I’ve been up a couple hours now. It seems the usual routine rising between 5 and 6 am the past month or so. Typically writing is one of the first things I think of when I wake, though today it hadn’t dawned on me until just now. I don’t know what that fact indicates, if anything.
I am finding Wholeness. I am finding calm and contentedness. I am finding peace and love. I feel as though I am finding myself.
I’ve experienced depression for many, many years. Some of it may be due to some chemical or hormonal imbalance – it does seem to run in my family. Some of it may be more situational. However, regardless of the cause, I often find myself lost, alone, listless, unable to connect with any sort of outside world, including my friends and family. I find that I often go through the motions of life playing out any obligations I have and then come home just to dwell in that sadness and despair that falls upon me.
I hit one of my really low points a couple weeks ago. It’s been coming, I knew it was – it always does. I wrote a week or so ago that I’ve abandoned this site already. I found myself writing on the not so great things that were going on that I would be far too ashamed to post here. I mentioned the need I felt to always appear positive here and that I feel that I can’t share some of those darker things. I’m not sure if that’s good or not, if that’s okay or not. I’m not sure that it necessarily matters either way.
My friend, Nancy, told me a few months ago, “You know, you should paint.” I’m not sure where the idea came from, I’m not sure I even know the intention behind her telling me that I should. Perhaps it was just a suggestion telling me, “Hey, go express yourself. Go be creative.” Perhaps she saw some part of me that I hadn’t that has been trying to claw its way out.
This could be part of where some of the depression comes from: my lack of expression, my lack of creativity, my lack of being me. It’s probably been close to 20 years since I’ve done anything creative, other than journaling and writing poetry several years back – though that was likely more destructive than not.
I studied art for six years, officially. In middle school and high school I was in a rigorous arts program where we ate, breathed and slept art. My area of focus was always photography and viola performance, but we had our other arts classes that we had to focus on too: sculpture, computer graphics, painting, drawing, etc. I was in orchestra, but I also had private lessons, was a part of a duet, a part of a quartet, music theory. In high school I was a big part of the arts scene in Dayton, where I’m from. I sold art in galleries, I was active with DVAC (Dayton Visual Arts Center), I performed in performance art pieces. At the age of 12 I was in the Dayton Opera’s production of Candide. I was a member of the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for several years. I held a part time gig for most of high school working as a photographer at Photography by JCPenney, getting studio experience. Art was my life. Art was my everything.
After high school I was accepted into the Art Institute of Pittsburgh but decided to follow my music interests instead. I briefly attended college dual majoring in Music Performance and Music Education and with the intention of following with my master’s degree in Music Therapy. The fact is, I blew it. I had a free ride – a full scholarship. And, the fact even worse than me blowing it, I was given a second chance because they believed in me and wanted me. I blew it again.
I wasn’t ready, I guess. I decided to be irresponsible. I decided to blow off higher education – who needs it, right? I wanted to be carefree, not worry about anything. I wanted absolutely noresponsibility.
At some point in my naive young life, I decided to walk away. I walked away from every single thing that was a part of me that I loved so absolutely much. All I knew was art. All I knew was expression. All I knew was my ability to be me in moments I was drowning from depression or anything else I had going on. All I knew was that if I couldn’t find my way, if I was sinking, I could lose myself in my art or music. It was my meditation and escape. It was my friend. And I turned my back and walked away.
Nine years passed after I walked away before I took my first photograph. It’s probably been twenty years now since I’ve painted, seventeen years or so since I’ve drawn anything. I started viola private lessons again a couple years ago but I had to drop the lessons due to a hand injury (from falling, again). I’ve had nowhere to look to find me. I’ve been hiding deep down inside me with that part of me trying to claw itself out.
Somewhere between being a single mom and needing to somehow figure out how to keep food on the table and being a corporate drone in the medical field I’ve lost myself. Only after I turned my back on nursing school 4 months from graduating, an education in architectural drafting, an education in business administration, an education in anthropology and most recently an education in political science. I think there is more than enough evidence to show that I’ve been looking for me – but I’ve not looked in any of the right places. None of that was me.
I don’t know what my calling is, I don’t know that I even have one. One of the other congregants at my Center told me a few weeks ago, after reading My Lymphoma Story, that it’s obvious I am here for some reason. I almost cried (I have trouble crying, but it’s something I’m trying to embrace). Somehow I lost any potential purpose I might possibly have along with losing myself. Perhaps I do have purpose. Perhaps I am supposed to be here for some reason, even if I can’t see it.
The other night I painted for the first time since “back then”. I cannot describe the feeling. I cannot come close to finding the words of describing how I felt, of how quickly I caught a glimpse of me. I am in there somewhere. I can express myself. I can enjoy the things I love doing. I can now return to the life that I loved – creating. I want to focus on my photography business. I want to create art. I want to learn to find myself again in that meditative practice. I want to be me again – I miss me.