As an artist, of any kind, you're always searching for something to say, something that feels really personal and, perhaps, globally important. Important may not be the best word, but maybe you're actually searching for your own voice. For me, it took my abortion in the winter of 2014 to finally gain mine.
I've never really talked about my abortion openly, mainly because I never knew what to say, or how to say it. I was raised within a very conservative Catholic family, always being taught that a baby was not a choice. And, abortion is such a controversial topic in our society, I always felt like I was tiptoeing around the subject if it ever got brought up. I've always felt that I was terrible at saying what I want to say anyways. The exact things I always want to say usually come out a slightly skewed and jumbled mess of altered phrases to somehow please the person, or persons, I was talking to. I guess some part of me has always been afraid of talking about the abortion because I was afraid of offending the people around me in any way; maybe it was fear that they would leave, or maybe it was fear that they would see me in a negative light.
So, feeling like I couldn’t really talk about it, I took to my art for expression. With my paintings the worry of offending anyone, my family, my peers, went out the door. My fears went away and I felt that I could fully express myself in every way that I needed to. I was able to paint through my recovery, I could address my pain, and I was able to express the way in which I felt afterwards without ever really having to talk about it. It allowed me, and has continued to allow me, to work through the painful parts of recovery and experience the enlightening moments that juxtapose, because recovery is a lifelong process in any situation. It has been the best therapy I could have ever asked for.
This series of paintings centers around my bed. After my abortion, I found myself stuck. Stuck in bed, stuck in time. I experienced a bottomless pit of sadness, for lack of a better description. For quite some time afterwards, I felt like I was going to feel this sensation of utter loss for eternity, it felt like it would never end, and I attempted to portray this in my paintings as well as a sense of recovery. This series sort of takes place in sequential order, starting out with myself visibly in bed, various objects somehow finding themselves next me when getting out of bed just seems unfathomable. And, slowly but surely, in each piece to follow, my physical self becomes less and less present while still portraying a sense of presence. Objects leave the composition and new ones appear, my physical self moving around, uncomfortable with where it is, light changing in every piece exemplifying the passing of time. Until finally, I’m no longer in the picture, my shadow is, but I physically am not. I marked this as the pivotal moment in which it was time to get up, it was time to move forward, it was time to, not forget, but forgive myself.
My artist statement reflects this:
"I'm ridden with the outcomes of my past decisions and the imminent possibilities of ones to come. Habitually I seek comfort in my bed to provide me with the solace I deem necessary for reflecting on such feelings. Though it would seem that just as I find comfort within my grasp, an unsettling sense of bitterness begins to seep through the folds in my sheets, determined to find its way back to me. My usually unkempt bed, seemingly pristine and bleached white, houses too many secrets, dare I say regrets. And suddenly I don't feel like I belong, suddenly I am uneasy in my own bed."
I think it's time to get up.
At some point in every one of our lives, we will be presented with huge decisions, or situations, that could potentially change the course of our lives. It will be necessary to find your own way to navigate those turbulent waters and face them head on. For me it was art; for me it was painting. It gave me the time to slow down, reflect, and fully immerse myself in healing the depressed state of mind I found myself in - and for that, I will always be grateful.
For anybody that is faced with a difficult situation, I advise you to stay strong, be sure of yourself, dive deep down to determine what is best for you and hold true to your own beliefs whatever they may be. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you need. For me, it wasn’t easy, but I’m a better version of myself because of it. I navigate life in a whole new way, I see the world in a different light, I deal with relationships differently, but it’s a good different. I am positive that I made the best of the tough situation I was dealt with. No matter what we’re faced with, as humans we have to find our way to heal, recover, become whole again. The healing process is going to be different from one person to the next, but whatever it may be, I think it's essential that you find it, roll back the covers, and get up.