There are a total of seven different tabs open, each containing a draft of an attempted blog post abandoned part way through. It has been a week of absolute hell and if we are being honest, which we are, it took me about five good minutes to even sit myself up so I could start typing this. I think this and my mental state because of it have a lot to do with my complete lack of creativity and after spending the majority of my day in tears or staring miserably into space as one does when drugged out of their mind, it dawned on me that I don’t even have to be creative. I can just be honest, transparent about my experience, my feelings and the creativity will happen because I am an artist. The creativity is who I am.
Today I saw a caption on an Instagram photo that went like this: “I’m not going back to bed until I find a way to tire myself out. It seems that everything tires me out except trying to get some rest.” I have no idea if these are just someone’s words or if it belongs to some song or movie but that really isn’t the point. These words stuck out to me because I could relate and honestly, in the midst of my creative rut the pages of my journals are chock-full of disorganized and scribbled song lyrics, pieces of poetry, social media captions, and lines from films and books alike. As if in my loss for words these could somehow make up for the silence. Silence. I just spent an hour listening to a slam poet speak the same words over and over again until I felt that I truly understood what they meant. That, “..tragedy and silence have the exact same address..” and maybe that is the reason that I couldn’t speak, still can’t speak about the abuse I receive from my own family member or why I couldn’t even admit until this year that my own relative sexually assaulted me when I was a just a child or that in a few months it will be a year since I was raped and my mom still thinks that it happened to my friend because I was too ashamed to tell her the truth. Perhaps this is the reason that I shut down, have to go looking for my voice or claw at my esophagus for the words sitting so heavily in my voice box whenever something bad happens. Maybe, just maybe, this is why I felt relieved when my friend sat with me on the couch a few weeks back, holding my hand as I sifted through the sand of my thought because my brain had become a desert. My mouth, my lips desperately trying to convey the feelings I was failing to gather when he said, “It’s okay. Some things are just too terrible for words.” A rush of reassurance. It was, it is okay if there are no words in the face of calamity. In this new space of tolerance and understanding I was, by the end of the night, able to smile and utter the words, “I am so blessed,” because I am despite all the bad (and let me tell you there is quite a bit of it in my mere twenty-three years of life) the simple empathetic act of my friend created a safe space that allowed me to see beyond and rejoice in all of the goodness that I am also surrounded by each and every day.
I recently purchased a self-help book I saw on the Barnes and Noble discount table for two reasons:
- I am a sucker for good cover design and good design in general. I can’t tell you how many bottles of wine I used to have to pour down the sink after purchasing them simply because I found the label aesthetically pleasing. Oh, the life of an artist.
- When I opened the book to the first page one line stood out to me and I knew immediately that I had to own it. Well, and the fact that it was only seven dollars, but that’s beside the point. The line goes, “Emotions are energy. All of them – not just the good ones.”
This really struck me because for so long I believed that I had to repress my negative emotions so as not to come off as weak or crazy or whatever I seemed to believe at the time. I think this applies not just those who suffer from major illnesses or tragedies, but everyone because we all experience hardship and pain in our lives. Those things are not relative and it is not a game of who is worse off. Actually one of my biggest pet peeves is telling a person in distress that things could always be worse and while, yes, this is in fact true if does nothing but demean the individual’s struggles and create the complete opposite of the safe environment that I talked about earlier. This friend’s empathy created a safe new environment in which I now felt an overwhelming need to discuss what I had been at a loss for words of prior. After composing a quick text, my friend’s roommate came downstairs, sat and listened to me talk about the abuse and trials I have faced both throughout my life and now as well as my mixed feelings about the forgiveness and kindness I strive to treat these individuals with. His response was absolutely touching. “That’s the Jesus in you,” he said, then thanked me for sharing and waited until I dozed off to sleep. I awoke the next morning to a folded note next to my pillow that read, “1) Our home is your home, always. 2) You are loved. Don’t ever forget it.”
You see, it’s these seemingly small acts of compassion and kindness that make existing in a world filled with so many evils bearable. They enable us to see the good and spread the good even with the presence of wickedness still surrounding us. This is also the rooting of our Faith as we believe in a God who will deliver us from evil and His Son who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may be forgiven for our sins, our own individual evils. We all have emotions – both good and bad. Recognizing and giving the time of day to each and every one of our emotions is not only vital to our own mental health, but enables us to grow spiritually so that we may continue to strive to live in the image of Jesus, the ultimate example of empathy. All loving, all accepting and all-inclusive.
1 Peter 1:6-9
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show you that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
You love hime even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.