Breaking the Silence

2017-03-28

The longer silence lasts, the harder it is to break it.

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I want to be happy. Celebrate life, dance till dawn, walk around with a big smile, a skip in my stride, the lyrics of my favourite song on my lips. Laugh with my loved ones, have honest late night talks.. it’s been too long. Reality has been different lately. There were way too many dark days. I became an empty shell and couldn’t prevent it from happening. I mourn the wasted days spent confined by the cage of my mind. It was during another consuming phase when I realised that it can’t possibly be normal. I know that I’m actually fine. But for some reason, the irrational black hole keeps returning and I don’t want to lose more precious days feeling this way, being at the mercy of my mind. I’m going to speak to someone to figure out what’s going on.

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As a habit, I naively processed everything with the daily self-portrait. Honestly, intending to be realBut there are two kinds of people in social media that are scorned at: the ones who fake a perfect life and those who whine and try to get attention. Suddenly I realised that many people probably thought that I was overdramatizing about something that isn’t even there. Did I overshare? I wasn’t careful enough in my creative bubble, stupidly forgot there were so many eyes watching and judging (silly me, it’s called social media after all). How honest are you supposed to be online?

I’ve stopped sharing my self-portraits. I’ve become ashamed of using my emotions to create. And that’s deeply wrong. Most artists use their experiences and emotions, transforming them into something different, more beautiful. If fear of being judged holds me back, I’m a lost case.

My state of mind doesn’t go unnoticed by people in my everyday life. Friends start to worry. Suddenly I’m afraid whatever I write would be scrutinised and judged. My blog no longer feels like a safe harbour. No space to withdraw. At some point, I lose the courage to speak my mind. So I remain silent for a week (online). I scribble incoherent phrases and painful thoughts into my plain blue notebook instead. However, now I realise once again that I have to be honest with myself here or my thoughts will drown me sooner or later. Scrawling into a notebook is not enough.

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Life has been a countdown. Seven days till March 31, six, five, … We’re about to bring our first long-term project to an end. It’s a bittersweet feeling. I’m so glad when it’s over, there’s a certain feeling of pride – and yet dread fills me when I think of the vernissage this Friday. I’m reminded of my graduation ceremony three years ago. It was horrible. My achievements were totally okay, probably even good. I had every reason to look back and feel proud, but I felt like a failure. Never good enough for certain people whose opinion I care about. Or never good enough for myself.

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Many changes have gone by unnoticed, the consequences only showing now. Our Thursday group might have dissolved due to shifting relationships and priorities. I try to be okay with it. Spring has finally decided to stay, the longer days chasing away the black clouds in my mind. Colourful blossoms are popping out everywhere. I’m getting closer to my classmates, careful approaches occurred in the last couple of weeks. The dynamics have changed, I’m not an outsider anymore. I was honest with them and got so much kindness in return.

People come, people go. I used to shield myself from possible loss, but I’ve come to realise that a moment of real connection is always worth the disappointment that might follow afterwards. Fortunately there are unshakable constants through all this change. Friends being there and bearing me even when I can’t stand myself anymore. Always listening, no matter how little sense I make.

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Three days. I’m going to treat myself with a lonely weekend in mountains afterwards – to create and celebrate being alive again. Just nature, my camera, my thoughts and me. I’ve been too dependent on others.

Whatever life has in store, I’m ready.

thank you Julia xx

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PS: I found this song from Pedestrians CH, a band from my town, and fell in love with it. You might like it too.

30 Comments
    1. Must apologize here, I read only part of your post! I do not think you are being “judged” by the outside, now the nasty judge on the inside is having a field day with you! It sounds like the inside judge has been supplied with a large supply of negative material to feed on! Maybe, the mountain trip will be beneficial in reducing that ‘negative’ material.
      Good luck and have a GRESAT mountain experience!

