I would like to say going in that there are good reasons why young people can become obsessed with death and suffering and the color black and the dance towards the grave. I danced that jig too when I was younger. At age 22 my experience with sexual assault came back to me in dreams. I thought they were only dream images, but as I continued to think about it and be tormented by it, I began to clearly recall the terrible things he did to me that I had been repressing for twelve years. And I deal with traumatic experience with art for some crazy reason. I took a week in 1981 to get all the horrid feelings out on paper.
You will notice the tombstone lists the date of death as being before my eleventh birthday in 1967. That is when it happened. It was not actually a sexual experience… it was torture. He took my pants off and did things to my private parts to cause me intense pain. And he even said to me that it was my own fault, that somehow I had told him that I wanted this horrible thing to happen. For several years after I intentionally used the furnace in my home to make burn scars on my lower back and the back of my legs. I believe now that I was hurting myself in order to extinguish sexual thoughts and feelings. The worst thing he did to me was make me feel guilty about what happened.
When you go back to the art of the middle ages, the paintings of Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Hans Holbein the Younger, and other European artists both young and old, you see artists grappling with mortality, the fact that all people, including me, will die. At times it can seem to the immature mind that death is the only possible escape from suffering. This artwork comes from a time when I was contemplating exactly that.
If you are looking at this closely, you will see that I signed my name to it backwards. I signed my art as Leah Cim Reyeb, or simply Leah Cim. I put these four panels into my big black portfolio and never showed them to anybody until after my abuser passed away from a heart attack. I don’t believe in Hell and I don’t believe in ghosts, so now, I finally feel safe about sharing this artwork with others. The terrible secret is a secret no longer. He can no longer reach out and hurt me any further.
I apologize for not being funny… even remotely funny… in this post. Funny is probably not the appropriate thing for this post. You may be wondering why I even bother to post it. Isn’t this a private matter, best kept to myself? You tell me. This is a terrible thing that happened to me. I am now honest about it in a way I could never be before. I can explain it without worrying about any retribution by or against him. I can finally forgive him. I can overcome what happened and be the stronger for it. And if you have read this far without being so revolted by it that you stopped reading and stopped following my blog, maybe you need to do the dance with me. Is there something you need to overcome? It can be overcome. So dance with me… and rejoice.