When I was 19, I met and fell in love with a man that eventually became my first husband. It was a love like I had never had before, and he was very good to me. That’s until he became addicted to cocaine and heroin…
There was so much promise in that relationship. He was one of the youngest tractor trailer drivers in the business at the time making good money. I was getting more and more involved in the information technology field, a booming field both in terms of job opportunities and pay scale, and I also was bringing home a good paycheck. We had the world at our fingertips. Then he was introduced to free basing (smoking cocaine) and my world began to crumble around me.
After giving birth to our Sun, things began going downhill rapidly. Although he was present for the pregnancy and birth, his habit was growing steadily worse. I don’t remember the first time he hit me, but it was before our Sun was a year old and our marriage was less than 2 years old. I found myself in a position where I didn’t know what to do. I was young – just 19 – and a new mother. I was in love. And I was scared shitless…
Thankfully, I was one of the “lucky” ones. I had family, a support system. I had parents who were empty nesters, living in a huge 6-bedroom house alone and could go home at any time I needed to. I had people who would check on me every day to ensure I was OK and to offer support any way they could. People who paid my rent, put food on my table, ensured my Sun got to daycare and I got to work every day… I had a job at the Baltimore Jewish Council that was like family – very understanding and supportive. For 5 years, the BJC supported me through this, understanding when I missed days because I had black eyes or visible scars. My supervisor became my “Jewish mom”, taking care of me, picking me up in the mornings to get my Sun to school and take me to work.
I was surrounded by love and support…
But, due to “societal norms,” not one of them ever counselled me to leave him. They were there to support me but would not cross the line that society put in place so they “stayed in their place.” Thankfully, I soon was strong enough to leave him on my own. Having so much support in addition to having a place to escape to – home – helped this decision to come sooner than later. I had an out. Always did, it just took me 5 years to realize it. Once I removed my Self from the abusive situation, the demons started screaming: “You should have stayed and worked it out!” “He’s you husband and needs you to help him through this and you left him!” And the screams became louder and louder the longer I stayed away.
Fast forward some 20+ years, and I found myself in another abusive marriage. This one emotionally abusive rather than physically, but abuse is abuse. I also found myself seeking tools to heal my Self – not only so I could be strong enough to leave that situation, but also to heal the past wounds that I never gave the time or attention to in order to heal. I had always been creative. Creativity saw me through my first experience with intimate partner violence. It was what was getting through my then current situation. And it was at this juncture that I knew, if properly utilized, creativity could be the tool that saved my life.
I had found Shiloh Sophia and Intentional Creativity® about 7 years prior – around 2006. The images of the feminine and the Divine Feminine were screaming my name! But I kept running from them. I didn’t understand that they were calling me to healing. There was a strong attraction to the imagery. They were telling me a story of the strength of women; of our plight; of our resiliency. The images of the feminine were showing me that I was not alone. That all I needed to do was lean into them. To listen for the wisdom that would arise as I created. To use the face of my Muses – the images of the feminine archetypes – to give me the strength I needed to do what I knew needed to be done.
And so, I began…
I took one of Shiloh’s classes circa 2010 and fell in love! Intentional Creativity, as taught to me through that class, was the salve I needed to heal my wounds. I was smitten! Although I had never painted at the canvas before and really wasn’t even good drawing stick figures with a pencil, it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t produce the beautiful images that Shiloh and the other artists in the class were making. All that mattered to me was the MEDICINE that I was receiving in making that medicine painting. And I wanted more of it – I needed more of it!
About 9 months later, I returned to California for Shiloh’s Great Work class. It was through this class that I knew I wanted to be able to share medicine painting in the form of Intentional Creativity with other women. The growth, expansion, and healing that I received through this course was the catapult for me deep into the world of Intentional Creativity and painting as a tool to heal Self. And so, I enrolled in her teacher training course, Color of Woman. It was circa 2013 – I can’t remember if the class started in 2013, but that is the year I graduated and became a Certified Intentional Creativity Teacher and Coach. Nine intensive months of training, creating a body of work, healing Self, and learning what my piece/peace of the Red Thread was – what I was called and created to share in this world – put me right where I wanted to be.
A section of one Sumaiyah’s Color of Woman paintings
Through my 2013 Color of Woman training, I learned so much about my Self. I healed many many many wounds. And I learned what my Path is: to bring this healing medicine to other victims and survivors of intimate partner abuse. When I graduated, I had no following, no clue where to begin to gather the women who may want this medicine, and no idea how to put Intentional Creativity into a format that would be appealing to those living through domestic violence. None of the women in my then current circle were artists. No one had ever stepped to the easel to paint, and frankly no one was very willing to do so. They were too stuck on the end product – the painting – and no focusing on what truly mattered: the process.
Eventually, I began to get people involved. Once touched by the healing found through Intentional Creativity, they began clamoring for more and more offerings. So, I created more and more offerings so that they could partake in the healing process. But there was one problem: I was creating great content, but I wasn’t honing in on my true calling of helping domestic violence victims and survivors. I was catering to their need for Intentional Creativity classes without catering to my own needs, to my calling. Once again, I had managed to put what was important to me on the backburner in order to be the person that others needed me to be.
