Whenever I sense my life spinning out of control I feel the healing pull of the written word. Having an outlet to organize and compartmentalize my thoughts, an avenue to put a tangible voice to the fantastic flurry of emotions swirling inside of me and a means to release my sorrows/fears/anxieties has always proven invaluably helpful.
It was just a few weeks ago that I posted a blog entry reveling in the joy and delight I was experiencing being able to be in a place where I felt all the travails of the past 18 months were finally behind me. I was *finally* in a place, emotionally & physically & mentally where I could catch my breath. The children and I had weathered a challenging divorce and a very sad move out of our home of the past ten years. I had dealt with all of that in addition to a severe dog attack that left me with a massive ankle injury that would require complete reconstructive ankle surgery resulting in me being on crutches for nearly 2 months TWICE in the same year. First time after the attack and the second time after the surgery. Not to mention spending much of the past year in constant pain and incessant physical therapy to regain my range of motion. I'm still dealing with the effects of that surgery 10 weeks ago. But I was able to happily reflect on all that we had muddled through. I was able to look around at the warm, cozy home I had built out of our itty bitty rental cottage. I was able to proudly look at the oasis of a backyard that I (and many contributing friends) had created in the backyard of our cottage. I was able to revel in the gloriousness of our wonderful neighborhood and our incredible neighbors.
After two years of being in the trenches of pain, despair, distress and upheaval...we were finally on the mend. We were healing. We were settled in. We were finding our groove. Life was beautiful once again. Not perfect by any means. Not easy, by any stretch of the imagination. But it was beautiful. Because it was ours. We had constructed it out of nothing. We had been rolling with the punches for two years straight and the storm had now settled and we had picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off. And I was so proud of us. And I was so grateful for the end of that awfully long, treacherous storm. I was appreciative that my kids and I could now stop living in a constant state of crisis mode and instead focus on growing our roots in our new home. A home we loved and cherished. I was finally sleeping again at night, after two years of incessant insomnia.
Then, the other shoe dropped. My landlord announced he was moving back into our cottage and gave me notice. As he was telling me this, I was as composed as I could be on the outside but on the inside I was envisioning myself being knocked to the ground and then kicked in the stomach, just for good measure. The internal sensation was asbolutely visceral. Once he left I went into my bathroom where I promptly threw up, curled into a ball on the floor and cried myself into such an oblivion that I needed a friend to talk me down on the phone so that I could be calm enough to address my poor kids who had heard the landlord and were in a tizzy of their own. Turns out my emotional spiral was nothing compared to theirs. My children completely self imploded. And you parents out there will understand how agonizing it is to watch your children fall apart over a very legitimate cause and that feeling of utter helplessness when you know you can't fix it for them. When you can't change the outcome. Something akin to having their beloved pet die or their best friend move away. It's a horrible, gut wrenching feeling. To have them finally feel stable and secure after two years of tumultuous change and upheaval... and then to have the rug pulled out from under them. It pretty much sucks.
I spent the next 3 days in a state of utter despair and depression. Crying constantly. And not the pretty, quiet, delicate kind of crying you see in movies where a silent, glorious teardrop glides down someone's rosy cheek as their perfectly pouty lip softly quivers. No. I apparently lack that kind of grace. Mine involved heavy sobbing and lots of snot. Fueling my distress was the fact that I have exposed my children to my emotional breakdowns multiple times over the past two years. I realize that it is important for kids to understand and realize that their parents are human, and fallible, and vulnerable. I acknowledge this. However, it frustrates me that I couldn't keep it together this particular time when they were dealing with their own fears, concerns, anxieties and unknowns. At a time when they needed, more than ever, that sense of security, that belief that everything was going to be ok. And all I seemed capable of doing was crying like a blubbering fool. I'm not proud of my lack of strength and decorum. It shames me whenever I think about it. They've always seen me as their rock and yet they've witnessed this rock crumble and reassemble the past two years too many times to keep track of. They saw a fragility in me that I had hoped they would never bear witness to. I'm sure it humanizes me in their eyes but it's completely counter productive when you want your kids to see you as a superwoman who can leap tall buildings so that they don't ever have to worry about the pressures and strains that you carry within you every day. I didn't want to expose them to the realities of our dire situation. Your child should never have to crawl into your bed, wipe the tears from your eyes and encourage you to get out of bed when all you want to do is pull the covers over your head and pretend like none of this is actually happening.
