It is Monday in the woods and the day began in no special way. Slow to wake. Coffee and morning pages. Walk to the mailbox. Then, while procrastinating, I read a story in the latest issue of Elle magazine, about a woman so incredibly deceived by her husband, that she made the difficult decision to divorce him and give their unborn child up for adoption. Tears welled in my eyes, surprisingly, with compassion... and something similar to guilt. Perspective. Here I've been, unwilling to come to terms with my "broken heart" for some time now. Caught in a cycle of grief, healing, acceptance and denial. Convinced that what was "meant to be" had indeed gone awry somewhere along the way. Fighting tooth and nail, the reality that has formed in my lap. All the while, making art and life and new memories in all the moments in-between the ones where I've felt incredibly alone, sad, rejected, and hopeless. Perspective is a valuable thing and it can't be forced, or even wrapped up and given. But indeed I felt reminded that not getting what you thought you wanted, is an emotion that unites us all.
Then, on facebook, a quote we've all read in some form or another, "Just like a shoe. If someone is meant for you, they will fit perfectly. No struggling. No forcing. No pain."
(In facebook, as in life, you zero in on the posts that meet you where you are, and breeze over the rest. We're all the same in that way.)
The procrastination continues as I click to a friend's link to a video from Deepak Chopra on Self-Love.
Then, another friend links to this story on female friendship. I read it with an open mind. Not needing it to transform my life. But I think it did.
I recall crying to my mother in her kitchen last night. About the same thing. The same man. The same unresolved feelings. She said, "I wish I could fix your head and your heart to match."I recall the female friendships I've had over the years. To borrow words from the above article and make them my own:
While I've struggled to come to terms with a loss so mild compared to the losses of others but equally real, my friends have done the following: traveled across states and continents to visit me, called or emailed or been in touch every day, cried with me into sidecars and sodas and pizzas, written me letters, taken me dancing, gotten me horribly drunk, fed me, hugged me, held me, sent me uplifting articles to read, made time, baked, cooked, knitted, cried, shouted, opened their homes to me for the night, the week, the summer, reminded me that I was loved, flew across the world with me to avoid memory lane and go to tourist nightclubs and act like teenagers. Every time I've thought maybe I can't survive this, when I've felt like Silvia Plath, that this loss will kill my spirit and my joy, I’ll get a letter or a text or an email or a feeling and it will buoy me in a way that enables me to take another step forward, to be a normal young woman who simply had a break-up, and for a while, a heart so miserably disappointed it resembled nothing like it started.
I've been impulsive, emotional, slow to heal and frustratingly sensitive many times throughout my life. I've apologized to my friends and family and felt guilty for not "getting over it" faster. But years ago I started to accept that my sensitivity to emotional matters, and my deeply reflective nature is what led me to my career as an artist. My gift to the world is my willingness to fully and wholeheartedly experience this life and reflect and express and translate and symbolize the nuances of relationships, emotions and the unspoken human-ness that unite us all.
Knowing I am never alone in my experiences is the reason I share so much. I go out on a limb over and over again here on my blog, in my work, in my gallery, with reporters writing stories, with friends over a meal and a bottle of wine, because every time I balance and step one foot in front of another, heal to toe, arms outstretched, to the end of the branch... there is always someone there.
Perhaps this is what makes my tree paintings so meaningful to so many people. A trunk full of limbs we've all ventured out onto.
If gratitude is the light that shines a way out of self-centered pain, it came to me today, like a blazing sunrise. I am thankful for my friendships over the years, some have gone, some have remained, and all transcend time and the things that have "happened to us."
It is darkest before the dawn.