Today, we will talk to Alessia, a gifted artist and creator. In this podcast, I interview not only subject experts and psychologists but also emotionally intense people from all walks of lives, those who have been through unthinkable trauma and have turned their pain into art and meaningful work.
To Alessia, each of her painting is an intense emotional reaction to experiences. Through her abstract paintings, she explores identity, existence and anxiety.
In this conversation, we talked about how her chaotic childhood has affected her relationships today, the fear of abandonment, love addiction, how we can release anger and resentment towards our family, and also, her creative process.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
ABOUT THE GUEST
Born in 1994, Alessia is a half Italian half Colombian artist based in London. Being the daughter of an immigrant and coming from an abusive household, deeply influenced her work and her sense of justice, especially towards women. Since she was a child, Alessia cared deeply about social issues as well as understanding the constant passing of time in a finite life. What does it mean being a woman? What is the essence of her being? Therefore, she started to explore identity and existence in her art. Alessia’s paintings and poetry are intense emotional reactions to the current world and increased anxiety. They are a way to let go, let go of everything.
In 2016, she went back to Colombia and spent time in the jungle with a tribe that hosted her and she connected with nature, her biggest inspiration. Her paintings are a representation of her subconscious through trauma, resilience and inner child, her hands are guided by her needs as a woman in a society that aims for the destruction of individuality. Each painting comes along with a poem/lyric.
My history is quite complicated because my mum is Colombian, and my father is Italian. Because of my father’s job we had to move all over the world.
As a child I have lived in many countries — Egypt, Tunisia, Ecuador, all over Italy… I even lived in this desert.
I never felt I belonged anything. The sense of identity and belonging are themes I explore in my art. I have a tattoo that says, “I belong deeply to myself”, because at the end of the day that’s where I feel I belong. I’ve always been quite jealous of my friends that have these very strong roots, which I feel like I miss.
My childhood was messy and, to be honest, painful. My father was abusive. He was very mean and violent to my mom, and sometimes to me as well.
I saw abuse happening to my mom and it was very disturbing. I was literally a child and I had to do things like calling the police.
But then I would just go on with my friends to school or whatever and I wouldn’t really talk about it because I just thought it was something that happened everywhere.
Later, one day, I told a teacher. I said, “My father does this to my mom.” That started a whole thing of events. At the time, I did not realize that it was something not right happening.
Now I take my distances from everything, especially with my father, because he didn’t want to have a relationship with me either.
HOW DOES ALL THAT AFFECT YOUR RELATIONSHIPS NOWADAYS?
I think my life was easier when I didn’t have romantic relationships.
My first girlfriend was very controlling, I had a lot of emotional abuse.
To understand my attraction to abusive partners, I read a lot of books by Pia Melody, such as the one on Love Addiction.
It’s a horrible cycle as well because then even if someone treats me horribly, I am not able to leave them because I am too afraid of being abandoned. Since I started therapy and actually put in a lot of work myself, things started to change. The relationship I am in now, we’ve been together for three years and I never thought I could have anything like that.
WHAT HAS HELPED THE MOST?
A lot of things but first of all, therapy. Especially Dialectical Behavioural Therapy.
I went to therapy at first because of an eating disorder, so that was a lot of years of treating the eating disorder without realizing that there was something underneath as well. Something that really helped me was going back to Columbia and being around my family and nature. To me, nature is therapy, too.
In the past 10 months, I’ve been completely honest about my whole life. Previous to that, I would just lie to my therapist because they were males and I wanted to trick them because I wanted to see the suffering. Whatever it was, I would create some drama, just see if they could catch me lying.
Then one day I said to myself, “I need to get better because if I continue like this, I will die and I don’t want to die.”
Since then, I’ve worked a lot. Every day I read something new to help myself. Every day I’m very honest with my therapist. I’m honest with people around me and especially I’ve understood what are my needs instead of what I want. That’s been incredibly helpful.
For example, I might want to be with my partner forever and ever. But do I need that, if the relationship is toxic? No, I don’t need that. Cut that out. Or even like alcohol, for example, gone. I don’t drink anymore.
In the past I had relied on toxic people, on alcohol, on whatever was the thing that could keep me away from my real problems, away from facing the person that I am. Instead, when I cut all of those things, I was able face myself for the first time and actually love myself.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO RELEASE RESENTMENT TOWARDS YOUR FAMILY?
I found Step 4 in the Twelve Steps helpful. My approach to it has been making a list of the people that I resent and write why do I resent them. I’ve also put the things that I can do in order to not resent.
To not resent, we ought to forgive ourselves first of all. That’s the thing that I’ve done. I forgave myself a lot. For example, I do obviously have a lot of resentment for my father that I’m working on.
