On some days, I’ve laughed merrily, the black phase just a faint memory in the back of my mind. I’ve even started to wonder if I hadn’t been too dramatic. On the first spring day this year, I have a wonderful photo shoot with a very talented girl. My heart pumps passion through my veins. We create photos I love. It doesn’t happen often enough, but whenever it does, it fills me with a deep sense of accomplishment, making all the struggle and failure worth it.
✕ ✕ ✕
But the walk on ice has continued. Darkness is still looming in the corners of my mind, I haven’t been able to shake it off. It keeps catching up, paralyzing me. Overdramatised or not, it feels real. Maybe it is real, right then and there – I believe that our minds create the reality we live in. It’s not tangible, there’s nothing I can point my finger at and say “this is the reason for the scary darkness within me”. The black feeling is just there, consuming, draining.
I hate it. It’s not me, but I can’t deny that it is an integral part of me. I don’t know how to deal with it, I don’t want to speak with a therapist. In some ways it fuels my creativity, and yet too often it prevents me from doing what has to be done, making me more sensitive than I already am, turning me into a shadow of my bright self.
Visualizing my soul, I see burnt down fields as far as the eye can reach. Flaky ash, the sky above blank. Emptiness. An endless nonentity touching the horizon, no matter in which direction I look. I breathe in hopelessness and out flows loneliness. In these moments, that’s my life and nothing else exists. The joy is burnt, the laughter died away, every helping hand gone.
After a couple of days I wake up from the numbness, inhaling life again. The ashen scenery fades away like a pale childhood memory. I have yet to learn that my soul is made up of both parts, the desolate landscape and the bright child-like girl I like to identify with – the one that adores people and laughs too loud.
Wednesday afternoon. I’m on my way to take photos for my uni project and have to deal with subjects that aren’t cooperating. I need a break. I’d be so damn happy if I could only avoid every single soul for at a week. Social interactions – especially when they’re confrontational and difficult – can be so damn tiresome. They drain my spirit.
The photo appointment has a very critical moment, but goes quiet well in the end. I’m exhausted and expect a quiet photo editing evening. While buying groceries for dinner, my head in the clouds, I get an unexpected message from C. It’s a spontaneous invitation for dinner. My heart fills with warm joy.
C and I met through my flatmate (and by now close friend) Robin. He lives in the same student dorm as us. I’ve considered him an almost-friend; even though we saw each other often and spent a lot of time together, he was my friend’s friend, we never met alone. We also never talked about anything personal (though I played with the thought of confiding in him when he approached me after my breakdown). I felt he could become a good friend, if only the circumstances would allow it (that is: one of us had to take the first step). But I assumed that it’d never happen, because, well: who would want to get to know me better?
Well, turns out I’m still so damn blind, probably scarred from past experiences. I keep walking around believing people aren’t interested in being my friend, that I’m always the one who cares more about deepening bonds, and am caught off guard when I realise that I’m wrong. Apparently, C has been trying to reach out more than once. In my ignorance, I unknowingly rejected his subtle tries again and again.
We talk for hours – about our studies, ourselves, struggles, relationships. Thoughtful gazes staring into space, pauses for reflection, fumbling for words. I’m very honest (too honest?), our conversation is raw and open. Even though both of us have classes the next morning, I leave his place after 1 am. My heart could burst – I made a new, real friend. Or maybe I’ve rather found one that has been there all along. And just like that, light floods my soul and casts away the darkness of the last few weeks.
I do feel very stupid about not approaching him before and almost ridiculous when I think how I wanted to avoid everyone for a week this afternoon. I definitely have to stop believing everything my mind tells me.
Friday, it’s 5 am in the morning. I slept four hours the previous night and yet I feel wide awake. My flatmate Vera and I had friends at our place till 1 am and continued to talk till three thirty, ignoring tomorrow’s duties. We used to bond during photo walks on autumnal evenings. She encouraged me with my ‘nude shots‘. If it weren’t for her, I’d probably still feel too much shame. Then winter and busyness came and we hadn’t had a longer conversation for months. Till tonight.
✕ ✕ ✕
Long honest conversations are like caffeine in my system. They nurture my soul and keep my mind racing, new impressions having the effect of cocaine. I’m supposed to sleep but I can’t. I’m excited and restless. Sleep is overrated. There’s so much I want to process and do and it all feels possible
(I do wonder if it’s not a slightly manic phase).
This is what makes me feel alive – opening yourself up, being vulnerable, connecting and realizing how damn similar we all are. That you’ll always feel isolated and alone till you cut yourself open, bleed your insecurities, vocalise your raw, honest thoughts. It’s scary. You give up all your defenses and protective shields, feeling uneasy and naked because all that’s left is your real, defenseless core. And when the words are out, all vulnerable and purely you, the magic happens. Two souls connect.
I’m still so deeply moved. It’s such a beautiful thing, being able to voice those thoughts of which you assumed would never feel the touch of your lips.
And if I ever write that I dislike humans, then it’s because I love them too much. My soul needs them more than it’s good for her and in the blink of an eye, this immense feeling can turn into a destructive force. It’s not good to need other people so much – I’m still having a hard time dealing with it. But right now, I’m in love with people’s kindness, their tenderness, the fragile strength of human relations and how they work and grow. It’s the most wonderful feeling on Earth.
✕ ✕ ✕
There are still so many broken pieces, cutting my fingers when I try to pick them up. But, as Robin just said, let’s focus on one day at a time.
✕ ✕ ✕
Please let me know: When was the last time you felt this raw connection? How often do you experience it? Have you uttered thoughts and feelings that left you vulnerable and defenseless lately? What were they about? Was it worth it? Or is there a reason you’ve never experienced it before?