SoulCollage® as a means of fleshing out the voice of wisdom in postpartum and eating disorder recovery
When women develop their voice (and with it their sense of self) and when they flesh out those parts of themselves that have been sacrificed to the Body Myth they can then move from…emotional emptiness…to the fully-grounded substance of their lives. Instead of changing their bodies so that they can change their lives, women can accept their bodies and get on with and celebrate their lives.
–Margo Maine, The Body Myth
What is soulcollage® ?
A kind of collage in which you make a deck of collaged cards (no limit on the amount) for yourself, each card representing one aspect of yourself, it is a collage process that images the multidimensional parts of one’s Self. You can then create your own deck of wisdom from which to ask a question and find answers. (To read more, go to Soulcollage.com)
How I discovered soulcollage®
I discovered SoulCollage® as a new mom, finding it to be an expressive art modality that I could fit in between naps and breast-feeding. I had heard about it for years, but being a Psychologist who has been trained in so many expressive arts modalities, I thought SoulCollage® wouldn’t have anything new to offer. I was delightfully wrong!
The first card I made was to honor the generational legacy that I was spanning with my parents, grandparents, and now my own child. It imaged the lineage my parents had travelled, new appreciation of the difficulties of parenthood, and awareness of my own parents’ mortality. As I had already discovered with other expressive arts modalities, the images uncovered, expressed, and held multidimensional emotional aspects of myself that words alone could not have spoken.
The next card I made was about accepting my postpartum belly. I wrestled with body image postpartum and didn’t have a forum for discussing the feelings underlying these changes. Being a new parent was a liminal time, a rite of passage that included not only
a new body, but a whole new identity. Making this card of my postpartum “muffin top” helped me quiet my body image critic, honor my newly emerging mommy-self, and acknowledge both the grief and joy involved in being a new parent.
soulcollage® and Eating Disorder Recovery
For the past decade and a half, I have worked with women recovering from starving, restricting, or stuffing their voices. This shows up as “disordered eating.” And yet, when I brought soulcollage® into working with these women, it became absolutely clear that the “disordered,” or not yet given a voice, parts of the self have a LOT of wisdom to share (and very little of it is about food). Just like new parenthood, eating disorder recovery is a rite of passage time in a woman’s life during which vulnerabilities and sometimes formerly unwanted or not-yet-voiced parts of the self show up with incredible wisdom.
The following is a SoulCollage® reading (shared with permission) by a client recovering from an eating disorder. This client was quiet in group, often restricting her authentic voice. She had an overdeveloped critical voice that constantly attacked her and tried to separate her from her authentic voice. During her reading, I was so inspired to finally hear her wise, authentic voice finally speak its truth, I almost cried. Her question was around how to maintain her sense of self when she went back to school after being in treatment for her eating disorder.
I Am One Who is desperate for connection, will take on the experiences of others, in doing so losing my sense of self. Although I think this is for safety, it leads me into an internal battle and brings about much pain. Stay true to yourself. Getting lost among others will ultimately never bring you the connections you strive for.
I Am One who is determined, even in the face of much adversity, even when overwhelmed with sadness, hopelessness, and solitude. Continue fighting for your passion, even in the most intense moments of isolation. You are never alone. You will always have somebody by your side to get you through the day.
I Am One Who can overcome the odds. My internal force born within me can push me through even the most disheartening of situations. I have a well of support from which to draw. This will keep me going, even when there seems to be nothing left.
As evidenced by her reading, this woman clearly had incredible access to her own strong, fierce wisdom and power when given a modality that encouraged her to go within and listen!
As a right brain process that can bypass the critical parts of the self, soulcollage® can access the wisdom held in formerly judged parts of the self. Parts of the self such as disordered eating, postpartum bellies, chameleon-like parts,and isolated parts begin to have a voice. Instead of being parts to avoid or silence, these parts become a source of wisdom and guidance. By doing this, they can illuminate the way in and through liminal times in a woman’s life such as disordered eating recovery and new parenthood, showing us that we always have a voice, and offering fiercely compassionate guidance we didn’t even know we had.
Dr. Linda Shanti McCabe is a Clinical Psychologist and SoulCollage® Facilitator in San Francisco. To see current soulcollage workshop offerings, click here: soulcollageworkshops