      1. Hey, thank you for your kind comment! First I only read the first one and was left very confused :P spending some time alone in nature was amazing, I realised I need to do this much more often. I hope you’re doing well, have a wonderful Sunday <3

    1. You are one of those people I applaud. You possess the bravery to put yourself out there in way that I can’t. (You can be identified.) I still worry too much about the impact on my professional life. I also don’t let people know when I’m wandering through the darkness. I still fear getting close and letting anyone know what really exists beneath the surface, so I think your sharing of both your experiences and your art, whether in the day-to-day or via social media is admirable.
      I hope that you can find some peace and light, while you are in the mountains.
      Take care.

      1. Thank you so much! Yes, my blog is no secret – it took me a couple of years to be confident enough to write so honest without hiding. Luckily I’m still a student, I’m sure it’d be harder if I had a professional life to worry about too.
        Though I think it’s a pity you’re not letting people close to you – you might realise that they have similar issues, and you might be able to help each other out instead of suffering alone. That’s the experience I made :)
        I wish you all the best, take good care of yourself <3

    1. I’m glad you are going to talk to someone. I find that talking through something with someone always helps, even if they don’t give me advice. Sometimes I realize things just by spelling out my problems out loud. Best of luck <3

      1. Thank you, my dear! <3 the talk definitely helped, though there are still many things I don't understand. But it made me realise that I need more alone-time and now I'll try to give it to myself more often :) have a wonderful afternoon <3

    1. It sounds like you’re having a difficult time. The stress of your project’s due date is probably a factor, but if this pattern continues you might want to speak with someone who has the training to help you. I’m not trying to be demeaning or judgmental, but I admit to being a little worried. In addition, it never hurts to have more insight into how long-standing behavior patterns have arisen, and how to alter them (if you want to).

      1. Hey Josh, thank you for your thoughtful comment! I was actually referring to a counselor in the post, but I guess it wasn’t obvious enough :D the appointment went really well, now I’m going to implement her advice and see how it goes. I’d love to learn more about my thought and behavior patterns, but I think she’s more a short-term “solution” and only forwards you if it’s really necessary..
        I hope you’re doing well, take care! :)

    1. >Three days. I’m going to treat myself with a lonely weekend in mountains afterwards – to create and celebrate being alive again. Just nature, my camera, my thoughts and me. I’ve been too dependent on others.<

      This bring some joy my heart. The pain and doubt I read in the first part of this blog are replaced with this small bit of hope. Hope. Such a small word with such power. :)

      I hope you weekend in mountains gives the opportunities to continue your reflection and find some excellent pictures to share with us!

    1. Gosh what a raw, honest read. I’m afraid I’m new to your blog so I’ve not read your archives but as a counsellor my first thought is have you had professional support with these dark days? You said you were going to talk to someone and that’s a really positive step, I don’t want to be presumptive about what interventions you may / may not have tried up until now but please don’t feel you must do this on your own. There are many options out there to help lift you. And as for feeling afraid to let your creativity be informed by your true experience of the world, I think that sounds like a wonderful way to take what’s inside you and make it tangible. If you could make authentic work, and, as best as you can, ditch that self-conscious feeling, you could find yourself making the work that could be hugely therapeutic for you and will no doubt speak powerfully to others who have felt similarly. For every person you risk ‘turning off’ there will be someone so grateful to see your work and feel its resonance. It’s an emotional risk I know! Or if it feels to risky right now you could maybe follow Elizabeth Gilbert’s great advice in one of her Magic Lessons podcasts where she’s talking to a writer who’s afraid of the fall out from family and friends if she writes a book about her life. Liz tells her, ‘write the book that needs to be written, the book you write now may not be the same book that is published but tell those stories first, THEN edit’. For you that could mean take the photos you want to take and document this time and if you don’t publish them in the moment you could edit them at a later date and share your curated, edited version.
      Just throwing out some ideas to you as I was really moved by your words. Sending all good thoughts your way.

    1. Sometimes we have to go through darkness to get to the light. It seems to me that is what you have been doing with what you are writing and the photos you have taken. I have found that sometimes I have had to reach out for other help, if I go too dark. Sometimes in a meditation or prayer, I get more clarity about what my next step is. I wish you well on your journey and praise you for your honesty. You have written bravely.

