Here is another updated version of an excerpt from my autobiography entitled Art as Therapy in the chapter Heal Thyself.

Trigger warning: references to abortion are contained herein.

There are many different art forms in this world but the two that have helped me the most – by way of allowing me to get in touch with deeper emotions – have been music and movies. Music played a much more important role in my teens – especially heavy metal/hard rock because it allowed me to get in touch with my anger. I used to go upstairs to an entertainment room my father had built over the garage, lock the door and proceed to play all sorts of music in order to feel whatever it was that was coming up for me in that moment. Sometimes, I played records (only the vinyl variety was in existence in my childhood) and at other times, I switched on the radio changing the stations until I came across a song that suited my mood. I would jump around and scream to release anger, frustration and hatred, and I would move slowly, sit still and/or ball my eyes out when I felt guilt, sorrow and sadness.

The sadness in relation to the loss of my aborted male child was felt through an Elvis Presley song called My Boy. Even though the lyrics are not about the loss of a son (they are about the disintegration of the relationship between the father and mother of this child), the brilliance with which Elvis conveys this sorrow allowed me to feel something that I could not express, especially since I had no conscious memory of the abortion as a teenager. I would listen to this song over and over again until there were simply no more tears left to shed.

Movies were far more significant to me in my twenties and beyond. I prefer dramas as they allow for a deeper emotional transformative experience. This genre includes violent films which were a means by which I could get in touch with my homicidal rage. Gangster films, Rambo, Die Hard…take your pick of violent flicks. I loved seeing the bad guys suffer and/or be wiped off the face of the earth. I always imagined my abusers as these people and it was so very satisfying.

The one movie that exemplified this type of catharsis was Taxi Driver. This film was released in 1976, when I was six-years-old. I did not get to see it until I was aged thirty-two: at the time when my PTSD was at its peak. I recall watching it on TV. The protagonist Travis Bickle (played magnificently by Robert De Niro) befriends a child prostitute (played equally brilliantly by Jodie Foster) whom he saves by murdering her pimp and anyone else who gets in his way. The part of the movie portraying this bloody rescue is my favorite because I imagine that my abusers die in such a way (as usual), and, I believe that this girl is me being rescued by this crazy, caring character.

Looking back on it now, I realize that seeing this movie earlier in life would not have had the same therapeutic effect. This is because I was reliving those traumatic parts of my childhood at the time that I saw it. That is, on a psychological level, it was as if I was watching that movie as that traumatized child. So, it was as if that bloody rescue was happening to me for real.