I really want to share with you my journey to the World Body Painting Festival and what I experienced. It took me a long time to try and have any sense of exactly what I felt when I hopped on that plane. To give those a background, I was named Australian Body Painter of 2018 at the Australian Body Art Awards in Melbourne in March.
This was completely unexpected for me and my little family. It came with a ticket to fly to and compete at the World Body Painting Festival in Austria in July. (I took my sister, my model, Chook). I’d spent some time on YouTube watching WBF and watched a few Aussie painters go over there and it looked just insane. I mean, this is like a dream come true right?
As soon as my name was called, I remember thinking, “Shit, how on EARTH am I meant to get on the plane?” My fear levels with air travel are completely mile high and I just felt like vomiting.
From the point of winning to the time I got on the plane, most all I could think about was the control that I was letting go by travelling in the air. I just wanted to spend time with my kids before I left because I could DIE or they could DIE and I wasn’t able to be there for them.
We touched down in Hong Kong and I burst into tears. There were many parts of my whole being that couldn’t really deal with being so far away from my kids and my husband. There was also the fact that I’d made it to solid ground again and we needed to hop back on another plane. It was just too much.
We landed in Venice about 10 o’clock at night. Now organising water travel at night is expensive there (as is pretty much everything you do, including taking a shit), however, it was so magical arriving at night to the occasional sound of people talking and walking on cobbled stones and no car sounds. I knew that as soon as I’d had some sleep and woke up, I’d feel a lot better.
The next two days were spent exploring Venice and honestly, it is poetically beautiful. We stayed down where it wasn’t as touristy and I think I would recommend that if you are staying for awhile.
On the Sunday we caught a train up to Klagenfurt and as we crossed into Austria, I said to Chook, “You know, you’re not going to know me for the next week. I’m not even going to know myself.”
Wow, what prophetic words. I couldn’t believe how true those words were, especially for my own experience of who I was.
We made it to our lodgings, where the beautiful Diana met us. And basically that was me for the next 3-4 days. I was an uncontrollable sobbing mess.
The fear I felt was very, very real to me. I felt highly, highly uncomfortable.
I kept calling Cam. And before I left he said, “We won’t bother you, you just call us when you need.” Hahaha!! I distinctly remember sobbing (in a way I haven’t done for years) on my bed trying to talk to him, and it felt like I was looking down at myself with absolute incredulity thinking, WHO is this person?
The words that came out of my mouth?
Along the lines of….I feel fat…I feel like everyone is looking at me…I don’t know who I am…I’m ugly…I don’t know how to behave…I’m freaking out…I want to come home right now…How do I do this?…My paint is crap…How do I have fun?…
Even typing these words are bringing tears to my eyes. Something I have learnt in my life that I know is good for me is to stay with the feelings. However, THIS fear that I felt was just so overpowering, it was fucking incredible. I had no tools to know how to deal with it.
For the few days that I was walking around crying and sobbing and talking to Cam, there was this part of me that was saying, “You need to experience this. This is growth, this is healing.”
But at the same time it was the most out of body-in body experience I’d ever had and I didn’t know my arse from my elbow.
You know when you have a problem and you call your mate and throw some ideas around? I didn’t know who to call. I felt like if I called a friend it would have been too big a burden for them. I wanted to blog my experience but that flew out the window because all I was doing was walking around crying. I felt like the biggest, most awkward weirdo on the planet.
And I want to bring you now to a point – I had to compete! At the Worlds! WTAF!!!!!