The Light


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.

Sherley, 2017.

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.

Vera with new hair, 2017.

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.

190/365 Bathing in the spring sun.
I’m feeling so much gratitude right now. Had some unexpected meaningful connections this week, the memory still fills me with joy. Also, my sister visited me this weekend and my dear flatmate Robin is finally returning tomorrow. 💕 Life’s far from perfect. Uni is giving me the feeling that I’ll never be good enough, but I’m focusing on the positive and know that I’m supported by lovely souls. 😊✨

✕ ✕ ✕

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?

    1. When I was 25 I lost my youngest son in a house fire and my other son who is Autistic was badly burned. This as you can guess was an extremely traumatic experience. The Emergency room as they tried to save both my son’s lives and of course my son’s death later that evening. You sort of go into an automatic pilot mode where your brain steers the ship but really there’s nobody home or worse, you feel like you’re coping when in reality you’re collapsing inside.

      Of course the end result for me was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As it is with all mental disorders each one is specific to the individual, though there are some broad stroke high points.
      Flashbacks to the trauma (never my favourite, especially when I was driving my car).
      Killing rages. (imagine you’re in a car with a stuck accelerator. You know you’re out of control but you can’t stop it from happening)
      Not caring if you live or die.
      Self injurious behaviour linked to the above (and even to this day twenty five years later I still struggle with these two).
      Self isolation.

      I’m telling you this to give context to what was my journey back to a semblance of self. The way I’ve always described myself since is image an image of you on a sheet of glass that gets broken. You can rebuild the image back to almost whole but there’s going to be holes where pieces went missing. That would be the man I am today. Mostly together but with bits missing.

      I was on a dark path that was going to lead me to either me being in jail or dead for my own actions.

      What saved me was therapy.

      Not all at once. I sure as hell wasn’t a magic bullet, it took years to talk me off the ledge I clung to. But what it did do was give me coping mechanisms to deal with my stressors and it also taught me how to recognize their onset.

      I am not cured. I wrestle with my PTSD every day and have to be very careful in my interactions with other people in regards to what I say and how I say it. I’m 6’2″ and about 210lbs and have been told I can be a bit scary sometimes. So I try to keep that dialed back.

      Therapy did not harm my creativity. It allowed e to put the darkness inside of me into context in relation to my writing and dip into it if needed. It also gave me the tools to be a bit more analytical in regards to some of the emotional content of my writing.

      I know it’s tough but there’s no shame in seeking help and if it really isn’t for you, you can always try other methods. It’s tough being an artist and it’s scary too sometimes. And as you’ve found, there are people there for you when you need them and more importantly there when you don’t think you need them but actually do.

      Steve Abbott

      1. My God Steve. What you have written is amazing.

        Monika, see what you have achieved. & you are very beautiful, as well.

        Life may look like nothing right now, but your words make things happen.

        Believe in yourself. & you too, Steve.

        I am speechless.


        1. Thank you for your kindness and compassion, Daria!! <3 I'm so blessed to have people like you here. I hope you'll have a wonderful week, take care xx

      1. Hello Steve,

        Sorry it took me so long to reply to your very touching comment. It left me speechless, I’m so sorry this happened to you.

        I’m glad you found a way to cope with your traumatic past, that you didn’t give up on life. I’ve just read some posts about your son, they’re moving. Your strength and love is amazing, thank you for sharing your experiences with me. I was doubtful about talking to a counselor because I thought I wasn’t feeling bad enough, but now I realised that it’s okay to ask for help if I feel that I need it. The first appointment, hearing an outside view, helped. Luckily things have been better the last weeks.

        Take care and thank you again for sharing your story, it means a lot to me.

        Hugs from Switzerland,

        1. No thanks needed. Mental illness can be hard for people on the outside to understand. I’m glad your first meeting went well. If you ever need to talk, just drop me a line.

          1. I appreciate your kindness, thank you very much! I’m looking forward to following your journey.

    1. You have a very beautiful blog and all your entries are very touching. I absolutely love the design and I hope you keep on going.
      Check out my blog. I think you might be interested :)

    1. It sounds like having someone to talk to really helps you… maybe therapy might be more useful than you give it credit for? I know there’s a stigma attached and having never been myself I can’t offer too much advice, but I wouldn’t rule it out completely.

      1. It’s not that I don’t believe in therapy, I was just doubting if I was really that bad that I needed it or just overdramatizing. But yeah, I guess I’ll look into it. Take care xx

    1. Hey Monika! As others have written aswell I think you should at least give therapy a chance. Or why don’t you want to go to therapy? Do you think that’s a sign of weakness? It’s the opposite. Maybe it is not the right thing for you but you can’t tell for sure if you didn’t even try.
      I had a nice time reading your text :)

      1. Hey Maurice, thanks for your comment! I certainly don’t think that going to therapy is a sign of weakness. I’ll see how it goes.. hope you’re doing well :)

    1. Look at the last photos. There a two opposite things. Sunspots and shadows. Which do you chose to look at?

      1. Good question – I think I like those pictures because they include both. It wouldn’t be the same if it were only light or only shadow :D

      1. Thank you, Destini! I’ve just read a couple of your well-written posts, you too keep writing and take care <3

    1. thanks for liking my post, it led me to your wonderful blog and stunning photos! :D

      i’m one of those obnoxious people who doesn’t like to admit being vulnerable or defenceless, especially not admit to the own self *cough*
      i suppose the ones who bring it out the most are my furry kitty brother and sister <3

      1. Hey Nairama, thank you for stopping by and leaving this kind comment! <3 well, at least you're aware of it. Good you have your furry siblings :)) take care! xx

    1. In an unrelated sidebar, have you ever looked at any Lensbaby Products? I think you could have a lot of fun in your portraiture work with a lens like the Twist 60. They’re a manual lens so setup takes a bit longer but the end results can be really satisfying.

      1. Thank you for the tip! I’ve just checked it out, the Twist 60 looks really interesting. I’ll take a look at the Lensbaby products again once I have some money I can spend on camera stuff :D

    1. From the moment I was born- I thirsted for the reality of life. How can I display my heart in a breath. I want to say this! I have read your blog- and I am humbled to have found you on this page. I sense a true and humble lady – who has opened up her life to expose to others the reality and truth we all hunger for. Your depth of expression touches my mind and heart in a second without doubt. You have a natural ability- to look at your self and bring out the best. For you to speak with someone – they would have to have been where you have walked. My heart tells me- you are a winner- and a overcomer. For me I feel as if you have reached into my own heart- and gently understood it by your own admission. to life. I will express to one of my daughters your valley of life. Please be blessed and know you are worth every thing life has to offer. With a sincere heart Bobby

    1. I love the portraits…they’re just so raw that it’s hauntingly beautiful…a different synergy to the darkness, there’s just so much of acceptance in your work!

Let me know what you think!

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