“And the weight in my stomach feels like a stone—a stone l’ve been trying to chisel at for years now, to remove from my body so I can finally, maybe for the first time since I was a child, take a deep full breath and feel freedom. I just want it out—I can’t keep feeling this tension and the inability to be fully open. I think the anxiety of wondering when the fish will try eating me replaces the anxiety I feel when thinking of my family. I feel like they are farther and farther away. I hear the noise of their voices, but their anger slowly fades. I hope the rock in my stomach will eventually fade into powder and float out of my body through my breath. I think the sea will help. It feels like it’s loosening something within me. Even though I feel sad, I am also feeling more myself, my own self—not connected to the past but to the present. Each of us lives our own life, and we choose how much we want others to affect it. I am learning not to be affected by others and to stay within myself, a self surrounded by the sea—alone, but not with the fear or nightmares that I had for so long. There is no fear of abandonment, of being left at sea. I feel that I am in the middle of an ocean of choices. It is here that I feel connected to the world, to life, to nature, to purity, and to the unknown.”
This project reflects upon my process of letting go of my family and releasing the weight of their expectations of me. For years, I carried their voices within me everywhere, their whispers inflecting my opinions of my career, appearance, and lifestyle. Their influence came to be an almost tangible presence in my body—a stone lodged in my stomach, lungs, or throat. It has taken a long time to chip away at the bonds of blood that tie me to them.
I have illustrated this progress towards liberation in a sculptural installation of shattered rocks, which symbolize the dissolution of the different pressures that snatched at my consciousness and kept me from hearing myself. The sculptures are accompanied by an audio recording based on an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy session, in which I describe and work through a past trauma. Resounding throughout the space, the volume on the recording gradually increases over several minutes, peaking at an oppressively loud level before falling again. In part, this manipulation of the audio illustrates how overwhelmed I was by my family’s power, while also referring formally to the iterative crest and trough of the sound of the ocean, where I first began to feel free.