I realize that in most towns being kicked out of a rental home is probably no big deal. But the rental housing market here is deplorably bad. The rental rates are ridiculously exhorbitant (well beyond the realistic scope of my budget) and absolutely no one will allow you to keep a 100 lb dog. That combination has resulted in a constant stream of panic induced thoughts, fears and anxieties that I have struggled to keep at bay.
In the throes of all this turmoil I have forced myself to take the time to sit quietly every night at my kitchen table with a cup of tea and just process. Some call it praying. Some call it meditating. I call it processing. I'm trying to ground my thoughts. I am trying to calm my mind which automatically leaps to the endless stream of worst case scenarios all throughout the day as my search for affordable housing comes up fruitless time and time again. I am centering myself. I am asking God & the Universe and all the positive goodness/karma in the world to assist me in my goal. I am trying to convince myself that it will all be ok. Some nights I am able to actually believe that it will and the nightmares stay away. Other nights I am not so successful. But every night I try. I pray. I think. I process. I work through my anxieties. I give them a name. I conjure up gameplans which I then implement the next day. I hope. With great intensity.
And then right before I crawl into my bed I check on my sleeping babes, sharing their tiny little room, and I see their angelic little faces and I know that my ONLY job, my ONLY true and valid purpose on this planet, is to take care of them and provide for them. Whatever it takes. No matter what setbacks are thrown at me.
So, things may be changing around here. I may or may not be able to continue my photography. I may have to raise my rates. I may have to restructure my packages. I may have to take on a second job which will slow down my turnaround. I don't know yet. Right now I am, first and foremost, seeking a home for us. To start over, yet again, to try to grow roots in, once more.
I marvel at how this has ripped me wide open. How the divorce wound I thought I had healed is just as raw as it was two years ago. How all my fears and anxieties have come rushing back in with a ferociousness I had never expected possible. That the journey I thought I had completed is still well underway. The road blocks are still undeniably present. The momentary field with unicorns prancing and butterflies twirling about was a temporary lull just as anyone who has gone through anything traumatic in their life can attest to. I certainly wasn't ready for a major setback this soon. I was ill prepared and caught off guard. But I am well aware that it could be far worse. Having a safe roof over our heads is critical, yes, and monumentally important, no doubt. But we have our health, which I have never taken for granted. My children are phsyically healthy. For perspective, I have a friend whose tiny little boy just had a liver transplant and is fighting for his life. I have far too many friends whose young children have been fighting horrible cancers for years. I have another friend whose friend's daughter just died suddenly while on a family vacation. These massive jolts of perspective keep me grounded in reality. Yes, we have been through a tremendous amount of pain and suffering the past two years. Yes, I am plum worn out. Yes, it has royally sucked. BUT I AM GRATEFUL. I have the support and encouragement of the most incredible and downright amazing group of friends on the planet. Hands down. These people are saints through and through. Incomparable in their generosity and love. My kids have been blessed with scholarships for two years to be able to stay at their beloved school, something which has meant the WORLD to them. My children know they are loved. My children are healthy and their basic needs are all being met. I have incredible clients who sustain my business, and thus my ability to provide for my kids, by hiring me year after year. I AM SO INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL.
So, please, bear with me as I may implement changes or have to slow down my turnaround a bit if I'm taking on secondary work or dealing with another move etc... I promise, as always, to give you ALL of me at our shoot, like I always do. Every ounce of my being goes into my shoots and it always will. That will not ever change. In fact, everything I've been through has made me more sensitive and attuned. I feel like I notice things I never noticed before. I sense things more deeply and more passionately than ever before. My internal clarity has become such a stronger voice now that the clutter of "stuff" and silly first-world-problems has been removed. The rawness in me has created a clearer vision for seeking out authenticity. In my life and in my imagery. Somehow in all this, I feel I've become a better photographer and most certainly a more connected human being.
And, last but not least, here's hoping we find a place to live very soon! xoxo
Here's a couple very recent iphone shots of my greatest loves, since every photography blog post needs pictures. :)