On June 18, 2001, a bronze sculpture created by Zenos Frudakis was dedicated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 7,000-pound work fills a twenty-foot length of 16th and Vine street and has given hope and inspiration to millions.
The sculpture is titled “Freedom”, but it is most commonly called “The Freedom Sculpture” as it shows four stages of a single person emerging from the wall to freedom.
It is the four stages of my healing story formed from bronze and giving hope to the thousands that see it.
Breaking Down The Freedom Sculpture
Zenos Frudakis has been quoted saying, “Although for me, this feeling sprang from a particular personal situation, I was conscious that it was a universal desire with almost everyone; that need to escape from some situation—be it an internal struggle or an adversarial circumstance, and to be free from it.”
Although Frudakis does not his “personal situation” which inspired this sculpture, it is clear that it took him time to escape its influence over his life.
Going from left to right, the first figure in the sculpture is trapped in mind and body inside an unforgiving, unmoving situation.
The second figure seems to have awakened to the fact they are trapped, the first stage in anyone’s healing from any hardship.
The third figure has discovered it can indeed escape its prison and is struggling to get free.
Finally, the fourth figure has sprung from their dark prison and is relishing in his newfound freedom.
The genius of Frudakis isn’t only in the figures emerging to freedom, but that in the final figure’s space it has escaped from visitors are invited to “stand here” so they can better relate to finding their own way to healing.
What Does the Freedom Sculpture Mean to Me?
I found the freedom sculpture while doing a google search for something entirely different and immediately fell in love. I could see myself in my long healing journey and the stages I’ve discovered for breaking free from the grasp dissociative identity disorder has had on my life.
The sculpture distinctly outlines the four healing stages from which I have emerged through dedication and arduous work in therapy. Allow me to briefly outline each stage and how the sculptured figures align with them.
Stage One: Discovery.
In the first figure stuck in the wall, I could see myself mired down in the muck of dissociative identity disorder. Although I had lived with DID all my life, I had always had excuses for the quirky things that have happened. I lost time and did or said things I couldn’t remember? I must have a really bad memory, or they were lying to me. I’d wake up in strange places and hear others talking in my head? Well, I thought, everyone must do that.
When I began to spontaneously have memories of my childhood intrude into my present in the form of flashbacks, I knew I was crazy, that was what was wrong.
It wasn’t until I sought out help for depression that I discovered from an extremely cautious therapist that the reasoning for all the discrepancies was dissociative identity disorder.
Actually, I was relieved that what I was experiencing had a name and that I was not nuts. It was a treatable illness that I could conquer, however, I had no idea how intense that treatment would be or how long it would take.
Stage Two: Chaos
At the beginning of working on the issues that caused my alters to form, I went through a period of extreme chaos. This reminds me of the second figure in the sculpture. In fact, The Pandemonium of entering therapy to heal was in many ways far more traumatic than the original abuse I had survived.
My personality is so fragmented that I lost large amounts of time. To be clear, I had always lost time, but I was far more aware of that loss now that I was beginning my healing journey. I had a sharp increase in the number of fugue states too and eventually woke up married to someone I didn’t love.
It was during the chaos stage that I nearly died by suicide having taken a large number of pills while dissociated.
Three: Cooperation and Co-Consciousness.
The third figure of the sculpture is like when, after I had stabilized somewhat, I reached a part of my healing where all my alters became aware of each other and I of them. I began holding meetings on the beach, a quiet place in my mind, so we could have discussions to help build trust and cooperation.
It was after several years of meetings that I became aware that not only were all of us cooperating together, but we had begun to be co-aware and co-conscious most of the time.
That doesn’t mean there were not times when I was not aware of a switch, it did mean, however, that a majority of the time I was present too.
We began to actively seek healing like never before and believed that I could get free of my past. I was reaching out to my future.
Four: Fusion (Integration).
The fourth figure in the sculpture reminds me of integration or a better name would be fusion. I know integration is a touchy subject among members of the DID community, but it isn’t what so-called experts have deemed it to be. It is NOT all the alters blending seamlessly into one cohesive personality. It is NOT alters dying to become a whole human being.
Alters are parts of the same personality, this is true, but we missed the developmental milestone where we can become a cohesive whole.
However, integration involves fusing together and accepting all the responsibility for our actions and owning our emotions.
I am in this stage and finding it extremely difficult.
I have become aware and claim that any action, no matter was done in which alter, is mine and I am completely responsible for them. For so long, I would blame things that happened to me or others from me as “Bianca’s fault”, or “Butch’s fault” when they are me and I am them.
Also, owning the emotions that I have for so long pushed away has proven very painful. I do not want to feel the emotions I’ve stuffed away from myself (the waking self) to survive. It now is vital that I feel, acknowledge, and let them go if I am to keep myself from succumbing to them as I have in the past.
The wonderful thing about the fusion stage is I can now run free in the world knowing I have won over my past and that my abusers have lost the battle for my mind.
My Healing is On Display in Philadelphia
I knew from the first moment I saw a picture of the freedom sculpture that it was my healing journey in bronze. I can only assume that after reading this piece, you will also attach to and claim the message it projects for your own.
The Freedom sculpture’s creator had this to say about his masterpiece,
“I wanted to create a sculpture almost anyone, regardless of their background, could look at and instantly recognize that it is about the idea of struggling to break free. This sculpture is about the struggle for the achievement of freedom through the creative process.” ~ Zenos Frudakis
Sir, I believe you have indeed your goal.
“Freedom cannot be bestowed — it must be achieved.” ~ Elbert Hubbard