In 2020, I took Musea’s VIVID : MYSTIC course – a course where you paint your Legend. This painting of your legendary self re-ignited the flame within my heART to be of service to victims and survivors. It opened my eyes once again to my true calling and set in motion the burning desire to cause and create a sacred space and a sacred self-care practice for those who have been through this horrible situation. It also created a desire within my Self to re-take Color of Woman for a two-fold reason: 1) to learn any new information, teaching strategies, or Divine Downloads on Intentional Creativity that may have arisen since my 2013 course, and 2) because I know that Color of Woman will help me to put into form what I have been called to do.
Sumaiyah’s LEGEND painting – The Flower Bearing the Sweet Nectar of Her Soul
And I also know that it will help me to heal the wounds caused by my most recent ex-husband, who was emotionally and mentally abusive…
Each time I started Color of Woman, my life turned upside down. Chaos, confusion, distractions – any and all manner of ick seems to come my way and attempt to thwart my work in healing my Self and expanding into the person whom the Divine created me to be. The first time around, I stuck with it and pushed through. But, I was simply a robot going through the motions. Learning the “tech” aspects of Intentional Creativity and how to teach it, but never fully embracing it for my Self. I was too caught up in the stuff that life was throwing at me and too busy being everything for everybody else but my Self. This time is no different. Chaos ensued as soon as Color of Woman 2022 began. Now, I’m faced with an impromptu move, unplanned but very necessary for the health and safety of both my Self and my children. Moving during a 9-month intensive class is the last thing I want to do, but it is the very thing that is necessary to put me in a place where the healing can thrive and so can I.
I am staying focused on the goal of being fully present to what Color of Woman has to offer me – both in terms of my own personal healing and in terms of my growth into a better teacher who is fully focused on her mission to bring Intentional Creativity to victims and survivors of domestic violence. I have even found the vehicle to carry it to my Beloveds that will not deter them from stepping into their creativity. A form of painting that anyone can do and end up with a glorious end product. I want to remove any barriers that anyone who wants this medicine may have and allow them to fully embrace the process.
And I am sharing my story in hopes that it will inspire someone else to be strong enough to take the steps she needs to heal from the tragedy of intimate partner abuse. It is not an easy road – no road to healing is – but it is one that I am willing to walk with you. I am no therapist or medical professional and will never give you medical advice. I am, however, a woman who has witnessed firsthand the healing power of art. Art heals. Period. It’s been scientifically proven. And it has been personally prove by me through the healing, growth, and expansion I have personally experienced using art as a tool in my medicine basket.
I am here for me. To heal. To grow. To expand. To walk my Path and fully realize my calling. I am also here for you. To walk with you. To give you the tools of Intentional Creativity for your medicine basket. To witness your healing, growth, and expansion… Let us journey together through Intentional Creativity until we each realize healing and what it is to be healed enough. That’s our goal: healed enough. We may never be fully healed. But we can be healed enough to have the best life we possibly can give to ourselves.
My vow to you:
I am connected to you, as you are connected to me.
I am called to this circle, as you are called to this circle.
I am responsible for my own unique piece/peace of Red Thread, as you are responsible for your own unique piece.
I witness you, as you witness me.
And may Love be at the center of all of our choices…
Sumaiyah embracing her wholeness!
I am a Certified Intentional Creativity Teacher and Coach, as well as a Musea Co-Curator. I love to paint and art journal intuitively, letting my intention set the stage for what manifests on the canvas and/or page. I am also a published author. So yeah — words, images, and symbols are powerful tools in my medicine basket, and I have been using these tools for self-discovery for many years.
In addition, I am a Certified Reiki Master and certifiably crystal crazy. I love healing crystals and have them all over my home and Studio. They are also used in my reiki practice. As I strive toward my Highest Self, I choose to share my journey and my tools with those seeking to do the same.
To connect with Sumaiyah and her offerings you can visit her website Diva Empowerment Studios!
To connect with Sumaiyah writing you can visit Wysdom Writes – her personal blog!
Sumaiyah’s completed Colorful Scars painting process,
supporting the healing of our stories of trauma
Sumaiyah’s Dancing Between Worlds painting process
Today I find myself reading your story Sumaiyah and relating so much to your words. Then there you are on the call today. So lovely to witness your journey and hear how you are living and sharing the sweet nectar of your soul.
Sumaiyah your paintings and writing are a blessing to me today. I’m healing from an old wound of confusion, “those who were meant to protect me did so much harm instead.” And that I fawn over them. There is so much confusion in me. IC is an amazing healing method and circle. I know my pattern will shift deeply and some awesome gift will be inside. It never fails. God bless you in all your work bringing this to others.
Thank you Sumaiya for your courage and bravery to be witnessed. You are a role model to all whom share similar stories. Yes, healed enough, to shine your light, strength and beauty
Thank you for sharing, being vulnerable in a way that will potentially inspire others to take the steps needed for themselves and their safely – survival and healing.
I am grateful for you writing and sharing your story, Sumaiyah, it has given me the courage and impetus to complete and put words to my story which has been waiting 20 years for my voice. Though I paint the thriving of survivors through my Fierce, Fabulous & Feminine women I do not thrive…inwardly. There still is a place within that must be touched and I haven’t gone there….yet. I have many classes to complete that would take me there but I’ve not completed any of them….yet. I don’t know how I found your story but I am glad I did. Thank you.
Truly potent story. I am so grateful to see this here. And see you.
Poignant, Beautiful, and Powerful. Thank you for sharing your story!
Thank you for sharing this Sumaiyah! You are a survivor and thriver. Love to you!