3 Ways Art Saved My Life

Saved Photos-4769 Picture by Dee Ashley (some rights reserved)

From the very first day I searched for freedom from my pain, art has been my salvation – it saved me. I can’t imagine my life without it. Who I’d be, what life would be like now. So in honor of that journey and for anyone out there looking for solace and understanding, looking for hope, here are the 3 ways are saved my life:


Every moment I could have turned my broken and pain into violence against myself – excessive drinking, smoking, or drugs, into cutting or anything self-destructive – I turned to art. On all the hopeless days, where life felt more curse than blessing, among my closest family and friends, I also had my art. I used to it to escape. I used to to find understanding. When people I loved were struggling with mental illness, when I was at the hopeless bitter end of a toxic relationship, when the church decided my family struggled because we weren’t Christian enough I turned to drawing, photography, and always writing. I wrote myself into other worlds, and eventually I wrote my world into this one so that others would feel seen and understood in a way I rarely have.


For all the moments I was emotionally and psychologically self-destructive – for all the broken people I loved because I couldn’t love myself – art was my forgiveness and healing. I learned to forgive and love myself through the beautiful things I created out of my pain. It’s hard not to judge yourself when you turn to people who are toxic in your life and treat you terribly. I was really hard on myself for a long time because of it. But slowly, I wrote myself into understanding my choices and pains. When no one else would listen or couldn’t possibly understand, my art always did, and it even helped me find a few others who understood as well.


Through art, all the traumas in my life – past, present, and future – have purpose. That enlivens me, it gives my life meaning and purpose. That saves me again each and every day.  Because purpose is the enemy of hopelessness. Pain has to mean something. Trauma has to mean something. Going through something terrible without finding meaning, that’s how we get lost and stuck. Art gave my broken meaning. It wasn’t always easy, but it was way out – a way out that gave me purpose, hope, and the beginnings of self-worth.

Art has so much power – all forms of it. If we give it half a chance, I truly believe it can change the world one individual and community at a time. If one person can better understand and empathize with themselves through art, imagine what it can do for entire communities given the opportunity. It helped me find hope, kindness, compassion, strength, courage, and love for myself and my journey. Something for too long I never imagined having.

If you know at all what that’s like or know someone who might and could use the encouragement, then share my post.


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