My father has dementia now; I’ve always wished something bad would happen to my father, so he would pay for the things he’s done to me and my mother. Then I received this call saying that he has dementia and I’m like, “God.” I felt guilty. I felt like as if I caused that.
So really, I needed to start forgiving myself.
I see the things that I could do to nurture myself first, so that I can be in position stable enough.
It has been very hard because I feel that if I forgive someone who has done something very bad to me, then I’m just giving up. It is as though I am saying “Okay. You can do whatever you want to me, anytime you want.” But forgiving is not about that. It’s absolutely not about that. It’s about forgiving yourself and then forgiving the other person. But it doesn’t mean you have to forget about what the other person has done. It doesn’t mean that you have to let this person do the same thing again, and if it’s needed, just take a step back from this person or the situation because what I understood is you can’t change people, places and things. Absolutely. No matter what you do, you can’t change these three and the only thing you can change is yourself.
So, I forgive myself and I accept myself so that then I can decide if I’m going to take a step back from this person or not.
Obviously, then there is the fear of abandonment that comes in saying, “Oh no. Even if they treated you bad, you’ll still need to be close to them.” But I’ve managed with that now. The same wall against it on and on and on until I realize that it’s fine to be alone. It’s completely fine. There is a difference between being alone and lonely, and there are things that I can do when I am lonely.
ON THE FEAR OF ABANDONMENT
The truth is I can’t stop the other person doing whatever they want. That’s unhealthy because you’re putting someone in a cage, and for what? That is not love.
It took me a while to understand that because I thought I was right. I thought I was completely entitled to have the other person for me 100%. Love is not like that. I understand I was like that because I was afraid that someone would do the things that my father has done to me or any other trauma that I might have had, I was too afraid to re-live it again. I’ve I realize also that if I have gone through all of those things and I am here today, then I can go through other things as well. Just because someone is not with you, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.
THE INNER ADULT AND THE INNER CHILD
Here is something that my therapist gave me as a suggestion and that’s been very helpful. Imagine the little child, little Alessia. All I have to do is protect her. I need to protect her because no one else will and no one else did before. My mom is an amazing woman and she tried so much to protect me. What I understood is that, if she couldn’t protect me back then that she’s my mom, then the only person that can actually protect myself, is just myself. That’s what I do. I just imagine myself, what can I do to help. I am the adult, so then my inner child, little Alessia looks at me and she’s happy to see the person that I have become. I need to make this child proud. I need to be able that when she grows up, she’s happy to be me.
YOUR ART PROCESS?
It’s being about letting go. For example, I do abstract art and I don’t really go for realistic art, because when I do that perfectionism kicks in. When I just pour down the colors and I just allow my hands to go for it and do what they feel is right, then that is when I am able to let go. I am completely able to just see what will happen without really knowing it.
ARE YOU STILL ANGRY AT YOUR PARENTS?
I don’t think it’s anger because what helped me was understanding them. I am more disappointed but I also understand there is a sort of trauma that is carried within generations. Especially from my father’s side. As for my mum, her father abandoned the family when they were eight. Previous to that my grandmother was very ill. From my father’s side, my grandfather was a bit violent as well. Those are all things that I looked up myself, I have asked around and I wanted to know more.
I do not want to have children, but if that ever happens, I need to be very, very careful because if it’s been dragged for so many generations and I have the awareness of it, I cannot allow to just pretend that it’s not there.
I will be very careful of how I talk to my children. An example is my sister, when she says stuff about herself like, “I’m stupid,” I always try to make her understand why she’s not stupid and you shouldn’t be saying these things about yourself. I try to lift her up as much as I can because when I used to say those things about myself, no one was there for that.
I could just be sitting here all day saying, “Why was I born into this family? Why? Why? Why? Why?” Instead what I’ve done is I said, ” Okay. It is like that. I can’t change it. I can’t absolutely change it. The only thing left for me is to accept it and work towards it.”
A BOOK THAT HAS CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU?
I have an Instagram account that’s where I post daily and that’s where I write most of the description of the paintings or anything that I’m really doing. It’s called “intense art Alessia”.
My intensity was always used at my disadvantage, and now I said I’m actually going to use it at my advantage. I’m actually going to use it to nurture myself through the odds.
My website is alessiacamoirano.com.
To join our tribe,
Please visit: https://eggshelltherapy.com
Sound Editing: Sam Lehmert: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sam-austin-lehmert-87043759/
Imi Lo is a consultant and published author with extensive and international experience in mental health and psychotherapy. Her books Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity and The Gift of Intensity are available worldwide and in multiple languages. Imi has two Master’s degrees; one in Mental Health and one in Buddhist Studies. She works holistically, combining psychological insights with Eastern and Western philosophies such as Buddhism and Stoicism.