I received so many likes, shares and comments from last week’s portrait, I have to thank you all. I really never have any clue what other people will think of this stuff when I put it out there. It always feels a little bit risky, and there is always a little bit of “what if no one likes it?” that goes on. I don’t think that ever goes away! My sincerest thanks to everyone for all the support last week and throughout the entire project thus far… this surge of support came to me truly when I most needed it. When I’ve felt really depleted… you guys really gave me a boost.
I’m continuing to explore ropes this week and likely for a few more weeks, as I’ve been so completely lost in the feeling and meaning behind them. There are so many ways to interpret ropes as a symbol; tension, struggle, strain, resistance, support, strength, cooperation, chaos. This week, I wanted to capture the weight of grief… the way it knots up around you, weighs you down, and exhausts you. I have been tired since the day my fiancé died. At first, I could barely function at all. Two years later, I still feel like I am only operating at 60%. There is this other force inside me that is always requiring that other 40% of my energy. Like any emotion, grief needs room in our lives. If we don’t allow it space, it will take it on its own anyway. If we struggle against it, it won’t let up any easier. It will only wear us out quicker, until we are left exhausted and depleted in its embrace. I try my best to remember to leave room for my grief – to respect it as a part of me – but I still fight it sometimes. I’ve been fighting it on and off for the past few months honestly… and holy hell can I put up a fight. Lately, I think I’ve run out of steam and have been leaning into it a bit more.
I’d like to share a little about the tear-stains in this image… entirely unintentional. My camera gear was having issues and I had a very limited amount of daylight left to get the shot. It was also about 100 degrees out that day. And a few other things had not gone my way that day too. Needless to say, after only a few minutes of failing to figure out why my gear was not working correctly – I had a complete and total melt down. Like a five-year-old. It was ridiculous. I messed with it for at least 30 minutes to no avail, and went into a complete crying fit at least three separate times… which at first was about the stupid camera and how hot it was outside, but soon turned into cursing my entire life and how I just want my old life back and how much I hate the fact that this is my life and that I’m stuck “even doing this project in the first place!!” Eventually I did get it all working again, and once I got started, things began to flow a bit better. But the getting there… ugh.
I tell you this for a reason. Because like the journey of grief (and life) – this project is not easy and is frequently quite a battle. Sometimes it takes my breath away and surprises me with incredible gifts. Other times, it is a harsh reminder that I am SO not where I thought I would be at 31 years old. And sometimes, shit just goes all wrong and triggers all my emotions and I come unhinged in a completely irrational way. And that’s where those tear stains came from. I decided to leave them as a reminder of how grieving leaves us feeling exposed, often ridiculous and constantly exhausted. It is such for each of us in this journey of life and death.
About the Series: Through 40 weekly photos and accompanying essays, 'Still, Life' captures a deeply emotional and psychological journey of what it means to grieve, to heal, and to live on.