That's me as a first time bride in 1995.

And that's me, divorced, in 1997 and standing next to the only time I ever showed this painting of my first ex-husband, Doug, until showing it in my solo show, Couch to Canvas.

I called it What He Threw Away.

It was an assignment in class in the style of another artist (Klimt).

I remember when I did this painting I was only a month or so out from my separation from Doug and in the middle of big pain and complete confusion. I now see how this work, even the title, reflects the ways in which I was still romanticizing what I thought was our broken love and what I thought I had experienced. I had no language or context at that time to really understand what it meant to be in an abusive relationship with a dangerous person who saw me as an object to meet his needs and not as a person. Nothing in my fairly sheltered LDS upbringing in Southern Utah could have prepared me for what I went through in my relationship with this man.

Although intelligent, creative, talented, and amazing, he was also very disturbed and broken and covering up a very deep secret; he was a gay man from a popular and well thought of LDS family who was desperately trying to keep that perfect Mormon mask on. To facilitate the covering up of that secret, he manipulated and used me in the most intimately damaging ways possible. I now understand and even have compassion for why he did what he did, though that knowledge does not excuse his behavior. Behavior that left me completely broken, almost destroyed my entire concept of self, and left me vulnerable to future abusive relationships. I was lucky to walk away with my health and my life as intact as it was, though I was changed as a person forever.

The wounds from this relationship and it's domino effect on my life are still in the process of being healed.

What He Threw Away, 1997

Oil on panel

15” x 30”