“We are Safe in the Arms of the Universe”

Bridgit Gallagher


“We are Safe in the Arms of the Universe” is a digital mixed media piece I created in response to my experiences with mental illness. Mediums for this piece include illustration, digital illustration, and collage. This piece serves as a reminder that I am safe even when I am crashing in the waves of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and survived trauma and gaslighting; a reminder that the storm will pass.  In order for readers to better understand this storm, I present to you, the waves:  

CW/TW: mental illness, self harm

It begins small.

Sand spilling—sinking—spreading.

Hidden in the cracks.

A slow formation.

Almost not there (not there) (not there)

Echoes-- echoes


I feel—something. Something, building.

A small…quiet danger.

I must search!

I must remember! (what’s happening)

I must prepare... (or maybe it already happened)

Long walls have me trapped.  I am grasping in the dark for something that is no longer here (that’s right…it did happen)… but I find the shadows…

Shadows that come to me in my dreams, hidden in the waves of quiet danger: a danger—a haunting presence—always close—silent screaming—out of control—all consuming—fear.



Is this real? (was it my fault or was it his?)

Is this happening (who am I to know?)

If only…instead…next time…you should have…maybe try…consider this…


It WAS his fault--It WAS HIS behavior--It WAS HIS CHOICE

Over and OVER again it WAS HIS CHOICE!

So why did they blame me? How DARE they BLAME me! theyblamedmetheyblamedmetheyblamedmetheyblamedme.

How did EVERYONE ALLOW THIS to CONTINUE OVER and OVER and OVER AGAIN why did NO one stop him why did NO one protect me (maybe you didn’t deserve protection) why did NO ONE CARE Noonecarednoonecarednoonecarednoonecared


My blood pumps heartache but suddenly I have rage in my eyes. My muscles harden and my fists tighten: I am stone.

I want to hurt.

Him. Everyone (maybe you should just hurt yourself)

I taste blood in my mouth. I am gnawing at broken bones. Anger boils in the blood of my wounds.

He and I are connected—at last (you’re just like him)

But the feeling is too much. I am scared by my own rage. Maybe I’m just like him (you’re a monster) Maybe I’m destined to hurt everyone around me (I am just like him) Can everyone see how broken I am (I am a monster) His fury is a mask I cannot take off. I look in the mirror and I see—him.

(after all, he is your father)


Righteous anger drips off me and I am left feeling raw and open, like a sore that never healed. I don’t want to feel what’s beneath this surface. At least with anger I have control.  I have power. I can break you and myself if necessary. Beneath this icy surface are eternal waves of grief that I cannot bear to feel (what if it breaks me?)

But these waves have already cracked me open. My soul has washed up to shore.

What if pieces of me scatter, never to return? What if I’m insane? What if the pain is too much? (maybe you should hurt yourself)










(you should kill yourself)

                                               This pain….         is,         a never-ending….         wave

And I remember—

I am on the wave.



In the stillness, I find myself again.

I have returned (from where?)

Only to ask myself  

(am I crazy)