Yesterday was one of those days in this after life that was both incredible and heartbreaking all at once. Earlier this year, I started going to the gym and took up Crossfit to try and get into shape. I hadn't done anything for over a year since he died and was really out of shape. Not to mention I've never really been athletic my entire adult life.
So yesterday was big because I went to my first Crossfit competition. And it was cold. And rainy. And I had a cold. And I somehow still didn't back down and I did all three of my workouts to compete. I was on a high all day... The very fact that I was even there was amazing. The fact that just a year ago I'd never have imagined I'd be doing something like this was so fulfilling.
I didn't win anything, I did probably somewhere around mediocre compared to all the other women. But that didn't matter. I showed up. And I worked harder than I ever have. And I beat my own practice times by a lot. And I did it with a layer of grief underneath it all.
I’m completely devastated this week. There was a horrible mixup while I was out of town last week and I discovered that a dress was accidentally thrown out. Not just a dress - but THE dress which I have been wearing in every weekly self portrait I have taken for the past 7 months (shown above). It was the main prop in this year-long series about living with loss. The irony here is not lost on me. I have just lost my most important prop in a project about losing my most important person. Gone without warning. Without my having any say in the matter. Just like my fiancé and our life together. It is all too familiar a story.
What. The. Hell.
Now the entire project must change. I cannot replace the dress - it was vintage and would be impossible to find again. I'll have to instead continue the project in a new direction. The way I've had to continue my life in a new direction. I really HATE how precisely this event mirrors losing him. It has triggered me in all sorts of ways about his death and about my having to live on.Read more
I was talking to a widowed friend the other night about the whole idea of sharing this part of our life and how it changes over time. I remember well the first year after my fiance died. The first thing out of my mouth was this information. I told everyone and anyone. Friends, family, coworkers, customers, the mail man, police officers, the tech support guy, random strangers... No one was safe. I spewed my raw pain out all over the world like a continually erupting volcano.
My friend did the same. We talked about how at first, it is the only thing we wanted to talk about. It is the only thing that mattered. And for a while, it really did swallow up our identity. And we talked about how we felt like we lost the whole rest of our identity for a time to the label "widow". Which left us both feeling conflicted - simultaneously wanting to be completely defined by our love for this person, and resentful that people now only saw us as a widow.Read more
I was at an estate sale yesterday and I found this little wooden bookmark hiding away in a corner that really intrigued me. I picked it up and read on the back something about The Star of Seven Day. Further intrigued, I purchased it and brought it home to research. It turns out it is a scene depicting the story of the Tanabata Festival. And this is where it got cool. This is the annual star festival in Japan that is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month each year. It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar.Read more
As an artist, I believe that every piece I create is coming through me from some other source and meant for one person out there. I've come to believe this because of it happening to me with many of my photographs and written pieces. Someone will come forward to share how important my image was to them, and how perfectly it aligned with something in their world, and I will know instantly that it found its home.
Nothing made me more certain of this idea than finding this painting last weekend. My girlfriend and I went to a local art festival, and as we walked into this woman's booth, my friend gasped and called my attention. As I looked up, I was speechless. There on the walls of her booth hung an almost exact painting of MY photo of my fiancé and I. And I knew instantly - I was the person she made that for, even though she did not know me at all.
Of course I bought it. And as I was paying her, I looked up the photo on my phone. I told her the story of my fiancé passing and then showed her the image - and she was as blown away as I was. We both teared up a little. I've had it resting on my writing desk since I came home… and it lights me up inside to look at. Not only because of the photo it represents, but also of the story this photo reminds me of...
I have to thank everyone for all the incredible responses to my post last week. You warmed my heart and really helped me to feel a bit more okay with all of this mess - and a bit less alone. Trying to welcome a new life is SO not easy, but its a heck of a lot easier with friends like all of you. You encourage me to be honest with where I am at on this journey, thank you for that. I thought today that I would share one of the self portraits from my photographic series I have been working on this year - and the story behind it - as it has become a big part of my own healing as of late. Both creating these images and writing about them has helped me to see myself and my pain in new ways… so I hope maybe this one will do that for someone else out there too….
"I just want to crawl out of my own skin" is something I said often in the first weeks and months after he died. For the whole first year really. Every cell of my body - every hair, every pore, every organ, was reverberating a constant and loud message of denial. Every cell of me, bumping up against the truth at every turn, abrasively, painfully. And then violently pushing and pushing, trying to thrust the truth out of my world. No, no, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO NO, NO!!!… vibrating loudly within every inch of me, trying to fight off a reality too painful, too unbelievable to comprehend. This single aspect of his death has been by far the most agonizing of all.Read more
"It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
And I'm feeling good"
Don't we ALL wish it was that simple??
Since coming home from my trip to Hawaii a few weeks ago, things have been rough. I wrote a post here trying to glean some of the positives from everything as of late - but really what I think I need to talk about is how freaking scary even the good new things can be. I went on that trip just to go visit a friend and see a new place… I never imagined that the girl I was when I left would not be the same girl I was when I returned. But that is what has happened. Since coming home, it is as if I landed back in my reality and realized in a very real way that I am a different person. And part of me is SO NOT okay with that.
Do not be fooled
by the lightness you see in me -
The cool easy smile
across my face.
Two years year ago this week, I had no concept of time.
Nor of my life any longer as I knew it.
Two years ago today, I was making funeral arrangements
For the man I had planned to grow old with.
And going from pain to disbelief and back to pain every 10 minutes
Like an endless loopRead more
I've had a roller coaster of a weekend. Yesterday was my fiancé and I's anniversary of when we began dating, and in just a few more days comes the two year mark of his death. I spent the past two weeks in Hawaii visiting a friend, which was incredible and a welcome distraction. Then, on Wednesday, I flew directly to Portland for a conference. Needless to say - not only is this an emotion filled month anyway, but I am absolutely depleted from being gone from home for almost three weeks. By the end of yesterday, my emotions were erupting. It's quite a miracle I haven't gone into a full-blown melt down (yet!).
The worst of it was, I'd had two full weeks of feeling pretty great. And coming down from that - as you ALL know - is the worst. But I'm trying to look for some positives in it all - because despite how tired and run-down I am right now, I had some important shifts while on this trip.