    1. Your thoughts are wrapped in raw and truthful emotions.Without emotions word are empty shells.I encourage you to let your feelings flow.
      With admiration, Rich

        1. Then it’s better not to, for you may find me to be intrusive and uncouth. Some answers are beyond one’s comprehension immediately, especially from the strangers like me. ~

    1. Your first paragraph, that’s how I want to feel too! Then your second paragraph, well I don’t want these same fears. I’ve held back my thoughts and emotions too long and I need my release. Taking photographs and relating my thoughts to those images for myself isn’t enough. I prepared my posts days ago and wondered just how to share them with the world. Today I did with a certain animosity. But it feels good… for now.

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback! I’m glad you’re starting to share your thoughts and emotions. I hope you’ll enjoy blogging. It brings some peace to my mind, maybe it’ll have a similar effect on yours, too. Take care xx

    1. Are you diagnosed with depression? Or is this the first experience with it? I think its wonderful that you are expressing yourself through your art and creativity.

    1. Hi there! I was keeping an anonymous blog about my depression and mental health in Singapore that you managed to find and appreciate and was led here. I’m not sure if wordpress will allow me to comment anonymously. But I do feel very moved by this entry to say:

      1. I did judge your blog immediately by the beautiful images of you everywhere.

      2. Then I read what you had to say, and I judged myself for judging you. And I thought about how fucked up the concept of the self-portrait is now in our culture. That social media was meant to democratize the production and politics of the (self) image, but it’s just made it more complicated with everyone jumping on each other about intention.

      3. I’m glad you’re doing this. And I really appreciate your honesty.

    1. “Dont cry because it is over. Smile because it happened” Dr Seuss.
      That’s the attitude I try to take, people may come and go but enjoy the time you have rather than dreading the possible end. Doesn’t always work but that’s what I try :)

    1. Hi Monika, I visited your website & saw all of the amazing photos & thought, “Wow! What a great gift and storytelling ability she has.”

      We all have times when we judge ourselves a bit too harshly & wish for all the world we were living someone else’s life. That is, until we realize the one we have suits us way better & we wouldn’t trade it for the world either.

      Like most of us, you are confronting the darkness you’ve encountered within yourself. But instead of further suppressing it or shaming yourself for feeling perfectly human emotions, you are calling it out of the shadows. It’s the mark of one who is on a profound healing journey–your own Hero’s Quest.

      The beauty of your journey is–you are still aware of the beauty around you. You also have the courage to do something about it by way of artistic expression and…by allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to share it, which is like wearing your heart on your sleeve. But well worth it.

    1. And one day you will learn that it is when you love yourself, by doing those things that have meaning for you, regardless of what the rest of the world thinks…will be the day that all those doubts and fears disappear…and you will be free…totally…utterly…free.
      Follow your heart, and its love will follow you. Understand why something feels uncomfortable within yourself, and that very act will release you from its control. Only you hold the controls…only you have ever bound your heart. Take control, find the why in your heart…and the walls will come tumbling down. Then you will see the meaning of life because those walls will no longer be blocking your view.
      Yes Monika, it is a long journey, but in each step you take, you become wiser and more loving because of that journey. Look back in your life…do you want to be ‘back there’. You are now a much wiser and loving person, the past made you what you now are…and in the future? You then will also be much wiser and loving…and in that journey, slowly, an understanding within, and you will finally find a beauty beyond all measure…and it will set you free…forever.
      Have faith in yourself, you need to see unhappiness, so that when you find that happiness, it is appreciated all the more because of what you have been through. No one will ever really appreciate water, unless they are crawling through a desert. Learn to understand the hard yards you have already taken, so that you can appreciate that love that is growing within, which in turn will allow you to give to others from that place .
      May that light within guide your journey <3

    1. It’s amazing, the ability of the mind to block the wonders of life, why do I continue to listen?

      1. Yeah, right? Last month I was acting horrible towards some friends because of what my mind made me believe. It’s so important to have the courage and do something your mind advises you against.

Let me know what you think!

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