use heroin. She was 16. We were at a party. She was taking a lot of Xanax at the time. She passed out and was raped by a kid we we went to school with. After that she lost her mind. She couldn’t sleep, she didn’t go to school. I didn’t know my boyfriend at the time was a heroin addict—I didn’t know what heroin was. My sister bought him heroin and he taught her how to shoot up. That’s how it started and it never stopped."
"I felt like I was faking who I was for 27 years. It still feels like a lot to be comfortable talking about it. To be able to turn to my family and also receive love and support, to hear them say “we just want you to be happy” meant the world. I’m getting better at it as time goes on. I still don’t know what I want."
"The morning after Halloween I woke up to the sound of popping glass in my bathroom. I open my door and there’s a fire tornado in my bathroom. I ran into my hallway, dialing 911. The fire department came and threw buckets of water on it. They tried to blame cosmetic candles that were Halloween decorations. An investigation came and said it wasn’t the apartment’s fault—it was something I did? I have no clue what it was. If I did I’d have peace of mind right now."
"Humanity is the actual pandemic. Mother Earth is like “you guys are bags of red water.” She’s shelling it right now. Mother Earth is like, I’m going to stick my finger in every hole you have on your body, and you can’t stop me, because you fucked up a beautiful thing to live on. I’m going to give you Donald Trump first and then a pandemic, bitch. You see. You see what happens."
"I went riding bikes with my dad. It was a long ride up an extinct volcano. My dad was some meters in front of me when I crashed my bike. I got a mild concussion. I kept hearing a voice in my head, which wasn’t a great thing, but it motivated me continue riding all the way home. It told me that I belonged in the army, that I should join. After that I chose to study medicine and private, governmental and military intelligence."
“When I’m feeling joy, it’s lovely and great. When I’m feeling pain, it cuts deep. I spiraled into depression because I didn’t have the proper tools and support system in place. I learned to heal through writing. When I don’t write, my feelings ferment, rot and make me sick. Depression is a sickness. I was sick. It wasn’t my fault. I needed the experience to reach a place of stability, to be honest with myself about what I want.”
“I’ve been learning I am the way I am because of what happened to me. I was violently abused by my best friend’s mother for years. She would tell me not to tell my parents or I would get in trouble. I’d tell my parents anyway, and they wouldn’t believe me. I have a child now, and that’s what’s forcing all of this to come back up for me. If a child says something like that to you—how can you not believe them?”
“I’m aware everyone is dealing with their own stuff, but this year it all came at me out of nowhere and made me realize you can never be comfortable in life. I need to dig in a bit more, be there for my friends and family so they can include me in their problems and I can be there for them as much as possible.”
Click any tile on the left for an expanded view with anonymous excerpts.
Paint Release is an interactive form of art therapy that turns trauma into a talisman—a painting with an energetic imprint unique to you.
Each session exists in a safe space, a place where it's acceptable to express any pain, fear or impact on your life. There's no right or wrong "thing" to release.
After a guided body scan and sharing segment, I simultaneously fling, brush, squeeze, pop, and otherwise transfer the energy to a canvas using colors, objects and movements that correspond to your release.
It's common to find forms and symbols in the completed painting. They serve as freed events, memories and ideas.
The canvas is yours to keep. It serves as a lasting reminder of the weight you were brave enough to free.
If you're interested in having your energy captured in an abstract painting, schedule a session here.
FEATURED: ARTIST GIANNI ARONE RELEASES EXISTENTIAL ANGST