This year has been a dark rollercoaster for me, as I’m sure it has been for many of you. There have been moments of joy and connection for sure, but there has also been extreme sadness and fear.
And before I go on, I think it only fair to say I’m going to get personal in the next few paragraphs and talk about some very hard things. And if you think that may be too much for you, that is so totally okay. I invite you to go google puppies or kittens or whatever brings you joy. No hard feelings, no judgement. Please, do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
I am an artist, I’ve been a working one since I was ten years old, and I’ve always found vulnerability to be the best place from which to create, albeit a challenging one. So, here goes…
In July, my dad died by suicide.
Although he had struggled with a complicated case of bipolar disorder for the past twenty years, we had no warning signs. There were no attempts, there were no outward signs of depression, and he left no note. He had had some issues earlier in the summer when he forgot to take his meds and had to be hospitalized, but suicide was the farthest thing from everyone’s mind.
One day he just felt really off. My mom tried to get him to his doctor, but couldn’t get an appointment until the next day. That night he told my mom he’d be along to bed in a few minutes and as she tucked herself in, he got in his car and drove away.
We never saw him again.
It was devastating. It is devastating. Made more so by the pandemic, which meant we weren’t able to have a funeral or gather with friends to mourn. I’m sure at some point I’ll be able to articulate more of what happened in the weeks after his death, but it still feels like a fog. I look at my journal and there are full weeks where I wrote nothing.
Grief is a blank page.
But time marches forward and breathing becomes easier. Once the initial shock had worn off, I found myself doing something I hadn’t done since high school; writing poetry. Giving myself permission to put pen to paper without judgement, without a goal, to turn off my brain and let whatever was swirling inside me out onto the page. I wrote this in the weeks following my dad’s passing:
I drink water as I cry
My tears slip into the glass
The waters mingle
I drink them down
Simple, honest, and strangely it made me feel better. And I feel better every time I read it. It can be so healing to see something tangible come out of grief, to see the slivers of beauty in just being able to feel.
So the point of my email today is to encourage you to take all the swirling, tumultuous feelings that 2020 has brought up in you and to pour them out onto a blank page. You don’t need a special notebook or a fancy literary mind, or time alone to walk in a forest and centre yourself. You just need to give yourself permission to put pen to paper and be honest.
And you never have to show it to anyone. You can tear up the piece of paper as soon as you’re done and scatter it to the four winds if you so choose. But if you would like to share it, I’m here and I would be honoured to read it.