Although I've taken hundreds of self portraits since Drew died, I hardly ever share any of them. The above photo is in fact one of the only portraits I've shared that is deeply related to my grief. I took it just 4 or 5 months after he died. This scarf made me feel both powerful and protected at the same time…. very important feelings when your whole world falls apart around you. It also made me feel close to him. As a pilot, his love of flight became infectious and deeply inspiring to me… and so anything flight related became a real symbol of hope for me after he died.
This photo represented for me the in-between - not in my old life and not yet able to be in any kind of new life. It is a part of the journey we all must go through when enduring any kind of loss. This photo for me represents my incubation from the world… the time in which I needed to be sheltered in order to become who the person who is able to step forward into a new life one day.
A few weeks ago, after another man's story inspired me, I shared this post on Widow’s Voice, where I write weekly. In the post, I shared several very private portraits I had never showed anyone. It felt REALLY vulnerable to do, but the response was wonderful and seemed to help many. It got me thinking that there might just be some power to sharing more of this.
My plan is to do a year of self portraits - one a week - to explore my individual journey through grief more deeply. I will use the photo-taking process and journaling in combination to begin to dig deeper into my own story, to see it from different angles, explore it more fully, and have a visual record of this journey.
I'll admit as I type this, there is something about announcing "I'm going to photograph myself for a year" that feels entirely self-centered and irksome. The old demons come up, saying "Who do you think you are? Who will care about a year of pictures of you?". Well… for one, I will. I want to know what I will gain from this, learn from it, how I will heal more, and how it might help others to do the same for themselves. I figure that's a pretty darn good start right there.
So, I'll be sharing my first portrait a week from today, and every week for the year, along with some of the journaling that happens around each image *Shudders at the thought of this!* So vulnerable! But I'm trusting anyone out there reading to be kind to what I give - as I am most certain that most people will be. Until next week… wishing you well.