Collection: Finding Hope

New works by Melissa Porter

This latest body of work is a reflection of a time in my life when I was going through a bitter divorce from my abusive husband and fighting a custody battle I did not see coming. Looking back through my existence during this time I felt like my vision of the world was cloudy, thick with despair and the ground underneath me unstable. It felt like what I imagine swimming through peanut butter would be like and I have come to think of these years as the peanut butter years. I have chosen an encaustic medium, to represent the lack of clarity and distorted perception I was experiencing at the time.

The work of finding Hope.

Have you ever found yourself on the floor crying out “circle the wagons, man down” and no one is there to hear your cries? Where do you look for Hope?

When despair is so great and the impact from the trauma is so forceful and abrupt, the idea of Hope never gets a chance to enter the mind. Dangerous thoughts seep in like pulling the car into the garage and letting it run. Where is the elusive Hope then?

I wasn't looking for Hope when she found me on the floor the first time. I no longer cared, and hardly noticed that she was there loudly insisting that I get up. As a husky I had never seen Hope as an affectionate dog, but she had a keen ability to sense an emotional storm brewing inside me long before it knocked me to the ground.

She had always been a rather vocal dog but her volume and tone increased drastically soon after we as a family moved into a smaller house. She bitched at me for weeks from sunup to sundown. At my heels, just bitching. Nothing she normally liked or did satisfied her, she had something to say and she let me have it. It was exhausting and made it hard for me to think. It wasn't until the man I was married to moved out of the house that she settled down. It was like a switch was flipped, ON/OFF. Just like that she stopped. I like to think she finally felt heard and I realized she knew and saw things I was not present to witness. I learned to trust her instincts as I could no longer trust my own. Being gaslit does that to a person; it makes you doubt yourself when your reality is distorted to cover the lies told by the manipulator.

Once the predator had left us, Hope got quiet, as did the rest of my world. Friends I never thought I would lose, gone. The slamming door and shrill of kids running through my house, done. It still feels like it ended all too abruptly and I haven't quite gathered up all the pieces of me that I have left behind and maybe I’m not supposed to. “Circle of Friendship” with its sacrificial yellow leaves represents all the parts of me that I gave away to those individuals that I felt or wanted to feel connected to.

In the quiet time when I was alone, I began to talk out loud to Hope. When I responded harshly to myself she would let out a sigh at just the right moment, I realized she would never talk to me in that way! When you learn to trust what you bring to the table has value and learn boundaries where there once was none, you get comfortable eating alone. “At My Table” was created to express my comfort in sitting alone and my circles of friends with their access to me.

I feel very fortunate that the Hope that found me was the kind of dog that didn't sit still. In the darkest of days I would walk with Hope at night so that no one could see me crying. I would connect her to a waist belt, open the door and off she would take us. I couldn't tell you in which direction we went or how far we traveled. I just knew at some point we would end up safely back at home. The miles I traveled with my faithful companion are represented in “Miles of Grief”.

The miles on the road we took to get us here to Colorado. The miles logged back and forth to Michigan trying to make it right and connect with my only child. The miles and miles of city blocks all perfectly laid out in a grid. The miles we logged on the paddle board though I knew she preferred her feet on solid ground.

I’m fortunate and I’m here because Hope found me on the floor and helped back on my feet.